A month ago, in the post “Noise of Summer,” I commemorated the the first day on summer and congratulated the Red Sox on their first place position in the AL East. I highlighted some good news and identified some reasons why this could be a “false first,” or at least a fleeting one. Among these were the “Panda Problem,” the manager’s puzzling moves, a perceived leadership problem and a dismal performance among divisional rivals.
Where are we a month on? What do we know now? What do we still need to find out? Here we go…
- Dumbrowski dumped Sandoval, agreeing to eat as much salary as Sandoval had (left). This move coincided with Brock Holt’s return and Deven Marrero’s rebound. Does this mean a platoon at third? Is this a prudent, pennant-or-bust strategy? For now it’s a viable option.
- Don’t look now but Drew Pomeranz has become a (show) stopper. 14 of his 19 starts are quality starts and he leads all AL starters in outings with two or fewer runs with 15. For perspective, Clayton Kershaw leads MLB with 16.
- Hanley Ramírez is hot and he has stated to hit left-handed pitching as he promised he would. Hanley’s pop is leading the Sox offense, in fact over the last 30 games the Red Sox have more home runs (34) than the Yankees (31). He is crushing balls and–gulp–saying all the right things on his way to becoming a positive presence. Maturity? Mirage?
- If Ramírez is hot, Dustin Pedroia is en fuego. Since the All-Star Break, he is 14-for-34 (.412) with a .474 OBP, .647 slugging percentage, 2 HRs, 2 2Bs, 4 BB, 11 RBIs . He has 4 of his 6 HRs and 25+ RBI in July. He is hot, healthy and hungry. Can he carry this team and establish a pennant-winning personality for this talented but ever elusive bunch?
- From the “pump the brakes” pile, the Red Sox have been shut out 8 times. For perspective, the Yankees were shut out for the first time last week. What does this mean? Where does this leave them in a race for the division or in a short series? Similarly, while this is a nice run for the Red Sox, they are worlds away from the Astros, Nationals and Dodgers for MLB dominance.
- The Sale-Price-Pomeranz combo could be enough to win a Divisional Series. Can it win a pennant? Do they need a right hander in there? What about Porcello. Will the real Rick Porcello please stand up. Can they add a bullpen arm?
- The siren song of Cabreras (Miguel y Asdrúbal) and Machado is sweet, but Dumbrowski should probably turn a deaf ear. Can they be disciplined enough? Can he protect prospects, especially Rafael Devers? Does the delayed recovery of Swihart mean they have one less blue clip if a deal presented itself?
So here we are: it’s July 21st and the Red Sox are 2.5 games up on Tampa Bay heading into their last West Coast swing.
Stay tuned and check back in on August 21st.