Sitting a 24-30 on the year, the Red Sox season obviously has not taken shape the way that we thought it would during the offseason. The Red Sox were among the winners of the winter, bolstering their offense while creating a pathwork starting rotation, following the destruction of the 2014 staff. When the dust settled on the offseason, Boston welcomed nine new players to the 25-man roster via trade and free agency.
The most resounding acquisitions of Ben Cherington’s busy offseason were the additions to the lineup. In an effort to make Boston among the deepest offensive rosters from top to bottom, the fourth year GM brought aboard veteran sluggers Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to plant in the middle of the order. Sandoval, an October hero and the owner of 3 World Series rings, came at the cost of a 5 year, $95 million deal. While Ramirez, a proven power bat with legitimate health concerns, was brought in for a sum of 4 years, $88 million dollars (with a 2019 vesting option). While lucrative, the signings marked just the third and fourth contract guaranteed to extend past the 2016 season for a Red Sox position player.
The reasoning behind adding offense and neglecting the rotation was simple, really.
Instead of dumping money into a pitcher the club didn’t believe in going forward (Jon Lester), or adding one of the free agent markets so-called aces (James Shields), Cherington used the teams resources to fortify one of the most sought after aspects of a pitching-dominated game — offense. Instead of paying free agent premiums for starting pitching, Cherington used his trade chips to assemble a respectable rotation on paper. This strategy didn’t interrupt the teams long term goals with prospects and maintained the team’s budding young core. While this tactic was understandably met with raised eyebrows, these moves were meant to emphasize the long term future of the Red Sox.
Cherington’s plan, while sound in judgment, hasn’t panned out for the 2015 season, but for different reasons than what we were lead to believe in the winter. Currently, Boston’s offense holds numbers that rival some of the worst in the MLB. After Hanley Ramirez’s scorching hot April, in which he hit 10 home runs in 21 games, the slugger has plummeted back to earth and hit sub-.230 for the month of May. Similarly, Sandoval has struggled in between spurts of hot hitting out of the gate, and currently holds a .244 batting average. The two newcomers aren’t all to blame, however, as the struggles of David Ortiz and Mike Napoli have been well documented.
Meanwhile, the area most questioned in the offseason has become perhaps a strength going forward. Clay Buchholz has pitched like an ace, Wade Miley has began to find his form and, most recently, Eduardo Rodriguez has given the team a shot in the arm over his first two major league outings. While Joe Kelly and Justin Masterson have proven to be flops, Boston holds two prospects in Brian Johnson and Henry Owens that are waiting in the wings for the call to Boston.
I think it’s fair to say that a general manager should only be fired if he sets the franchise back with bad contracts and/or poor trade returns; Cherington has not done either of those things. Instead, he’s kept the farm system fruitful, while fielding (what should be) a competitive product in the majors. The job of a general manager mainly survives on the pieces they put in place, and how responsible they are in acquiring those pieces. Thus, Ben Cherington should not be the one to shoulder the blame for a team that threatens to finish in last place in the AL East for the second straight season.
- With another solid pitching performance under his belt, Eduardo Rodriguez has all but solidified his spot in the rotation. Now with the 22-year old in the starting mix, who’s on their way out? (With Eduardo Rodriguez here to stay, who leaves Boston’s rotation?)
- Rick Porcello came to Boston as a starter with a knack for inducing groundballs in bunches, but so far this season he hasn’t come as advertised. Without putting emphasis on collecting more strikeouts, the 27-year old has watched his groundball numbers plummet and his strikeout numbers inflate. Perhaps subsequently, the right-hander is in the midst of a tough season. (Strikeouts are for other guys, or how Rick Porcello rediscovered the pitcher he needs to be)
- Even the most pessimistic members of the Boston media can spot rays of hope sometimes. (Massarotti on Red Sox: 5 things to be happy about)
- It may come as a surprise to some, but the Red Sox actually traded something of slight interest for Alejandro De Aza. (Red Sox trade Gunkel to Baltimore for De Aza)
- Tweet of the day: My tweet, but consider this…
To put things into perspective: I went to an MLS game tonight and they scored 3 goals. The Red Sox collected 2 HITS.
— Dan O'Mara (@Dan_OMara) June 4, 2015