Monday pythagorean - 5/11/2015
If it's true, as I've said repeatedly, that winning 2 out of 3 makes for a good week and a great season, then you might think that losing 2 out of 3 would make for a bad week and a terrible season.
You would, of course, be right to think so...
The Week That Was:
- 5/4 - Tampa 5 - @Boston 1 - Hanley Ramirez' running catch in the first inning is made just too close to the side wall in left field, and the subsequent collison ends up costing them two runs, as the ball pops out for a double, and Ramirez' services for most of the week. Clay Buchholz is mediocre, but the offense does nothing, as Tampa scores two before the Red Sox bat, and Boston trails for the entire game.li>
- 5/5 - @Boston 2 - Tampa 0 - For the second time in the 2015 season, and the first time since opening day, the Red Sox get seven scoreless innings from their starter, as Porcello dominates the Rays. Backed by 2 solo HR from Mookie Betts, Boston wins 2-0.
- 5/6 - Tampa 5 - @Boston 3 - For just the second time in six games, the Red Sox score more than 2 runs, and just like the other time, they lose. Masterson is mediocre, not terrible, but the offense doesn't do much, and Boston loses its third consecutive serice.
- 5/8 - @Toronto 7 - Boston 0 - The Red Sox go down in order of the top of the first, and Toronto scores the winning run when the second batter of the game homers. Boston plays its 4th consecutive game without Hanley Ramirez, and also plays without David Ortiz, as they stupidly didn't let him serve his one-game suspension on a scheduled day-off against a tough left-handed pitcher a week earlier, and his obviously pointless appeal turned out to be...pointless.
- 5/9 - @Toronto 7 - Boston 1 - For the 2nd straight day, Boston does nothing right, as the starting pitching, bullpen, and offense vie for "most inept" honors. It's a close battle, but the offense wins. Again...
- 5/10 - Boston 6 - @Toronto 3 - Boston scores four runs in the top of the first, and scores more than 3 runs in a game for only the second time in 9 May games, and Clay Buchholz pitches well as the Red Sox salvage the last game of the series in Toronto.
Thoughts and commentary...
- There is no lamer or lazier sports-write trope than the sarcastic, "oh, that will certainly fix everything!" that greets all moves made by a struggling team. We heard or saw that several times this week, as the Red Sox made personnel moves in an attempt to prevent a severe slide from turning into catastrophe. It's a stupid comment for so many reasons, but there are two big ones. The first is this - no one suggested that any one of these moves would fix everything. And the second is that, regardless of whether it fixes everything or not, if it's a move worth doing, then it should be done.
- Should they have fired Juan Nieves? I have no idea. I will say this, though - when it happened, there was a lot of snickering commentary, to the effect that they just have rotten pitchers, and how could anyone expect him to have done any better? Here's a little context for that - regardless of what you think of the particular pitchers on the Red Sox staff right now, the five starters all have Major League track records, and each one of them currently has a worse ERA than their career average ERA, by an average of 1.67 runs/9 innings. You can say that it's not Juan Nieves' fault, and you're almost certainly right in doing so, while at the same time saying, "we cannot continue this way - something needs to change." Does that make Nieves a scapegoat? Call it that if you like, but again, if something's not working, you need to change things.
- As the skid continued this week, people continued to hammer the pitchers. The pitching wasn't great, but it was nowhere near as bad as the offensive performances. They allowed 4.5 runs/game, which was 11th in the AL. They scored 2.167, which was 14th. Just dismal.
- I don't want to dislike Steve Lyons, but the more he talks, the more I want to hit him. He never says anything that isn't trite, obvious, and wrong. And he won't shut up...
- I am rarely going to complain about David Ortiz. He is what he is, and what he is, and has been, is an enormous asset for the Boston Red Sox. But sometimes, there are things that he does that are infuriating. The constant whining about balls and strike calls is irritating, at best, and getting tossed for complaining, and then suspended for bumping an umpire, are both parts of the package that we could happily live without. But this is the part that's not acceptable, and it's partly David, and it's partly John Farrell. You need to recognize that there is no way on God's green earth that the one-game suspension is going to get overturned. None. Zip, zero, nada. So you can either choose to serve it at a time that's best for the club, or you can take your chances and serve it when the appeal is denied. The appeal was denied on Friday, so instead of serving it during a game that the team didn't have him in the lineup anyway two weeks ago, he ended up serving it on Friday night, against a tough right-handed pitcher, with Hanley Ramirez out of the lineup due to injury. And they got shut out. Would his presence have made a difference? Who knows. They lost 7-0, but it was close and competitive until late, and there were a couple of opportunities in the middle of the game where a hit might have made a difference. In any event, instead of choosing good timing for an Ortiz off-day, his pigheadedness and their refusal to address the matter of reality with him left the timing of his missed game up to MLB rather than themselves, and that's just stupid.
- Down below, you'll see that the player of the week had a good and worthy week. What you won't see is the staggering gap between the best and second-best players on the team this week. So I'll tell you here that the second-best performance [Dustin Pedroia (.238/.320/.286/.606, 2.50 runs created, 3.68 RC/25 outs)] and third-best [Mike Napoli (.190/.292/.381/.673, 2.49 runs created, 3.66 RC/25 outs)] offensive performances were both bad. That should give you an idea as to how putrid the rest of the offensive performances were.
- I remain optimistic that Blake Swihart is going to be a very good offensive catcher in the Majors. But he is not off to a good start.
- Boston catchers, 2015 - .184/.288/.243/.531, 6.49 runs created, 1.80 RC/25 outs. Ugh.
- Non-Betts/Ramirez outfielders (Victorino, Holt, Craig, Nava, Bradley) - (.190/.290/.256/.547, 15.50 runs created, 2.36 RC/25 outs). Ugh. (Obviously, that's only one game for Bradley, and Holt and Nava have played some infield, but still. Ugh.) "Where have you gone, Rusney Castillo, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you..."
- From the Things-We-Knew-We-Needed-To-Worry-About Department: David Ortiz (.235/.328/.402/.730, 12.72 runs created, 3.74 RC/25 outs). Slow start, or the beginning of the increase of the decline?
- Red Sox Player of the Week - Unlike everyone else on the team, Mookie Betts (.320/.370/.840/1.210, 7.25 runs created, 10.65 RC/25 outs) had a really good week. We've seen better Player of the Week performances, but I don't that we've ever seen a bigger gap between the Player of the Week and everyone else than we saw this week.
- Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Despite the offensive ineptitude, they managed to win two games this week, in one of which they did manage to score 6 runs. The other they won because Rick Porcello was absolutely dominant, striking out six and walking none while shutting out the Rays for seven innings, and pitching Boston to a win on a day on which the sole source of offense was two Mookie Betts' solo HR.