It’s time for changes at Fenway. After two very successful months of April and May, the Red Sox are struggling more and more each day in June and they’re watching their odds for the playoffs dwindle. The team is 7 -12 in June and has gone from first place to now being on the brink of third. Granted, there have been some injuries that have impacted the team including Brock Holt, Blake Swihart, Pablo Sandoval, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Carson Smith. However, the core of the team is still in tact.
The problem is that the role players simply aren’t good enough and they also aren’t being managed well. Dave Dombrowski was hired to make big splashes and fill in the holes on a team that had a strong core. The time is now. If they wait until the deadline, it may be too late and the team could be setting itself up for a repeat of 2014 and 2015. After such a promising start, that would be unacceptable.
There has been a lot of talk about the Red Sox needing a #2 starter. That hasn’t been the problem. In fact, the Red Sox have three starting pitchers who are on pace for 18 wins in David Price, Steven Wright, and Rick Porcello. Price has underperformed, Wright has been a major surprise, and Porcello has delivered what was expected when the Sox signed him to a long term contract. The Red Sox have three quality starting pitchers. The problem is not a #2 starter. The problem is that they have gotten absolutely nothing from their #4 and 5 starters. In fact, outside of the top three, the Red Sox don’t even have a starting pitcher with more than three wins. The team simply cannot contend when 40% of the starting rotation is not performing at all. The Red Sox need a starting pitcher and they need one badly. While the focus has been on getting an elite guy, they need to at least get a serviceable #4 or 5 starter that can give the Red Sox a chance to win games. They don’t have that right now.
Now we get to the bullpen. Going into the season, this was viewed as a position of strength. With Junichi Tazawa, Carson Smith, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel leading the bullpen, the roster was vastly improved. Kimbrel has been very solid despite his struggles in non-save situations. Tazawa has been….Tazawa. Carson Smith is out for the year. Koji Uehara appears to be cooked. A position of strength has become a major weakness. A set up guy for Kimbrel is a major need. The Red Sox have been losing too many close games late because they can’t compete with other contenders elite bullpens.
Now we get to the offense. Certainly, no one is going to say an offense that leads MLB in runs is going to need a major overhaul. However, there’s some tweaking needed here as well. The Red Sox, again, are very weak depth wise. They’re frequently having Marco Hernandez pinch hit late in games. It’s not working. When Brock Holt returns this will help a lot. It’s been reported that he’s very close. However, the lack of depth in both the infield and outfield has been glaring and has cost the Red Sox games already.
In addition, Hanley Ramirez continues to disappoint. Who thought Ramirez would be better defensively than offensively? Ramirez is 73rd out of 87 of qualifying players in slugging % in the American League. 73rd! Not good. Not to mention that his manager has him hitting 4th and 5th in the lineup consistently. Which brings us to…
The Red Sox finished in last place in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, it was a World Series winning team returning and in 2015 it was a team that had high expectations. In 2016, they’re on the verge of becoming a third place team. What do these three teams have in common? They were all managed by John Farrell. Is this really what we can expect from a team that has six players who are strong candidates for the All Star Team this year in David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Steven Wright, and Craig Kimbrel? Not to mention having players like Dustin Pedroia, David Price, and Rick Porcello?
This team has so much talent. Yes, there are holes to fill, but the core is still very strong. Yet, they continue to be mediocre or worse under John Farrell. Is Farrell the sole reason for the recent decline? No. However, ask yourself this question. Do you think John Farrell is the best available manager for the Boston Red Sox right now? If the answer is no then he shouldn’t be here. He’s been below average for three years. There’s a trend there.
The pressure is now on Dave Dombrowski to make some moves that can help this team turn it around. The talent is there. The leadership, in game management, and depth is not. It’s now Dombrowski’s job to change that.