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Disappointment in Red Sox Nation


06/07/17
By Dave Long dlong@hippopress.com



 With the Celtics on a playoff roll, the Red Sox have been pushed to the back of the Longshots line all season. But with June here it’s time to look at what’s been a very disappointing (and boring) start to 2017, a year that began with sky-high expectations. But the best thing about the interminably long baseball season is it’s interminably long — that gives teams a chance to recover after mucking around for up to even four months, as the Sox did in 2004 and the Yanks (gulp) in 1978, when both shook it off and delivered on high expectations. 

In the meantime, here are some thoughts on what has gone down so far.
What I like best so far: (a) Chris Sale, with 101 K’s in 71 innings and at 5-2 when the run support hasn’t been great, is one who’s lived up to expectations; (b) Craig Kimbrel, with an ERA of 0.87 and 40 strikeouts in his first 20.2 innings, has been the definition of lights out; (c) Eduardo Rodriguez — at 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA, his last six starts have been really solid and most importantly he has no real bad starts, so he may finally be living up to his promise; (d) Andrew Benintendi is in a bit of a funk right now, but I love that swing. 
Baseball 101: Who is the active strikeout leader among MLB pitchers?  
Why Can’t We Get Guys Like That Award: With Tyler Thornburg yet to throw a pitch amid the ongoing calamity that is third base, this award goes to Travis Shaw, whose 34 RBI as I write this are seventh-best in baseball. 
Which brings me to Dave Dombrowski’s last four pitching acquisitions: (1) Carson Smith — yet to throw a pitch; (2) Thornburg — ditto; (3) Drew Pomeranz — San Diego concealed an elbow injury that curtailed his production after the mid-2016 trade; (4) David Price — has only made one start in Year 2 after going 17-9 with a higher than normal 3.99 ERA. Hmmm.  
Of course, that bad karma may extend to those traded as well. Top prospect Anderson Espinoza, who went west for Pomeranz, hasn’t thrown a pitch all year due to injury either.
Baseball 101 Answer: CC Sabathia is the active strikeout leader with 2,763. That puts him 22nd on the all-time strikeout list.  
Baseball 102: Name the pitcher who’s led the league in wins most often.
What I like least about the Red Sox so far: (a) Xander Bogaerts, with just one home run; (b) Rick Porcello pitching like he did in Detroit, (c) David Price, taking longer to come back than it did for Francisco Franco to die after he fell into the coma. 
Since Mookie is their best player and has more power, why in the name of Ricky Henderson is he leading off and one-homer guy Xander Bogaerts batting third? Shouldn’t they switch spots in the order? 
To those who don’t think John Farrell doesn’t do enough small type things in close games: in Betts, Bogaerts and Benintendi he has three guys on a pace to steal 30 bases each. When’s the last time that happened in Boston? If I had to guess, I’d say in the days of Tris Speaker.   
Speaking of the manager: Would you pleeeease bat JBJR ninth? He hits better down there and when he does it extends the beginning of the line-up the second time around the order.
What I Expect to Happen: (a) Mookie to eventually blast off; (b) It to come out that Hanley Ramirez is not playing first base because he doesn’t want to and the brass let him get away with it. (c) AL East to get it in gear when the weather finally gets warm and roll to the title. 
Geniuses like radio guy Tony Mazz whining all winter that Dombo made a big mistake dumping Clay Buchholz because he gave them pitching depth don’t look so smart now. Not that they ever do. True the latter is needed, but ignoring his injury history was idiotic — it lived up to form when he tore a muscle in his elbow in his first start with Philly and is likely gone for the year. 
Those who pushed Edwin Encarnacion to replace David Ortiz also ain’t looking great at the moment. His numbers project over a full year to .207, 21 homers and 51 RBI, hardly a great return for $20 million per. And, told ya signing Jose Bautista would be the 21st-century version of Lou Gorman signing Jack Clark in 1992. He’s at .227, seven homers and 22 RBI. 
After five games Chris Sale had given up just five earned runs in 37.2 innings and was just 1-2 with a 1.19 ERA. In the next three he gave up 11 runs in 28 innings but was 3-0. What does that say about pitching and baseball? And if you had your choice, which of those pitchers do you want? The one with the stellar ERA and under .500, or the one with a 3.11 ERA and 3-0? 
I just checked — nope on the Tris Speaker-era 30 steals question. When the Sox won the series in 1912 he had 52, Harry Hooper had 29 and some guy named Larry (the) Gardner had 25. It was closer in 1910 when Speaker had 35, Hooper 40 and Heinie Wagner had 26.
Baseball 102 Answer: The great Warren Spahn led the NL in wins a most-ever eight times on his way to 363 career wins. Next is a three-way tie at six between Grover Cleveland Alexander, Walter Johnson and Bob Feller.  
Did Andrew Benintendi go into his funk because he’s just in a funk like everyone has, because the Sox put too much pressure on him too early by batting him clean-up, or because after a couple of times around the league now has a book on him like they get on most rookies that he must adjust to? 
Next week, a look at the rest of baseball.  
Email Dave Long at dlong@hippopress.com. 





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