The Red Sox are 31-40, in last place in the AL East and 8.5 games out of first place. To say they have been a disappointment would be a major understatement. So what gives? What's been the problem(s) and what should the Red Sox do going forwards?
Let's start with the pitching - a staff whose ERA of 4.46 is dead last in the American League. First there's the Rick Porcello in theory and the Rick Porcello in reality. I admit that I too was high on Porcello who has shown flashes of what he was last season. If Porcello was 7-4 with an ERA around 4.00 instead of 4-8 with an ERA of 5.61 then Boston would still be in last in the AL East but only 5 games out of first and talk radio would be hammering about a trade for Cole Hamels. Instead Boston has tied their wagon to a guy whose career ERA+ is not even league average (95). Sadly at this point Red Sox fans can only cross our fingers and hope for the best.
Justin Masterson has been a mess. The Red Sox gave him 7 starts and he gave them a 6.37 ERA in return. Those 7 starts should have gone to Steven Wright and now that Eduardo Rodriguez has taken Masterson's rotation spot for good - when Masterson comes back from his "rehab" in Pawtucket he may force Wright out of the bullpen as the long-relief guy. Wright can't buy a break. I'd prefer for Boston to just admit that the Justin Masterson reclamation project was a mistake and move on.
Then there's the case for Brian Johnson who has been pitching even better than Eduardo Rodriguez in Pawtucket and is 2-years older. Is it wrong to hope that either Porcello or Joe Kelly develops "fatigue" and has to be put on the DL so we can see what Johnson has to offer at the MLB level? Or here's an idea - with the Red Sox out of it why not trade Koji Uehara and see if Kelly can close?
Then there's the position players and hitting where there's been basically 3 sore spots for Boston - catcher, 1st base and right field. Not much you can do about catching. Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hannigan sounded like a great defensive combo before the season but injury ruined that. Now we'll see what Blake Swihart (who has been heating up at the plate) and Hannigan (once he's healthy) can do for the rest of the season.
1st base? Mike Napoli has been hitting well below his career averages but what's the alternative at this point? Allen Craig? Sure Craig has been hitting at Pawtucket but does anyone think if things had been reversed that Napoli wouldn't be raking on AAA-pitching? Best to leave 1st as is and hope Napoli gets on another hot streak that brings his numbers back to where they should be.
That leaves right field where the answer is simple - bring back Jackie Bradley Jr.
And for those of us optimists out there - the Red Sox magic number is an even 100!