Late Friday night, the lowly Oakland Athletics were popping off (“hip-hop”?) fireworks to celebrate just their 19th win of the season. This one was in walkoff fashion, after another meatball from Heath Hembree to Mark Canha, landing in the mountain of stairs and empty seats in left field of the old Coliseum.
Don’t misunderstand; the bullpen is not the problem here, as it’s among the best in baseball in ERA. In fact, the bullpen’s been overextended as the result of the team’s main issue that I’ll get into in a second.
Never mind the fact that the Red Sox are right in the middle of a road trip that’s had two extra-inning games in three days, so they’re currently tired out.
It’s been two of four games in this Oakland series and I’ve heard enough “California Love” to last me the rest of my life. And that Holy Toledo sign? Goofy.
The problem is that the Red Sox just haven’t proved that they’re built to win; not for the playoffs or even the regular season. Sitting at 21-20, this team is consistently inconsistent, except on days where Chris Sale pitches. Even then, the team still can’t provide the run support Sale needs to pitch optimally.
Oops, I spoiled the surprise. If you watched this team at all this season, it wasn’t much of a surprise what the issue was. Sure, the starting pitching isn’t what it’s supposed to be, but it’s only part of the problem. Mr. Cy Porcello has devolved back to his sucky 2015 form, and we’ll be lighting off fireworks by the time David Price is “ready” to return to the Red Sox.
Eduardo Rodriguez has been okayish-good depending on who you ask. (For the record, I’m no longer an ERod guy, he lost me after last year with all of his injuries.) I still think we’re witnessing the height of his powers simply because of all those injuries, but even if he were fully healthy I don’t see him being better than a solid 3 starter, which isn’t all that bad.
Chris Sale’s been as advertised and thank God, because I was beginning to think pitching well in Fenway was impossible with Price and Pomeranz being duds and the media being too much *stares directly at Price* to handle.
Down the shit list, we have Dwew Poopypants, the artist formerly known as Steven Wright, Kyle “At Least I Had A Good Spring Training” Kendrick, Brian “The Process” Johnson, and Vincent Velazquez, Henry Owens and out of these, there is no No.5 starter so the Sox are stuck with a four-man rotation.
There is legitimately a black hole at third base, which will result in a black hole in an already dwindling farm system in Dave Dombrowski trades for Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier to fill the gap. (Please God no)
This all started with the trade of Travis Shaw and the gamble that Pablo Sandoval wouldn’t be a waste of space, time, and money over at third. Boy, do the Red Sox know how to put a guy on the DL after he earns the right to be perma-benched for his play. As soon as the Red Sox can cut bait on Sandoval, they have to. It’s not even up for discussion anymore.
Back to DD’s aggressiveness, the team is in a dangerous position where he will spare no expense to make the team perform in the short term. But if you saw the past few trades he’s made, you already knew that.
Speaking of the Dombrowski trades, I’ll take this time to remind you that the team is still without both Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, who still have not played this season.
When (if) these two return to action, it can be assumed that the bullpen will be better since the bullpen will have more options and won’t be spread so thin as it as right now. Hopefully they won’t be duds like Fernando Abad.
And now back to the $217 million dollar elephant in the room, David Price. He looked awful in his first rehab start with Pawtucket, which all but confirms Price will need more time before he’s even at Drew Poopypants’ level as a pitcher. Rehab starts are meant to be crash courses for recovering pitchers who can barely conjure the strength to throw, so the slip-ups are at least understandable.
I won’t put too much stock in bad rehab starts, or in any of Doctor John Farrell’s injury estimates, because “a couple of months” usually means “his season is fucking donezo”, and we as fans are supposed to believe him.
Dustin Pedroia, the supposed leader of this team, is behaving less and less like that by the day.
In summary, Pedroia had the ridiculous catfight with Manny Machado, told off the media for criticizing the team’s play after losing three straight to the Oakland Pathetics, and notching just two home runs and sixteen RBIs through forty games. At least he hasn’t been hurt for an extended period of time yet.
All the while, just about nobody in the lineup is going deep. Mookie Betts is slowly putting it together, but that’s it.
Andrew Benintendi is slowly breaking out of a rookie slump. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a couple of home runs and made an incredible catch, but he still hasn’t hit consistently. Mitch Moreland hits doubles if he gets on base at all. Pedroia’s been ok, Xander Bogaerts is getting on base but hardly doing so in meaningful situations (no home runs and just twelve RBIs, but with a .340 average). Chris Young’s been effective as a lefty killer, but that’s it. Hanley Ramirez is yet to show anything near his success in 2016, and Christian Vazquez is currently in the lead to be the everyday catcher.
Where do the Red Sox go from here? They either nut up and start hitting the ball, or they’ll play .500 or below baseball to get John Farrell fired despite doing a better job with the bullpen this season.
Bottom line: They’re yet to prove anything all while the time to do that is running out. A winning streak is what they need to build their confidence, and that’s what the four games in Oakland should’ve done. Pedroia can say the team still has time, but the clock is ticking.