Category Archives: Nathan Farrell

Red Sox Report: First Half Struggles Have Sox In Unfamiliar Position

Last season at this time the Red Sox were 19 games over .500 and heading into the All Star break with a division lead. Fast forward to this year and the Sox are on the opposite end of the spectrum with not many highlights this season. The offense has been a major problem, not coming up with key hits with runners in scoring position, which last year’s team did so well time and time again.

Jon Lester Boston Sports Then & Now

Jon Lester could command a hefty contract if he reaches free agency.

The topic at the forefront of Sox right now is Jon Lester and will the team extend him in season? Lester, has had arguable is best season with the Sox this year, a season in which is ERA is under 3.00 for the first time at 2.65. Max Scherzer last offseason turned down a deal for 6 years and $144 million, Lester will be pitching tonight in the All Star game figuring to get in the second inning, Scherzer is also on the American League roster. Cole Hamels is comparable to Lester as they are both lefties, and both have lead their respective teams to World Series titles. Hamels signed an extension with the Phillies two years ago with the exact figures Scherzer got offered. If Jon Lester’s starting point in negotiations is that figure who could blame him?

Lester has long said he would love to stay in Boston, but the longer the Red Sox the wait to make him an adequate offer, the closer he gets to free agency. Teams need pitching and free agent pitchers like Lester rarely hit the open market. Would Lester walk to the first team that threw big money at him, or would he come back to the Sox giving them a chance to match? Ben Cherington has a job to do by the end of this season and that is to make sure Lester does not reach free agency.

Clay Buchholz has looked strong since his return for the disabled list. This past Sunday he pitched a complete game shutout against the Astros in Houston, allowing only three hits. Buchholz, can hardly be counted on when it comes to the top of the rotation, as every year he seems to be really on at points, and really off at others. The Sox would like to see some consistency from him in the second half of this season, and hope to build off that into next season. If Lester does not return Buchhloz or John Lackey would be elevated to the number one starter, which I feel neither are at that level this point in their respective careers.

If the Sox want to get back in contention this season, it should be by letting their young players lead the charge. 9.5 games behind the first place Orioles seems like a stretch at this point in the season with this offense, they are 8 games back for the second wild card which Seattle would claim if the season ended today. No one in the division has really jumped out and taken charge while each team has been hit by the injury bug. Most recently the Blue Jays saw home run leader Edwin Encarnacion go down with a quad injury and the Yankees only consistent starter, Masahiro Tanaka came down with the ever popular elbow soreness.

A.J. Pierzynski's stint with the Red Sox was short and unsuccessful.

A.J. Pierzynski’s stint with the Red Sox was short and unsuccessful.

Last week the Sox cut off one of their veterans in A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski was designated for assignment and thrown under the bus upon his exit. He was only a one year stop gap player, but he seemed to wear out his welcome, while not having a good command of the pitching staff and swinging at too many first pitches. The next veteran figuring to be on his way out could be pitcher Jake Peavy who has been involved in trade rumors with both the Cardinals and Braves. Peavy, who is only three years older than Lester is also a free agent at the end of the season, and his spot in the rotation could easily be filled by Brandon Workman.

Will the Red Sox sell off any of their other veterans who figure not to be a part of next year’s team? Only time will tell. The trade deadline is only two weeks from Thursday and thinking two weeks of good play against the Royals, Blue Jays and Rays can turn things around and make them buyers is way too naïve. Teams have come back from large division deficits at the All Star break before, but this Red Sox team has not proven they canscore runs on a consistent basis all season. The Sox are 25th in runs scored, 26th in home runs, and 22nd in batting average as a team. When was the last time the Red Sox offense was this bad? Not many can remember.

The Sox are not mathematically eliminated, but they do have the 3rd worst record in the American League. Ben Cherington has not given a definitive answer on whether the team will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, but it would be irresponsible trading high potential prospects for veterans, in hopes of just making noise in the postseason race. It is time to start focusing on 2015, and hopefully that is with Jon Lester still anchoring the staff.

Red Sox Report: West Coast Struggle, Further Buries Sox

Red Sox Continue West Coast Struggles

The West Coast trips that the Red Sox used to enjoy in June and July the past few years are something of the past. Losers of five of six on the trip so far, the Sox send Clay Buchholz to the mound tonight in Seattle and he will be making his first start off the disabled list. Buchholz was said to have a hyperextended knee, but most feel it was all just in his head and his confidence was down so the team shut him down. He had two rehab starts in AAA Pawtucket which both went well, so the team has to hope he picks up in Seattle.

Clay Buchholz Red Sox

Clay Buchholz returns to the mound tonight in Seattle.

