It is not necessarily unknown but I think it bears noting that the Sox are playing well of late. The club slipped to 10-13 while “embarrassing” themselves on April 24. The next day the Sox got Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino back and have gone 9-5 since.
It is difficult to get a read on this team. There are days where I look at the way they are playing, the personnel in house and think they are going to repeat 2012. Other days I look at all of the above and think they are ready to get on a roll. Rather than trying to go to crazy about things I thought I would spend a few minutes breaking some of the season’s work into components;
What’s Right That Will Continue To Be Right
Jon Lester has been very good. Maybe he will not continue to be 154 ERA+ good but there is no reason to think a return to 2012 is in order. Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz remain the big bats in the lineup and after some early struggles A.J. Pierzynski has been the player we expected.
The bullpen has had some fits and starts but it feels like things are resolving themselves out there. Koji Uehara is still aweome if perhaps a slightly less awesome version than last year’s version. Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop have moved to the fore and Junichi Tazawa is still dependable. The minor leagues continue to be a fertile ground for the Sox to either use for reinforcements or trade for the same.
What’s Wrong That Will Continue To Be Wrong
It is kind of hard when you watch him to think that Edward Mujica is going to turn this around anytime soon. More troubling is that Felix Doubront is looking like a pitcher who is just never going to be more than the occasionally brilliant, usually frustrating mediocrity he was a year ago. As MCoA noted yesterday the guys who would be likely to contribute from the minors have not particularly distinguished themselves making the rotation an area to be concerned about. Daniel Nava is looking like he used all his fairy dust last year.
What’s Wrong That Will Eventually Go Right
Xander Bogaerts specifically will eventually start hitting for power and that should help the 2013 league leaders in slugging to improve on their current 11th place stature. The back end of the rotation will improve simply because if Doubront and Clay Buchholz keep pitching like this the Sox will do something to straighten it out and Shane Victorino‘s return will make right field a more productive position (this has already started obviously). If Mike Carp has to pitch again I am optimistic that he can cut his walk rate from 45.0/9IP.
What’s Right That Will Eventually Go Wrong
Not a whole heck of a lot.
It is that last one that jumped out at me as I looked at where the Sox are today. Last year the Sox did not really get a lot of career years from people (maybe Nava). What they did get was a bunch of 60th to 70th percentile kind of years from people.
This year’s club seems to be suffering some of the hangover from that. Clay Buchholz is the most obvious puzzler right now. Doobs is a guy the Sox can simply punt to the bullpen but if Buchholz stinks what do they do? At some point they have to put him through a battery of tests and see what is up because he is pitching like an injured pitcher (see John Lackey – 2011).
Every time I look at the Sox in any detail I come away feeling like staying the course is the way to go. I am not saying they should not be active at the trade deadline (Giancarlo Stanton would help the slugging percentage a tad) but they need not panic.
There are flaws on this team but there is nothing illusory in the positives. That leaves the Sox in the enviable position to sit back and let the 162 game marathon play to their advantages.