Seemingly everything was going their way last season, but it is now apparent that the Boston Red Sox may be in some trouble. When their pitchers do well, the offense can’t back them up. When the offense finally puts up some runs, the bullpen blows it.
In the team’s current eight game skid, they have been outscored 38-16, including three one-run games, two of which were 1-0. The offense has been stagnant to say the least. David Ortiz, who has been the Red Sox best player, saw his hot streak come and go and since the losing streak has started, his average has fell from .305 to .276. Dustin Pedroia’s has dropped .012, while the recently injured Shane Victorino saw his drop a whopping .060.
The lone bright spot in the order has been Xander Bogaerts, who has posted four multi-hit games and two home runs during the stretch. Bogaerts will be heading into a stretch of uncertainty and most likely change, as the Sox brought back Stephen Drew earlier in the week.
With Bogaerts shaky in the field and Will Middlebrooks back on the DL after struggling at the plate yet again, the Sox were put in a situation where a move had to be made. While Brock Holt has been an adequate fill-in at third base, it would appear that Stephen Drew will be pushing Bogaerts back over to the hot corner, where he played during the World Series last year.
Middlebrooks may very well be the odd man out if everything works out alright with Drew and Bogaerts on the left side of the infield. ESPN Boston’s Kyle Brasseur reports that a position change may be the only option for Middlebrooks if he is to stay on the team, even mentioning the possibility of the outfield.
The outfield is a whole different mess of its own not even factoring Middlebrooks into the picture. With Shane Victorino out for at least 15 days, Daniel Nava was brought back up from Pawtucket to take his spot on the roster. There had been talks of abandoning the Grady Sizemore experiment, but now with Victorino out, Sizemore can improve his chances of staying on the roster if he gets on base a bit more. It is obvious that the Sox are missing Jacoby Ellsbury in their lineup and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s .204 average is not helping his case as the future center fielder. Surprisingly enough, Jonny Gomes has been the most productive outfielder in limited action, posting a .739 OPS in 99 at bats. It is definitely a bad sign if your 4th or 5th outfielder is performing the best a quarter of the way through the season.
So what needs to happen for this team to turn their losing ways around? Well, one of a few things would certainly help. Health is one big factor which didn’t really effect the Sox that much last season and has definitely set them back a bit this year. Even Mike Napoli and Ortiz are banged up, adding to the laundry list of guys on the DL. If the lineup stays healthy heading towards the half-way mark of the season, the team should become more consistent. If the Sox find themselves in another stretch like this one, they might not be able to recover later in the season. Something else that could help is if someone stepped up and had a career year.
Last season, Nava, Victorino, and Koji Uehara all played near the top of their potential or above it. This year, you can’t point to anyone and say that they are exceeding expectations. If the Red Sox roster looked more like the Los Angeles Dodgers’, they could afford players having average seasons or slightly under-performing. However, the Red Sox are not exactly laden with superstars and must get by on what they have or make a move.
With plenty of prospects, perhaps a mid-season acquisition is looming. If the Red Sox were not content with waiting out their young players by bringing Stephen Drew back, maybe they are looking to make an even bigger move. While the Marlins are faring quite well in the NL East, they probably won’t make it too far with their ace Jose Fernandez out for the season. Giancarlo Stanton, anyone? That’s a talk for another day. For now, the Sox need to fight their way back to .500 and hope that nobody in their division starts to run away with the lead.