Are the Red Sox good? I think so, but with the errors piling up and the team heretofore locked in a pointless feud with the Orioles, doubts have piled up like hot pants on a Simpsons seashore. After tonight’s game, the Sox don’t play the Orioles until June 1st, which is still too close for my liking, but the schedule doesn’t care what I think, and it does give me time to breathe.
To overreact to last night: Pitching is going to be a problem unless David Price fills the rotation spot that’s nominally his. We’ve seen so many pitchers get hurt in Spring Training, go to rehab and get hurt again that it’s become a well for gallows humor. That said, he threw 95 off a mound on Thursday, which is good, and all we can hope is that each moment is better than the last.
Kyle Kendrick probably won’t be a great answer, but he’s probably a better answer than Steven Wright. It’s probably worth noting that if Kendrick had broken camp in Wright’s place the Sox might have a better record than they do now, even after last night’s disaster. It’s sad that Wright got injured and that he’s gone, but he was about as bad as one can ben.
The other major problem is at third base, which is turning over like the drummers for Spinal Tap. It’s down to Josh Rutledge and new acquisition Chase D’Arnaud. Boston’s strategy of being deep but average-at-best -- employing Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt, Rutledge and Hernandez -- didn’t last a month, which is basically just bad luck.
There is a chance Rutledge can be good enough, but I didn’t want to be hoping so by Drunk White People de Mayo. I’ve warmed to him, and think he could be sneaky good enough for a while, but if he’s not, and Brock Holt can’t go, it’s probably time to at least think about working in an all-glove no hit shortstop like Deven Marrero (h/t Jake Devereaux), so be it. If Christian Vazquez is going to hit like Mike Trout, I think the Sox can afford it.
Then, of course, there is Rafael Devers, but my guess is that they’ve targeted bringing him up later in the year and will only budge if he unilaterally forces their hands. Point being, I don’t think he jumps Marrero in the realm of “possible fixes,” and even late in the season is likely to exist alongside him.
But for as bad as third base has been, it’s mostly funny. The starting pitching is the real problem, and that’s with great seasons from the three lefties. The righties have been so iffy that the plague has extended to centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who can’t throw back into the infield at the moment. (A quick aside on that note, though: The Red Sox have deepest roster of potential center fielders on any team than I can remember in Boston or elsewhere. So I’m not truly worried about it, at least on the hierarchy of worries.)
I am, however, starting to wane in my terminal early-season optimism. I’m not pessimistic, per se, but the competition is better than expected and any injury to Chris Sale would be catastrophic to the team, given that an injury to the oft-injured Pomeranz would be crippling at this point. It’s incredible to think that it was only a month ago there was a groundswell of gripes that the Sox didn’t take Anderson Espinoza back from the Padres when they had the chance. About that...
It was silly, and now it has been exposed as silly, but it’s understandable. Like most armchair Sox philosophy, it’s fair and healthy and some ways and unfair and unhealthy in others, but it’s inevitable. You can’t stumble into be sneaky right at times without being wrong more often, and, this being something like baseball, you might like a genius if you’re right a third of the time. That’s not good enough for me. I’ll pitch better ideas, and stick with those ratios.
Still, I strongly prefer farcical baseball takes to whatever farce the Orioles and Red Sox have been putting on, and I strongly prefer any pairing of managers to Buck Showalter and John Farrell. If I can appreciate Showalter’s troll place of a brawl that still seems certain, I can also admit when it has gone too far, and Farrell has led it. For all my denunciations of violence, if Farrell and Showalter wanted to settle things the old way, I’d be into it despite the incredible hypocrisy. It’s our flaws that make us human, and like these Red Sox, I’m human after all. I just don’t want these pitchers throwing punches when we need every throw going to home plate.