We start a 3 game series with the Red Sox today.
The Sox are 13-15, sitting in 4th place in the AL East, half a game behind us.
They started the season like a team that would be a contender, at 10 games they were 7-3, but somewhere along the line they stopped hitting and their pitching has been as bad (or even slightly worse) than ours. They are worst in the AL for runs allowed per game, at 5.14 (we are second from the bottom at 5.03 runs per game). Their pitching coach, Juan Nieves, was fired yesterday.
I sent off some questions to Ben Buchanan, co-manager of Over the Monster, SB Nations Red Sox blog, and he was nice enough to answer them for us.
It seems like your Red Sox are playing much like my Jays, good offense, god awful pitching. Your starting rotation, like ours, seems particularly bad. Are you expecting the starters, Buchholz, Miley and Kelly, in particular, to improve or are there changes ahead?
You say that, but the offense is actually quite unfortunate these days too.
Still, let's stick to the question. You really have keyed in on the three names of interest. Rick Porcello is actually pitching pretty well, and just needs those home run rates to normalize, which they have of late. Justin Masterson is a train wreck, and there's no real reason to expect him to improve given his inability to hit 90 or find the zone.
That leaves Buchholz, Kelly, and Miley. Strangely, of the three, the one with the best results seems the least likely to improve. As good as he can look at times, everything about Joe Kelly screams reliever. Clay Buchholz, on the other hand, seems like he has to be better than the results suggest given his 11.49 K/9 and 2.87 BB/9. Yes, he's gotten hit hard at times, but you don't get 40 strikeouts in 31 innings if there's not something there.
The real curious case is Wade Miley. In previous years, he's been sometimes good, sometimes mediocre. He's never been anything close to what he is now. There's no obvious physical problem with him, but he just can't seem to find his slider right now, and has proven completely incapable of adjusting without it. He might not be the guy he was in 2012-2013, but there's just no precedent for how bad he's been in 2015. None.
Do you a see a trade for Cole Hamels in the near future?Inevitably, when one pitcher or another endures another disaster, the cry for Cole Hamels goes up on Twitter. Which is silly, because if the Red Sox have 1-2 competent pitchers now, adding Cole Hamels would still leave them at least two shy of a full rotation.
Inevitably, when one pitcher or another endures another disaster, the cry for Cole Hamels goes up on Twitter. Which is silly, because if the Red Sox have 1-2 competent pitchers now, adding Cole Hamels would still leave them at least two shy of a full rotation.
Will the Red Sox trade for Hamels? Maybe. They do have the talent in the minors to get a deal done, even with Swihart off limits. But the team has to prove itself worth fixing first. Because as it stands, trading for Hamels would be applying a new coat of paint to a car that's missing an engine. The front office wasn't crazy enough to try a trade like that in 2012. They won't be in 2015.
Can you update us on Henley Ramirez' injury? Will he be playing this series? His defense looked sad when I saw him earlier in the season (but a terrific bat), is he getting better in the outfield?
It's apparently not as bad as it seemed when he first went down. As of this writing--unfortunately some 48 hours before the first pitch--the Red Sox have held off on putting him on the disabled list, and the MRI has apparently shown no structural damage. We're still talking about how much movement he has in it, which would suggest that day-to-day is less a question of today or tomorrow, and more of Sunday or Wednesday.
Hopefully by the time this actually hits the site, there will be better news.
With Ryan Hanigan out, who is catching? Can we have a scouting report on his defense.
Blake Swihart! That guy the Phillies wanted for Hamels and the Red Sox wouldn't budge on. He's the first catching prospect the Red Sox have had in a very long time who can both hit and actually play the position rather than just pretending to (see: Lavarnway, Ryan).
He's not Hanigan back there, or Christian Vazquez, for that matter. But both of them are out, and Swihart has done a pretty good job back there so far. He's been kept on his toes by a rotation that seems intent on bouncing every third pitch in, and has done a fine job keeping the ball in front of him. He's not entirely familiar with the staff yet, obviously, and the arm hasn't been tested much, but he was competent in handling the running game in the minors, catching 39% of base stealers.
Really, the shame here is that he had to be called up so early. The Red Sox like to take things slow with their catching prospects, and Swihart has seen fewer than 150 plate appearances in Triple-A after spending less than a season at Double-A. It's kind of a rush-job forced by the circumstances surrounding Vazquez and Hanigan.
Do the Red Sox have any prospects likely to be up with the team and making a difference this season?
Well, Swihart is already there. The other name that comes up time and again is Eduardo Rodriguez, who has usurped the position as the team's best pitching prospect from Henry Owens since the Red Sox picked him up from the Orioles in exchange for Andrew Miller. He's allowed five earned runs in 25 innings of work so far this year in Triple-A with 22 strikeouts and two walks, and has three good pitches to work with. He's not a completely finished product as of now, but with Justin Masterson (and Miley and Kelly for that matter) pitching as they are, the Red Sox are probably going to be pulling that trigger sooner rather than later.
After Rodriguez, both the aforementioned Henry Owens and Brian Johnson could provide help to the struggling rotation in due time.
We are a month into the season, and the AL East is still very tight. How do you see the division ending up, who is the team to beat?
I wish I could say that the Yankees are a mirage that will vanish as the season wears on, because by all rights they should be. But Toronto fans have seen as often as we have that the Yankees don't seem to play by those rules. "Yankee Devil Magic" is not a real thing except that it totally is and is going to crush us all.
Optimistically, I'd like to think the Red Sox can turn it around. That Buchholz lives up to his peripherals, Miley figures it out, Rodriguez contributes, and the Sox find a fifth starter on the trade market. And of course that this offense starts actually hitting like it should rather than scoring a bunch of runs on bad defense and then going into the hole whenever the other team doesn't oblige.
But the way these past couple of weeks have gone...optimism isn't always easy.