Welcome back to Read Sox. This week we examine the shake-ups in the Red Sox’ clubhouse, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s return to the big leagues and, yes, Major League Baseball’s response to Deflategate.
Once the losses started piling up for the Red Sox, change was inevitable. First came the firing of Juan Nieves, then the Sox shipped off Anthony Varvaro and Edward Mujica. On Saturday, they optioned Allen Craig to Triple-A Pawtucket and called up Jackie Bradley Jr. Given the changes that have been made already, the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson highlights who the Red Sox’s next casualties could be if the losing continues. The most likely changes will come from the starting rotation, although manager John Farrell said Sunday the team has no immediate plans to shake things up. Justin Masterson didn’t help his case to stay in the rotation Tuesday night, however, after giving up six runs in 2.1 innings in Oakland. Also, as MacPherson points out, Red Sox right fielders sport a sub-.200 slugging percentage. Perhaps Rusney Castillo is on the way. It’s fair to say those making these decisions should be under a close microscope as well.
Craig’s demotion to Triple A along with Joe Kelly’s ineptitude over his last four starts inspired The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo to reveal a disheartening truth: last summer’s trade deadline deal to send John Lackey to the Cardinals in exchange for Craig and Kelly looks atrocious for the Red Sox so far. When Craig was with the big-league club in 2015, he was used primarily as the fourth or fifth outfielder and hit .135/.237/.192 with a .204 TAv in 59 plate appearances. Kelly, who walked seven batters in the Sox’ loss in Toronto Saturday, has allowed five or more runs in his last four outings, inflating his ERA to 6.35 and his FIP to 4.48. Meanwhile, Lackey boasts a 3.16 FIP and is averaging 6.41 strikeouts and 0.46 home runs per nine innings. It looks even worse when you remember the right-hander is pitching for a major-league minimum $500,000 salary.
If anyone has benefitted from the Red Sox’s woeful start to May, especially on offense, it’s Jackie Bradley Jr. An ugly rookie season in 2014 and an abundance of outfielders forced Bradley to start 2015 in Triple-A. But after posting a .400 wOBA and .398 BABIP through 24 games in Pawtucket, Bradley was called back up to the majors on Sunday. Now, as The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier writes, Bradley is trying to reassert himself as a viable big leaguer with an improved swing.
The Red Sox hired recent Cleveland Indians Triple-A pitching coach Carl Willis as their next pitching coach on Saturday. MassLive.com’s Jen McCaffrey writes that the move happened so quickly that it caught Willis, who was coaching a game on Thursday, off guard. Despite how immediately the decision was made, Willis brings with him the fresh voice and experience the Sox were looking for in the wake of Nieves’ dismissal last week.
Given the way the Red Sox have hit during their recent slide, Hanley Ramirez’s return to the lineup Saturday was a welcomed site. Ramirez left last Monday’s game in the first inning after injuring his left shoulder, knocking him out of the lineup for the next three games. As WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes, Ramirez’s shoulder is still a concern given he’s had two surgeries on that same shoulder, but the left fielder is hopeful it won’t be a lingering issue.
I hate to bring it up, I really do. But you can’t go anywhere these days without a mention of Deflategate. According to a report by the Associated Press, Major League Baseball instituted a new policy to ensure ball security and storage in the wake of the New England Patriots’ deflated football scandal that has dominated sports for the last four months. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence this report came out just hours after quarterback Tom Brady was handed a four-game suspension and the team was fined $1 million and docked two draft picks.
Three Good Game Stories
CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam recaps a memorable 24 hours for Pablo Sandoval, who on Sunday night received his Giants World Series ring and Monday hit an 11th inning home run to lift the Red Sox to a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Clay Buchholz gave the struggling Red Sox a much-needed boost Sunday, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes, going 6.1 strong innings to lead the Sox to a 6-3 win over the Blue Jays.
Saturday’s 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays marked the Red Sox’s seventh letdown in their last eight games. As MassLive.com’s Jen McCaffrey writes, the loss sparked a closed-door meeting led by David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, delaying postgame media entrance into the clubhouse by an at least an extra 10 minutes.
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