What a difference a week makes. A week ago, there was some hope for the Red Sox after the comeback win against the A’s. Since then, they have been swept by the Orioles and the Blue Jays. Not only did they lose six in a row, but they looked really bad doing it. These past six games had it all. There was the 8-1 blown lead against the Blue Jays, a blowup in the dugout between Wade Miley and John Farrell, and defensive miscues that even led to mock cheers by the Fenway Faithful. This has gotten really bad. Last week, I posted about the need for the Sox to contend. With each day that passes by, it seems more and more unlikely. We’re at a point where it’s unlikely that it’s even a remote possibility. For the third time in four years, it looks like the Red Sox season could be over by mid-July. Is there still time to turn this around? Yes. However, they would need to go on a big win streak really soon. We can only hope for a miracle.
The big story right now is all of the blame that’s being put on the players, Ben Cherington, and John Farrell and how that blame is being divided up. The players have underperformed. The GM made many questionable moves that haven’t worked out. The manager seems to have no control over anything that’s going on the team and he certainly hasn’t made a positive impact on the pitching staff. As the past week has gone on, many fans and media members have put more of the blame on Cherington for the team he put together. The main points have been around the signing of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval as both players have underperformed and have been very weak defensively. Cherington’s job this offseason was to put a team on the field that would contend and win while still developing the young talent in the organization. He brought in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, and Justin Masterson to go with Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz in the rotation. The team lacked an “ace”, but they had five starters who had some success of the course of their careers. The offense? With the additions of Ramirez and Sandoval, the offense was expected to be the strength of the team. In fact, some writers had the Red Sox as having the best offense in all of MLB going into the season. The predictions? The Red Sox were not the going away favorite in the AL East, but many people picked them to win the division and the majority of the rest had them in the wild card or at least contending. Very few had the team not in the hunt at all. The feeling was that there was enough improvement made to contend in the American League.
Ben Cherington put a team together that was expected to contend. Granted, at big part of his job is to be able to project what each player will contribute in the years the player is signed for. However, part of his decision making is looking at what each player has contributed and setting expectations based on that. Let’s take a look at the starting lineup. Other than Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts has any player even met expectations? Those two players have done what they were expected to do or even more. Everyone else has been below expectations. Going into today’s game, here were the RBI projections for the season for the #3 through #6 hitters. David Ortiz – 64 RBI, Hanley Ramirez – 82, Pablo Sandoval – 59, Mike Napoli 67. Other than Ramirez, is that even close to the production that was expected this season for the heart of the order? Weren’t we expecting 80+ RBI’s for Sandoval and Napoli and 100+ for Ramirez and Ortiz? The same is true for the pitching staff. All five starters to start the season have an ERA below their career averages this year. Clay Buchholz – 4.22, Rick Porcello – 5.26, Wade Miley – 5.07, Justin Masterson – 6.37, Joe Kelly – 5.45. To take this a step further, four of the five starters have the worst ERA of their entire career this year! Buchholz is the only pitcher in the entire rotation who is not having his worst year he’s ever had!
The players have a lot of accountability here. For the most part, they’ve been underperforming and it’s led to the mess we’ve been watching all year. Cherington is also getting a lot of blame here. He certainly deserves some blame as the moves he’s made have not all worked out. However, he put a team together that was expected to contend. These are good baseball players! Pablo Sandoval is a good player. Rick Porcello is a good pitcher. Cherington gave Farrell the pieces of the puzzle to work with and the pieces haven’t been put together. In addition, Cherington is also getting a lot of heat for last year. What were the expectations last year? The team was coming off a World Series win and brought back the same core team in 2014 with the exception of Jacoby Ellsbury and Jake Peavy. Jacoby Ellsbury was not coming back to Boston. We all knew that. Again, this was the same core team that won the World Series except for one player who ended up hitting .271 last year and a #5 starter. Cherington was the Executive of the Year in 2013 and brought back the same team. The team didn’t perform and needed to be broken up in July. Why was that his fault?
The point here is that John Farrell’s managing is a bigger problem than Ben Cherington’s moves. Farrell was given the players that were expected to perform. They have underperformed. The manager’s job is to get the best out of his players. He’s getting the worst especially on the pitching side. He needs to be accountable for that. In addition, Farrell was hired as a pitching guru. Look at the ERA’s again. A pitching guru? Four of the five starting pitchers on the Red Sox are having the worst year of their entire career under a new manager. Coincidence? As I stated last week, Farrell needs to go. He has done a very poor job with this team. Cherington has made some questionable moves, but he has put teams on the field that were expected to win two years in a row. Farrell hasn’t won with a team of good players. This is a trend.
John Farrell has a career record of 349-362. His teams have finished in fourth or fifth place in three out of four seasons. This is his fifth season and his team is in fifth place. He has been in fourth or fifth place in 75% of the seasons he has managed. We could be going on 80%…unless they make the change and move on. Let’s go Red Sox!