Another four-loss week extends the poor start to the season out to 13 games...
- As frustrating as it's been thus far, and as many concerning signs as we've seen, it's not like they've already dug themselves a huge hole. They're only two games out, and Tampa and New York both have injury issues, too. There are no indications that any non-Boston team is going to run away and hide in the East, so they've got time to get themselves squared away.
- The pitching was very good in five of the seven games this week. And very bad in the other two, with Doubront getting knocked out in the third on Tuesday and Lackey giving up five HR on Saturday. Despite five well-pitched games, they only won three, as they lost 3-2 on Sunday night (with the winning run scoring on the disputed [but correctly] overturned double-play-that-wasn't, and losing 4-1 on Thursday when Buchholz was pretty good but had no support from the offense, and little from the defense.
- The offense, on the other hand was bad. Again. They've had a couple of productive games thus far, but not many. They've done a decent job reaching base, but have hit for very little power. They've only hit 11 HR, 10th in the AL, they're the only AL team without a triple so far, and they've only hit 19 doubles, which is 11th best in the AL.
- That doubles performance is very out of character for a team that plays in Fenway Park. Six of the best nine doubles seasons in the past 10 years have been Boston's. Over that span, there have been 300 team-seasons, and all 10 of Boston's are in the top 29 for doubles. They've averaged nearly 40 more per year than second place Cleveland. In other words, they are extremely unlikely to finish the season 11th in the AL for doubles. Of course, if they do, they're going to finish under .500, 15 games out.
- They have had a dreadful time stringing innings together. They lead all of baseball with 17 GIDP. And even when they get an inning put together, they cannot seem to get the hit that makes a difference. They're hitting .204/.281/.311/.591 with runners in scoring position, and .200/.321/.289/.610 with RISP and two outs. If "clutch" is a real attribute, they have not demonstrated it thus far.
- They have scored many of their runs on HR. Two of their three wins this were the direct result of late-game three-run homers, from Ortiz (in the 8th inning against Texas, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead) and Sizemore (in the 6th inning aginst New York, turning a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead). In other words, as bad as it was, it could very easily have been worse.
- If I had to bet, I would put big money on it that they'll win a game on a Saturday or a Sunday during the 2014 season. But through two weeks, they're 5-4 in games played during the week and 0-for-the-weekends.
- Another thing that they have not done well is get off to a good start in a game. Theoretically, you build a lineup to get your best hitters up the most often, which results in always having most of your best hitters bat in the first. Through 13 games, the Red Sox have hit .178/.245/.178/.423 in the first inning, with 12 strike outs and only three walks. They have yet to score a run in the first inning.
- Injuries. It was a little bit scary that Uehara was unable to pitch on Friday night, but what we've heard since suggests that it was nothing serious and he shouldn't miss much time. Victorino is apparently getting close to coming back, which is a good thing, despite the fact that Bradley has played fairly well. The dynamic duo of Ryan Roberts and Jonathan Herrera (a combined .200/.314/.200/.514, 1.19 runs created, 1.10 RC/25 outs) are making me long for the return of Will Middlebrooks.
- But the potential for a lost season for Pedroia is concerning. Am I jumping the gun there? Let me just say that the history of any kind of wrist problems for hitters makes me fear the worst. [See Garciaparra, Nomar and Ortiz, David, et.al.] We all expected a healed Pedroia, who fought through a torn ligament in his hand for the entire season last year, to be back and productive. But he's been playing with a bad wrist for a week, has been dreadful, and is apparently unable to continue playing through it. How can you not be concerned? One of the questions that's been floating around the organization in recent weeks is, what are they going to do with 21 year-old 2B phenom Mookie Betts, who tore up AA last year and is making a joke of it right now? I am now wondering if he isn't going to spend the summer playing 2B for Boston.
- Hopefully there's no structural problem with Pedroia's wrist, and he'll be back shortly.
- Hey, I hear Stephen Drew is still available. Maybe Boston would be a good landing spot for him...
- The bullpen continues to be a strength of this team. Without Uehara available, Mujica pitched a perfect ninth for the save in Yankee Stadium. Capuano, Breslow (returned from the DL), Tazawa and Mujica combined on 9 2/3 scoreless innings. Brandon Workman (sent down to start in Pawtucket to make room on the roster for Breslow) gave them four strong innings against Texas to hold that game within reach after Doubront got shelled, and saved the bullpen for another day in the process.
- I am not convinced that Breslow makes the 25-man roster stronger than Workman does, but I understand why they'd make that move. As is, they have both on the 40 man, and they're definitely stronger on the 40-man roster with Breslow in Boston and Workman in Pawtucket than they would be with Workman in Boston and Breslow in Toronto or Baltimore or New York.
- Ok, Conspiracy Theory time. What we've seen thus far from the instant replay system suggests that
a) MLB does not really want a replay system but
b) felt compelled into instituting one so
c) they instituted a bad (one managerial challenge) system and
d) implemented it badly so as to kill it.
Ok, maybe not. But it sure does not seem to have made anything better. I wrote last week about the instance in which a runner came off the bag while being tagged and it never got looked at. This week, a runner came off the bag, it got looked at, there's clear and convincing evidence - hell, there's proof - that the runner was being tagged while not touching the base, and he was called safe anyway. And MLB acknowledged it, saying that the conclusive images "were not immediately available." Why not? How is that both YES and NESN had all of the video information necessary (and what were Remy and Orsillo looking at anyway?) and MLB did not? Things have got to get better, because what we've seen so far is not acceptable.
- I assume that Farrell was just venting frustration with the replay system last night. Yes, it cost the Red Sox a run, but the overturn was the correct call. Maybe. If. Ok, it might have been the right call. But one of the problems that gets introduced when you add the high speed cameras and super-slow motion replays is this - when does the first baseman have the ball for purposes of recording an out? When it passes the outer edge? When it makes contact? Or when the first baseman actually closes the glove? That last is what was being said on the ESPN broadcast, in which case the runner was clearly safe. Either of the other two, it's not conclusive, and Farrell's got a legitimate complaint. (Farrell's complaint that you can't actually see Cervelli's foot hit the bag because of Napoli's leg is both true and irrelevant. It's quite clear from the fact that his foot stops going down exactly where he hits the bag, and that was clearly before Napoli had squeezed the ball.)
- Red Sox Player of the Week - As bad as the offense was, there were some good performances this week. Jonny Gomes (.300/.462/.600/1.062, 2.79 runs created, 9.96 RC/25 outs) was very productive but in only three games, 10 AB. Grady Sizemore (.429/.429/.667/1.095, 4.88 runs created, 9.39 RC/25 outs) had an excellent week offensively. (If you hit .429, walks are not necessary.) But, credit where it's due, and we all know that I was a fan of Saltalamacchia and didn't like the switch, the player of the week is A.J. Pierzynski (.474/.500/.632/1.132, 4.83 runs created, 10.97 RC/25 outs).
- Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Jon Lester was very good again. John Lackey had one excellent start and one bad one. Doubront had one dreadful and one pretty good. Buchholz was significantly better in his second start than in his first. The bullpen was good but other than maybe Workman's one run in four relief innings against Texas, no one stands out. So the pitcher of the week is Jake Peavey, who struck out 8 Rangers while allowing only one run in 6 2/3 innings in the best all-around game the Red Sox played this week.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/14/2014
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Standings for the week
Labels: 2014 Red Sox, pythagorean, Red Sox