The rotation is now in a state of flux with Buchholz returning. Last night Jake Peavy did not help his case to stick in the rotation surrendering seven runs to the Seattle offense. Brandon Workman will start Friday in New York after serving his six game suspension. Rubby De La Rosa, has looked great in his starts, finally showing that he was the prize of the salary dump deal with the Dodgers in the summer of 2012. Felix Doubront’s return to the rotation last week in Oakland did not go well, as he could not get out of the fifth inning. The right choice right now is letting Workman and De La Rosa continue to take a regular turn in the rotation, but with Buchholz, Peavy and Doubront on the roster, that likely will be tough. Doubront did come out of the bullpen in mop up duty last night for two innings, so his turn in the rotation might be in question as well.

The Red Sox have the third worst record in the American League, is it time to focus on 2015? Today the Sox designated Chris Capuano for assignment, which could fuel a series of moves, riding themselves of veteran contracts in hopes of adding to a full farm system. Trading away prospects at this point, would be a true waste, too many teams are in contention to trade away a valuable bat that the Sox need in the middle of the lineup. Veterans to likely be gone by July 31st are A.J. Pierzynski, Jonny Gomes, and Jake Peavy. All three are free agents at the end of the season and will likely not be back with the team next year.

Koji Uehara and Stephen Drew also could also be dealt, Uehara is an interesting case, whether the team wants to chance resigning him in the offseason and seeing if he can be lights out again at age 40 remains to be seen. Stephen Drew has not been what the Red Sox hoped since the mid season signing. Drew, likely came back too soon and was nursing a sore quad for a few days after his debut. Also, moving Xander Bogaerts to third base has proved to be the wrong decision, as his offense has dipped. Some might say the two do not correlate but the writing is on the wall.

Xander Bogaerts Red Sox

Xander Bogaerts production has fallen since the signing of Stephen Drew.

Not saying it is over for these Red Sox, but this year’s team is not the team of 2013. The offense is not getting timely hits, the starting pitching is too inconsistent, and the moves Ben Cherington made did not turn into gold. Not every move a general manager makes is gold like his off season of 2012, but not finding another outfield bat is largely Cherington’s fault. Expecting Jackie Bradley Jr. to provide the same production as Jacoby Ellsbury was not happening. Daniel Nava over performed last season so a drop off had to be expected. And Shane Victorino was hurt most of the last season, so they had to expect the same for this year. The Red Sox do not return home until next Monday against the Cubs, the team will look the same as it left, but with many more questions marks on who is staying and who is going.

Red Sox Report: After Winning 3 in a Row, Sox Still Have Work To Do

After the Red Sox lost ten games in a row, a winning streak was in order right? Well tonight the Sox have a chance to sweep a home and home interleague series with the Atlanta Braves. Losing ten games in a row has to deflate a team and the Sunday afternoon happenings in Tampa Bay seemed to be an example. The benches cleared after Yunel Escobar stole third base up 5 runs in the 7th inning. Escobar began yelling into the Red Sox dugout, even taking off his helmet and walking towards the dugout. Jonny Gomes came in from left field and shoved Escobar, both were ejected. The Red Sox needed something to take their losing streak out on; maybe Escobar stealing third sparked the team.

Clay Buchholz might be missing an extended period of time.

Clay Buchholz might be missing an extended period of time.

Monday’s afternoon game in Atlanta, Clay Buchholz had no command of the strike zone. He walked 8 in just 3 innings of work and rumors began to swirl that he was injured during the game. Manager John Farrell even went as far to say that Buchholz lost seven pounds during the start. Yesterday afternoon Buchholz was played on the disabled list with a hyperextended knee. If Red Sox fans know Buchholz expect him to miss more than 15 days, as every June Buchholz seems to spend an extended time on the disabled list. The team might do better without him as he has a 7.02 ERA. The offense came back from a five run deficit, behind David Ortiz’s 4 RBI and went onto win the game 8-6.

Tuesday’s game was something Jon Lester did not enjoy on the mound, but ended up coming out on top. Lester was seen barking at the home plate umpire on multiple occasions yet not getting tossed or even reprimanded. Lester, who has had many problems with home plate umpires strike zones, fought through a strike zone to which he thought he was getting squeezed and the Sox prevailed yet again 6-3. Jackie Bradley Jr. had a huge two run single in the top of the 7th that put the Sox up by 3. Bradley had been really struggling at the plate as of late, so him contributing in a big spot will do wonders for his confidence.

Manny Ramirez emerged again from the Green Monster prior to last night's game.

Manny Ramirez emerged again from the Green Monster prior to last night’s game.

Before last night’s game the Sox welcomed back the 2004 World Series team for a 10 year reunion and all the familiar faces were there. Pedro, Varitek, Wakefield, Damon, even Manny Ramirez made the return to Fenway. The current day team won yet again behind great pitching from John Lackey who went 6 and 1/3 shutout innings striking out 9. Young players Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley lead the offense with 3 and 2 hits respectively. Bogaerts has really come on offensively of late and is now batting in the two hole ahead of Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. The Sox need those three to carry the lineup Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli are out.

