The Red Sox are in first place nearly halfway through what was supposed to be a bridge year, and all anyone wants to talk about, it seems, is what’s going wrong. Which isn’t very much, frankly. It’s just that everything that’s not working is so bloody obvious it can’t help but drive people nuts.
The most sensitive point of contention is the leadoff spot, about which I’ve written before but about which people still complain, as if my columns are not the final say on the matter. Fine, fine I’ll do it again. To say that the hitters in the leadoff spot have been bad is an understatement. They have been worse than bad, and the fans are fed up. Everyone can see that while switch-hitter Danny Santana works great up top in theory, it does not work whatsoever in practice. Nor does Santana work very well anywhere else. It would not surprise me if he is not long for the team.
With the halfway point of the year approaching, I think Chaim Bloom and Co. are finally going to start culling the herd. Just as the third day of a professional golf tournament is the “Moving Day,” the third quarter of the baseball season might be when frustrated fans’ hopes are answered.
So yes: I expect Jarren Duran to get called up soon. If Connor Wong is ready for the big leagues because a backup catcher spot opened up, certainly the team’s top outfield prospect—one who can’t go 24 hours without hitting a homer in Worcester—is ready to join the team’s partially sickly outfield rotation. As Matt noted on this week’s Over the Monster podcast, the Sox have a recent history of calling up players beore west coast swings which, wouldn’t you know it, well, one of those is coming up! It’s not just that Duran is ready, because he’s been ready for a while, but he’s ready, the team should be ready, and he should fill a need.
Speaking of filling a need: The Sox need someone other than Garrett Richards to start for them, probably. The occasionally electric righty has slammed right into a wall, especially in the first inning—maybe his brakes were held together by Spider Tack. Anyhow he’s gotta go, likely to the bullpen, but somewhere, for sure. Fortunately, the Sox have options. Tanner Houck is finally healthy in the minors, and there’s some guy hanging out in Worcester named Chris Sale who’s nearing full strength. One or both of them could be in Boston relatively soon, preventing an outbreak of seppuku every time Richards gets pounded into the sun in the first inning.
(At least with Richards, unlike Santana, who’s fairly helpless, there’s a chance he could work well in relief, though one fears that his first-inning woes could translate to any first inning of work. In this sense Richards’s offensive counterpart is more like Franchy Cordero, who will at least hit the ball to Bangor when he makes contact, than he is like the impressively hapless Danny Boy).
Of course trade season is also ramping up, and there’s ample opportunity for the Sox to swing a deal for a position of need. Then again, they sort of have everything they need and just aren’t using it... yet. I suspect “yet” won’t last too much longer now, and that changes are afoot for a team that could honestly win the World Series this year as presently constituted. When they do, the relief will be palpable, and I’m fairly certain relief is on the way. Get those Duran Duran jokes in order now, is what I’m saying.