We start a three game weekend series with the Red Sox tonight.
Boston is in first in the AL East, with a 29-18 record, we are sitting third 6 games back. They are scoring like we were last year, leading the league in runs per game, with 5.87, by more than a run over the second place Mariners at 4.78. We are 11 in the AL at 4.02.
On defense, the Red Sox are 10th in the AL, allowing 4.34 runs per game. We are sitting 5th at 3.98.
I sent off some questions to Matt Collins of Over the Monster and he was nice enough to answer them
This jump from last (last year) to first (this year) must be interesting for Red Sox fans. Are fans buying into it or are they worried about that it will evaporate?
I think fans are definitely cautiously optimistic. There were high expectations for the team heading into the year, particularly with David Price and Craig Kimbrel coming in. The early-season success has just validated that optimism. That being said, it’s still Boston so there is certainly some concern that things will take a turn for the worse. I don’t think the worst-to-first thing is really fazing anyone, though. It’s just kind of been the way things have gone here the last few years. We’re essentially numb to the wild fluctuations.
What do you think of our former friend John Farrell? What do you think of strengths and wearknesses?
I have a hard time judging managers in general, and Farrell is even more confounding. He has clear weaknesses, specifically managing the bullpen and over-prioritizing playing time for veterans. However, players really do seem to like him and he does a good job of keeping the peace in the clubhouse. As we saw from Terry Francona last decade, that’s probably the most important part of the manager’s job. I don’t think he’s a game-changer by any means, and a different manager could likely produce the same results, but overall he’s been fine this year.
David Ortiz is having a great start to the season, is he going to get talked out of retirement?
I would be shocked if he changed his mind. Given his production the last couple seasons before this one, it was clear from the start that performance was not going to be his reasoning for hanging it up. He’s said many times that it’s the grind of the season, and no matter how well he plays that part of things won’t change. It’s been awesome to see him play this well, and I’d obviously be thrilled if he decided to come back for 2017, but I can’t see it happening.
What is going on with Clay Buckholtz? What do you think the Red Sox will do with him, if he doesn’t return to form?
Buchholz has been the biggest disappointment on the team by far. Everyone knew his performance fluctuates wildly from year-to-year, but I think most were at least hopeful. Good Buchholz would show up this season. Luckily, Steven Wright has been far better than even the most optimistic projections, and Rick Porcello has been much better than he was last year. We’re now at the point that it’s unlikely Buchholz will make his next start, and there’s a decent chance he’s thrown his last pitch of the season. Eduardo Rodriguez is coming back to fill his spot, and if the Red Sox stay in contention for the next month one would expect them to go after any starting pitchers available at the deadline.
How has Hanley Ramirez looked at first base? What do you think his future is with the team beyond this year?
Ramirez has looked much better than most people expected. In hindsight, it should have been somewhat easy to see coming considering his vast experience in the infield. Of course, left field should have been relatively easy too, and we all know how that turned out. There are still a few mental mistakes here and there, but by and large he’s been more than acceptable at his new position. It’s to the point where it’s becoming more realistic that they can keep him there next year and look for a DH-only piece to replace Ortiz if they need to.
I think there’s definitely a group of fans that are upset about it, though that doesn’t take away from it being a media creation. It’s one of those things that would’ve bothered some, and it was exacerbated by the coverage. Personally, I couldn’t care less, but I also wasn’t alive for 1986 and was born in Boggs’ final season for the Red Sox, so there’s no personal connection for me.
Travis Shaw is hitting much better than I figured he would. Is this what he is, or are you expecting some regression? How is his defense?
There’s surely some regression coming offensively. We’ve already started to see it in the last couple of weeks in which he’s hit .200/.250/.350 in his last ten games. He still has a .389 BABIP, and that’s going to come down. He’s still a solid hitter, though, and I’d expect him to end the year somewhere around 10 or 15 percent above average. His defense at third was what really worried me before the year, and he’s blown me away. It’s not even that he’s been great — because like Ramirez there have been some scattered errors — but I thought he’d be flat-out bad. He can stick at the hot corner for a while, which is a very positive development for the long-term outlook of this team.
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