It is the middle of May and the Boston Red Sox find themselves in a pickle. While the ball club has been playing better of late, it nonetheless finds itself in last place in a competitive American League East race.
At 18-21 and 7.5 games behind a resurgent Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox can ill afford to waste much more time in righting its ship.
Statistically speaking, Boston’s struggles are evident.
While pitching has improved of late, it is nonetheless the Red Sox Achilles' heel. The Red Sox own a team ERA (4.68). Only the Colorado Rockies (4.94) and Minnesota Twins (5.20) have been worse to this point.
Boston is also 25th in the league in team WHIP (1.41). Categories a pitching staff does not want to be in, Boston is third in the league in earned runs given up (198), fifth in hits (362) sixth in home runs (43) and seventh in walks (140).
Opposing teams are batting an astounding .264 against the Red Sox. This is 26th worst in the league.
Fortunately for Boston, hitting and defense have held the fort for this challenged pitching staff, to put it diplomatically.
Offensively, Boston’s team is batting .272. Only the Texas Rangers (.291) and the St. Louis Cardinals (.281) boast a better team batting average in the league. Boston is fourth in the league in team OPS (.790) and eighth in OBP (.334). The Red Sox have also has shown excellent power as a club. They are fifth in the league in home runs (53), third in RBI (246), third in slugging percent (.456)
Defensively, Boston has also been outstanding. With a .989 fielding percentage, the Red Sox are the best in the business. The team has just 16 errors so far this season. This is good for a share of first place in the league with the Seattle Mariners for the lowest total.
So what do the Red Sox do to turn the table in a black and blue AL East?
Do Ben Cherington and Co. continue to exude patience with its pitching staff? After all, it is not as if the Red Sox have a terrible starting rotation. Perhaps it is only a short matter of time before Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz start stringing wins together. And while Daniel Bard has struggled, Felix Doubront has rattled off three wins in a row to go to 4-1 on the season.
If Boston’s starting corps does not improve, does Boston enter the Cole Hamels sweepstakes? Of course should Boston go this route, they would have to give up major prospects in return. Yet at the same time, trading for Hamels would give Boston a much-needed boost.
With full understanding Boston needs desperate help in the bullpen, does the team trade Kevin Youkilis to receive some much-needed relief? It is apparent Bobby Valentine and Youkilis do not get along, and it does not appear Valentine is going anywhere anytime soon. That is, unless Boston keeps losing games.
Or does Boston just need a spark to get them going in the right direction?
With full understanding Boston has been effective defensively, the Red Sox have a spectacular shortstop in Jose Iglesias at Triple-A Pawtucket. This 22-year-old has the ability to blow the roof with the unimaginable plays he makes.
And if the past month has been any indication, Iglesias’ bat is big-league ready. He has raised his batting average nearly 100 points since late April.
On the season, Iglesias is batting a respectable .283. During the past four games, Iglesias has scorched opposing pitching. In this stretch he is hitting .500 (10-for-20). Iglesias has seven multi-hit performances the last 12 games.
With that said, it just seems the Red Sox need a much-needed shot in the arm to take things to the next level. The team is a few clever front office moves from acquiring the tools to achieve this end.
Iglesias has the potential to electrify Red Sox Nation with his presence in the lineup. As we have seen in other sports, fans appreciate defense. This is because fans know that most times, a great defensive play can spark a team to unstoppable positive momentum.
The Nationals found courage to call up Bryce Harper. The LA Angels have done the similar thing by bringing Mike Trout to the show. Like Buster Posey in 2010, both players have sparked their teams when they needed it most.
I just do not see why Jose Iglesias cannot do the same for the Red Sox.
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