Last night was the first time the Sox won three in a row all year. They were the last team to accomplish that feat. They jumped over the Rays into fourth place in the division but they still have a lot of work to do. Losing ten games in a row puts you in a real rut. They are still 6 games under .500 which seems like they just do not want to go over this year. The Blue Jays lead the division and are ten games over .500, 8 games up on the Sox. If the Sox want to really catch up quickly they will need to avenge last weekend’s sweep in Tampa and return the favor at Fenway starting tomorrow night. Three in a row is nice, but this team still has a long way to go.

Red Sox Report: Amdist Skid, Is It Time To Push The Panic Button?

The Red Sox are not playing good baseball right now. There is no other way to put it. Yesterday put an exclamation point on a team that has now lost 7 games in a row and was just swept in two series at home. The Sox were down 2-0 just 10 pitches into the game after left gave up back to back solo homeruns to Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista. The Sox got one back in the bottom of the first, but then Lester gave up 5 more runs in the top of the second. The first two innings for Sox starters this season have been a real problem. The offense is left coming back from 4 and 5 run deficits early in the game.

Jon Lester surrendered seven runs in yesterday's start against the Blue Jays.

Jon Lester surrendered seven runs in yesterday’s start against the Blue Jays.

The lineup has been somewhat in a state of flux all season. Shane Victorino missed much of the first month leaving the Sox trying to get creative at the top of the order besides Dustin Pedroia. Will Middlebrooks has been in and out of the lineup with already two DL trips under his belt. This year was supposed to be Middlebrooks make or break season, his third in the big leagues, and so far he has struggled. The Sox even brought back Stephen Drew which Brendan posted about this afternoon. Yesterday’s lineup had A.J. Pierzynski hitting fifth. Pierzynski would not hit fifth on the Minnesota Twins, why is he hitting fifth on the Boston Red Sox? It is obvious the Sox need another bat in this lineup.

The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury has been huge for the Sox yet no one is talking about it. The money he got was crazy but they could have done better to find an ample replacement especially a replacement in the leadoff spot. Center field has not been the best position for the Sox this season. Jackie Bradley Jr., is hovering around the Mendoza line hitting just .201. Grady Sizemore, who had not played a game in over two years, was brought in and has been all over the place in the lineup and on the field maybe he just cannot find his role. The Sox are sticking with Bradley believing he will play out of his funk at the plate but he is leaving runners on base seemingly in every at bat. His defense has been stellar but is that enough?

Xander Bogaerts needs to start hitting towards to the top of the lineup. He has been the Sox hottest hitter, hitting sixth and seventh in the lineup. It is understandable that Farrell wants to lengthen the lineup but why is he not hitting second? Last season Pedroia hit third for much of the year with Ortiz and Napoli behind him. Would a lineup starting with Victorino, Bogaerts, Pedroia, Ortiz, and Napoli solve the offense’s problem with scoring runs? Well it is worth a shot.

John Lackey looks to stop the losing steak tonight against Tampa Bay.

John Lackey looks to stop the losing steak tonight against Tampa Bay.

The panic button has not been pressed yet but this weekend series with Tampa Bay could push it over the edge. Tampa Bay has struggled all season with pitching problems. The Sox are only one game ahead of the Rays in the AL East and a Sox loss would pull them even for last place. John Lackey will be on the mound tonight trying to stop the losing streak opposite Chris Archer. If the Sox have a good weekend in Tampa they should start to climb up the standings as no one has stepped out in the division, but a bad weekend and they will likely continue to trend downward.

Red Sox Report: Sox Still Have Not Yet Won Three In a Row

So far the first six weeks of the 2014 Red Sox have been much of the same. The Sox starting pitching does not perform well in the early innings and the offense is left to try and come back throughout the game. The same occurred last night in Minnesota as the Sox were looking to win three consecutive games in a row for the first time all season, and failed to do so. John Farrell decided to switch Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront in the rotation setting up the Sox three “best” starters to face the Tigers in an ALCS rematch at Fenway this weekend.

Jake Peavy did not get out of the fifth inning on Tuesday night.

Jake Peavy did not get out of the fifth inning on Tuesday night.

Peavy only got through 4 and 1/3 innings on Tuesday night giving up 9 hits and 6 earned runs. The combination of Chris Capuano, Craig Breslow, and Junichi Tazawa went 3 and 2/3 combined of shutout ball to allow the Sox offense to tie the game, which they did in the top of the 7th highlighted by a Jonny Gomes pinch hit bases loaded walk. Andrew Miller was brought in for the bottom of the 9th and got two quick strikeouts before giving up a single to Kurt Suzuki and had a matchup in his favor against the left handed hitting Chris Parmelee. Parmelee took Miller deep to right field for a walk off win. The Twins sent the Sox back to .500 once again.

