The Boston Red Sox you knew back in October 2013 are no more. For that matter, the Sox of May 2014 are no more either. They are undergoing an extreme makeover. A face lift, if you will. For starters (pun intended), gone is Jon Lester and John Lachey. Jonny GomesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ beard left for Oakland. The Stephen Drew and Grady Sizemore Experiments are both over. But, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel sorry for the Red Sox. (You werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feeling sorry for Boston, were you?).
Me neither. They may not have a big power bat in their minor league system, but for now they have Yoenis Cespedes. They may not have any future #1 or #2 starters waiting in the wings down on the farm, but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got money. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll make a run at resigning Lester this winter. And even if thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a pipe dream, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll go out and get someone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s #1 or #2 starter because thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what they do. Gone are the days of the sad sack losers with the New England accents, always the red-headed stepchild of the boys in pinstripes. These are the New York Yankees with clam chowder and a more romantic ballpark. Bosox, Inc.
But for right now, they can be had. The Red Sox power numbers are down despite playing in a hitter-friendly park, even as they have David Ortiz and Mike Napoli pounding opposing pitchers. With the addition of Cespedes, their power numbers should rise somewhat, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not likely of offset the fact that they are 25th in the majors in batting average (Reds Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 23rd), 27th in Runs (Reds Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 26th) and 27th in Slugging (Reds Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 25th). The Reds pitchers need to keep Ortiz, Napoli and Cespedes away from the moondeck. This isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a team that looks to beat you by stringing hits together.
Oh yeah, the Sox got Allen Craig. Craig is having a horrible year. He hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fully recovered from the foot injury he sustained against the Reds late last year. I suspect the old Allen Craig will be back and make the Cardinals sorry they sold low on himÃ¢â‚¬â€but today, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the same player. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to have some added incentive tonight in GABP, though, so watch Craig closely over the next two days.
The Red Sox outfield has been a disaster all season. Jackie Bradley Jr., (.211/.281/.289) Shane Victorino (.268/.303/.382) hurt and the now-departed Gomes all had performed below league average and as Walt Jocketty will tell you if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll listen, finding replacements for players who were expected to carry an offense is next to impossible.
Two players to watch are youngsters Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, who I saw play in Pawtucket when watching Joey VottoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rehab start back in June. Bogaerts (only 21), burst onto the MLB scene during the Sox title run last year, but has struggled with his plate discipline this year (.230/.295/.349).
With Lester and Lachey gone, the Sox are rolling out a rotation of Clay Buchholz, who is a box of chocolates (you never know what youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get), old divisional foe Joe Kelly, Rubby De La Rosa (who has made 11 starts for the Sox), Brandon Workman and Allen Webster (who has made 3 starts).
The pen consists of Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop, Craig Breslow, Tommy Layne, with Koji Uehara closing. Uehara has a 1.32 ERA, a 0.77 WHIP, 25 Saves, with 2 Blown Saves over 54.2 IP.
This should be on the chalkboard in the Reds locker room tonight: Keep the Red Sox big boppers in the ballpark and keep the ex-Cardinals in check.