Welcome back to Read Sox. This week we consider the possibility that this Red Sox team might just not be very good and continue to be disappointed with David Price’s performances. And, in honor of his call-up to the majors, we monitor the journalistic race to talk to all person’s who have ever known Andrew Benintendi — and make an interview request for his hair stylist.
Our long regional nightmare of a West Coast road trip is finally over. After a day off Monday, the Red Sox stumble home for six games against the Yankees and Diamondbacks before hitting the road once more. So, after the team went 5-6 on its West Coast swing and has played 110 games of the season, do we really know what this Red Sox team is?
Red Sox fans recently haven’t been treated to much mediocrity. Since the decidedly bad month of September in 2011, the Sox handed in an awful 2012, a great (and title winning) 2013, and flopped to last-place finishes in 2014 and 2015. As the Boston Herald’s Evan Drellich wrote in April, and pointed out again on Twitter over the weekend, this 2016 incarnation of the Red Sox may just be okay.
The Red Sox sit at 60-50 and can’t seem to ever combine their impressive bats with any semblance of pitching. On this road trip, the team picked a new way to infuriate its fanbase, and it was the pitching staff’s turn to impress (for the most part — we’ll get to you, David Price) while the offense floundered.
As Drellich noted on Twitter, a whole lot of the Red Sox lineup has flat stunk for the past couple weeks. That group includes three players in Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and David Ortiz that started the All-Star game just a few weeks ago. Those three have combined to go 28 for 160, a .175 batting average, since July 25. The team as a whole is hitting .230 with a .669 OPS during that span during which, unsurprisingly, the team has struggled to a 5-9 record.
Meanwhile, the pitching staff as a whole has been very serviceable of late. A rotation of Price, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez may not win a championship this year, but it is a solid five-some of — at the very least — serviceable starters. And that’s more than could be said of the pitching staff six weeks ago. Again, Drellich points out that the team’s ERA is the fourth-best in the AL since July 25. Going back even further to the weekend before the All-Star break, the Red Sox have a team ERA of 3.35. Disappointingly, the team holds only a 13-12 record in those contests. But still, that ERA is pretty good!
You know who’s been less than pretty good? If you watched, Sunday’s game, of course you do. In another game in which the Red Sox could have dearly used a win, David Price took the mound and failed to deliver. After a disappointing outing led to an 8-5 Red Sox loss, the Sox fell to 0-3 in starts made by the left-hander on the road trip. While the first loss was definitely not his fault and the second one was only kind of his fault, Price was simply not good enough Sunday. He allowed six hits and five walks in five innings while being charged with six runs (just three earned as a result of a trio of Sox errors). As the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham notes, the Red Sox are just 11-13 in games started by the $217 million signee.
Following Sunday’s defeat and the end of a below-.500 road swing, pessimistic #taeks abounded on Red Sox Twitter. WEEI.com’s John Tomase checked in from the Sky Is Falling department, writing that the Red Sox’s season feels like it’s slipping away amidst a multitude of close defeats and disappointing performances.
Whether you subscribe to such negative feelings about the tail end of the season or no, it may be time to acknowledge that this team is what it is. And that isn’t awful. Nor is it amazing. The 2016 Red Sox are probably just pretty good.
That was dreary and very little fun, so let’s get optimistic and talk about Andrew Benintendi! He’s five-for-13 thus far in the majors, and recorded three hits on Sunday with an RBI, run scored and stolen base. Abraham talked to Dave Van Horn, who coached Benintendi at Arkansas, about the outfielder’s uptick in strength between his freshman and sophomore seasons that helped him turn into a great player and prospect.
WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford talked to Carlos Febles, the manager of the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, about being the one to tell Benintendi he had been called up to the big league club, and how Benintendi reacted.
And over at MassLive, Christopher Smith talked to Benintendi’s family about his promotion to the bigs. While reporters are talking to everyone in Benintendi’s life to get an exclusive look at the young outfielder, can someone please get ahold of the person who cuts the man’s hair and ask what the key is to achieving such magnificent flow?
Although his most recent start wasn’t a great one, Eduardo Rodriguez has started to pitch like an adult major league pitcher again, which is nice. Much has been made of Rodriguez’s success as he reincorporates a breaking ball into his arsenal. Matt Collins breaks it down using some fancy Brooks Baseball charts at Over the Monster.
On the injury front, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal is reporting that Chris Young could begin a rehab assignment early this week. Meanwhile, Abraham says it is “likely” that catcher/outfielder Blake Swihart will require season-ending surgery on his sprained ankle. That would end what has been a lost season for Swihart, who at one point had been bestowed with the tag “untouchable.”
Photo by Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports Images