To start, lets flashback to the 2014 season. A horrendous season which followed the “lightning in a bottle” type season in 2013 when the Red Sox won the World Series (sigh). Ever since that World Series victory, many things have changed. The main thing that has changed from 2013 to 2015 is the teams record. The ’14 Red Sox were 38-45 as of July 1st last year. This year, the team continues to struggle with a 36-44 overall record, good for last in the A.L. East. As of late, the Red Sox have began to pick up their game, winning 5 of 8 against division rivals, moving them to 7 GB of 1st, somehow. But now that July is here, so is the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline in the MLB (July 31st). As frustrating as the Red Sox are to watch, they are only 7 GB in the A.L. East. Is it time to give up on this season and build for next year, or try to improve on this year by adding players by the deadline to try and make a push for the playoffs?
Well, if you asked me about three weeks ago, I’d say this is a loss cause.
As of 2:07 PM on Saturday June 13, I Conner Grant have officially given up all hope on the 2015 Boston Red Sox. I hope I’m wrong.
— Conner Grant (@ConnerGrant5) June 13, 2015
But, as of late, the Boston Red Sox have started to show signs of turning this ship around. Let me give you a look at this season and what this team needs. Alright, the Red Sox did get off to a rough start. The ace-less starting pitching was a mess, and when there was a rare good outing, the lineup would falter. It was frustrating to watch, which led me to angrily tweet what I did, and I don’t regret it. Although, as of late, there has been signs of life. Beginning with the starting pitching, Weird haircut Clay Buchholz has been on fire since, well, he got his ridiculous haircut.
Since he became Weird Haircut Clay on May 10, Buchholz has an ERA of 2.33, sixth best in the American League.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) June 30, 2015
Clay even made it through the month of June without missing a start, something uncommon for a fragile person like himself. As for the rest of the rotation, the emergence of Eduardo Rodriguez, resurgence of the adequate Wade Miley, and spot starts from knuckleballer Steven Wright as Joe Kelly continues to figure himself out in the minor leagues. If the 0-7 in the last 8 starts Rick Porcello can take some time on the DL and have a “shoulder injury,” the rotation doesn’t look half bad. Even Justin Masterson can do some work from the bullpen now that he is off the DL.
Even though Buchholz is pitching well, you can’t rely on him to last through the year or lead the staff. He’s just not that type of guy. That’s why, I agree with others that are purposing if you are going to go for a spot in the playoffs, you need to add pitching, since many of the defensive positions are locked in place with young prospects or high paying, unmovable contracts. You need a pitcher that you are going to feel confident about when they take the hill, someone you can lean on to get a big W when you need it. Yes I’m describing Jon Lester, I get it.
Since Lester is lost to the Cubs and the dreaded Theo Epstein, his successor Ben Cherrington will have to look elsewhere. One name that has been prevalently associated with the Red Sox is Cole Hamels. Hamels, who is already 31, goes against everything the Red Sox claim their mentality is. He is above the age of 30, like Lester, and would require the Sox to give up key prospects like Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart to acquire. Something the team does not intend on doing. Though, going against the system is something ownership is known to do as of late with Sandoval and Ramirez.
So, if not Hamels, then who? Well, there isn’t many options now, but names continue to be brought up as the trade deadline draws closer. As of now, Red’s Starting Pitcher Johnny Cueto and A’s Scott Kazmir are names that have been rumored to be available. Both decent starters, but aren’t top of the line guys that can push the Sox to the next level. They could push Porcello out of the rotation, which could be addition by subtraction at this point. Basically, adding a starting pitcher that can lead the staff to the next level would completely change this team, but finding that guy will be a struggle.
I think if you are going to try and make a playoff push, addressing the flawed pitching staff is what should be focused on. Since a small market of teams are actually willing to give up decent starting pitching, it’ll be hard for the team to acquire one. If I’m Ben Cherrington, I try and push for a solid starter to lead the staff, or a young pitcher that can develop into one of those guys. Since these trades are rare, I’d say it might be okay to make some minor deals to make this season not as bad, but save the rebuilding for the offseason when the team can return to smartly spending money on youthful free agents that fit the Red Sox system. A.K.A, not signing players like Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.
Don’t get me wrong, it is possible for this team to turn the ship around as they aren’t even halfway through the season, but the team in place currently can’t make a playoff run. The lack of talent heading to the hill day in and day out (other then Buchholz and Uehara), the inconsistency at the plate, and Hanley Ramirez’s defensive skills in left field, leaves the 2015 Red Sox team as a work in progress – to put it nicely.
So, what do you think?