By Joshua Nord-@nordjoshua
It’s the beginning of June, the sun is shining, schools are getting out and the Bruins and Celtics are eliminated from their respective playoffs. The Red Sox will now take center stage until the networks shove pre season football down our throats. For those just tuning into the season, you couldn’t pick a better time as the Red Sox, since cooling off from their fiery April still gave a dominant showing through May. They were the first team to reach thirty wins, and also have posted a better May record than their last two years. Things are looking up and we’ll break down the good, the bad and the ugly for the month below.
After mild difficulty throughout the month at the end of it all, the Red Sox still have sole possession of first place against the Yankees. Despite New York’s superhuman streak, it seems they have finally cooled off, which should mean going forward the battle for first place will be a true test of skill rather than just one team going hot or cold.
As for the players on an individual level this might become a whole article in itself. Jackie Bradley Jr. looks to be finally breaking out of his ice cold slump, and still strong defensively. Dustin Pedroia is back and for the first time this year it doesn’t feel like we have a black hole at second base. Mitch Moreland is still on fire offensively. Most of all, it looks like Mookie Betts is still showing the baseball world what he can do at only twenty five years old! Standing next to Mookie is J.D. Martinez, a guy who everyone believed was the poor man’s Giancarlo Stanton. A bum about to lay an egg on a large contract like the last two over thirty hitters the Sox signed. Right now, they are both sitting at a league leading seventeen home-runs. Both are hitting over .300. For all the problems fans believe the lineup has, these two alone turn the Red Sox into a true offensive threat which was largely absent in 2017.
For a quick bullpen snapshot the spotlight shines on new Boston legend Joe Kelly. Who seems finally at home with his role in the bullpen and has put together an amazing season so far with a 1.73 ERA, and coming up big in some tight spots over the month. Along with Kelly is the resurgence of Steven Wright coming back from his suspension. While the matter of his suspension will hang over him like a cloud his on the field, results so far have been great, providing the bullpen with an innings eater that’s also tough to score on.
There isn’t a lot of bad for a team with thirty nine wins in just two months of play. However a few key things stand out. David Price and his strange problems are the first things that come to mind. Getting carpal tunnel is one thing, but getting it from playing the video game Fortnite too much is a bad look for a Pitcher whose reputation is already in the dumpster in Boston. Even though he was able to quickly rebound from the injury and pitch very well, I even got to see his complete game live, he constantly puts a damper on himself and gives the media more ammunition to use against him. If I didn’t know any better I’d say he almost wants to be drowned in a sea of negativity he’s created for himself.
Of course this article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Hanley Ramirez. I found it hard to think about which category this subject should be placed, but ultimately decided this was as good as any. Getting free of the $22M vesting option was good. His performance that warranted getting DFA’d in the first place is definitely bad. It’s strange that his time in Boston came to such an abrupt end, but through all the years of his time here, I’d say his contract was a disappointment overall, regardless of his postseason stats or likability with the fans. A real shame, but is it any surprise when between 2008-2017 of the sixteen free agents that signed multi year deals with this team only have ever made it to the end? David Ross and Chris Young. Jeez.
If you want another wonderful stat, now that the book has been effectively shut on position player free agents from 2015 and before? Your Boston Red Sox owe around $35Million in dead money to Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Allen Craig. They’ve produced a combined -2.0 WAR for this team.
Looking back to pitching, Drew Pomeranz is quickly pitching himself out of the rotation. Losing much of the early season to rehabbing a mild flexor sprain in spring training. Only to return by laying an egg to the tune of a 6.75 ERA. That might be acceptable on the White Sox, or from a bonafide ace on the Orioles, but if he doesn’t change things around soon, Steven Wright will be sliding into his rotation spot.
Finally for the bullpen, Carson Smith has gone on the disabled list after pitching to a 3.77 ERA before that. This injury has the potential to be season ending. The problem with Smith, aside from this injury, is that he threw his manager Cora under the bus and proclaimed that fatigue brought about by overuse is what caused the injury. He had only eighteen appearances on the season, and was widely considered to be a bridge to Sox closer Kimbrel in the later innings. His injury is a blow, but him blaming Cora for the injury is an even bigger long-term problem.