The offense has been coming around of late with a full lineup after the return of Shane Victorino. Victorino had three hits last night and scored two runs. David Ortiz led the way with 4 hits including 2 home runs against his former team. Dustin Pedroia seems to be the permanent leadoff hitter and has his average up to close to .300. Mike Napoli has a much better approach at the plate this season and has been working counts and striking out a lot less. Since the return of Victorino, Jackie Bradley has been the center fielder almost every day with Grady Sizemore and Jonny Gomes splitting time in left field. Bradley’s bat has been hot and cold, but he certainly struggles against left handed pitchers and the inside pitch. His defense is really what keeps him in the lineup and the Red Sox believe he is learning while being an everyday player.

Shane Victorino and David Ortiz have got the offense on track as of late.

Shane Victorino and David Ortiz have got the offense on track as of late.

While the Sox have still yet to get on a roll, neither has any other team in the American League East. The Orioles are the only team over .500 with a record of 20-17. The Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays are all at .500 as of today with the Rays just behind at 17-23. The division likely will be a lot like this all season long unless one team pulls away. Obviously the Rays will be much better once they get their pitchers back. The Blue Jays have the talent but will likely fade like last season. The Yankees are suffering through the same problems as last season, being old and injured. Baltimore has young pitching and will likely have the offense to stay in most games lead by Adam Jones.

The Sox have a tough schedule on the back half of May after this series in Minnesota, they travel home for 3 with Detroit, 3 with Toronto, 3 at Tampa Bay, a home and home with Atlanta and 3 more with Tampa Bay. Nine divisional games could prove to be big as they hope to climb over .500 and stay there. What they really need is the offense and pitching to click on the same night. It is nice when your offense gets 11 hits but you should be winning those games. Felix Doubront takes the ball tonight trying to get the Sox back over .500 yet again, flip over after the Bruins game.

Red Sox Report: Will This Be Jon Lester’s Last Year With The Sox?

The Red Sox had Thursday night off and let the Bruins and Patriots take the headlines. The Bruins had a thrilling overtime 1-0 victory over the Canadiens and knotted up the series at 2 games apiece with Game 5 in Boston Saturday night. The Patriots actually kept their draft pick and spent it on Dominique Easley a defensive end out of Florida. The Sox start a six game road trip in Texas tonight with Clay Buchholz on the mound opposite Yu Darvish.

Will Middlebrooks got a bases loaded single to give the Sox the lead on Wednesday.

Will Middlebrooks got a bases loaded single to give the Sox the lead on Wednesday.

With the Red Sox finally reaching .500 on Wednesday after a two game sweep of the Reds, the focus over this six game road trip in Texas and Minnesota should be to stay over .500. The Sox were 0-8 in games attempting to reach .500 until Wednesday night where Will Middlebrooks got a big bases loaded hit in the bottom of the eighth to give the Sox the lead. Koji Uehara slammed the door in the ninth for the save.

Jon Lester will take the mound on Saturday after his best outing of the year last Saturday against the A’s. He struck out a career high 15 while giving up only 1 hit, in his third win of the season. Now fans have to wonder if this will be Lester’s last in a Sox uniform as there have been no rumblings of even talks between the two sides, this being his last year under contract. Last month we heard a laughable offer for Lester which some media members called an insult. There is no question Lester is the ace of this staff and has been for quite some time. 2012 is behind him and Josh Beckett is not on this team to influence him.

Jon Lester would command a large sum on the open market.

Jon Lester would command a large sum on the open market.

On the open market Lester could command a ton of money. The Yankees brought in Tanaka who never threw a pitch in the big leagues for seven years $155 million. Tanaka however is only 25 while Lester will be 31 at the start of next season. A seven year contract for Lester would be something not many would support. But what about a 4 year deal with options? The Rays seem to have put options at the end of every contract extension they sign with their players. David Ortiz just signed an extension with the Sox that could keep him in a Sox uniform through 2017 if he performs well enough. Cole Hamels of the Phillies, also a lefty and a year young than Lester, signed a six year $144 million deal with the Phillies two years ago, and likely Lester will use that as a benchmark.

The Sox have pitching coming up that is something to brag about, but they are still just prospects, not everyone will turn into a top of the rotation starter. The easiest way to have a top of the rotation starter for years to come is to lock of Lester long term. This guy wins in October, and if it wasn’t for David Ortiz would have been the World Series MVP. He has pitched over 200 innings in five out of the last six years and was at 191 the only year he did not reach 200 innings. The Sox need Jon Lester on this team for years to come.

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