The Boston Red Sox had one of the priciest offseasons in Major League Baseball, spending $US245 million to bolster their team.
They made two premier signings, giving Pablo Sandoval a $US95 million deal and Hanley Ramirez an $US88 million deal, while extending reliever Koji Uehara for $US18 million, and giving unknown Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada a $US31.5 million signing bonus.
Expectations weren’t sky-high for the Red Sox, but ESPN’s David Schoenfield had them winning the AL East, with two others predicting them to win the AL Wild Card. Additionally, in Grantland’s MLB preview, three writers had Boston winning the division, with two others predicting them to win the Wild Card.
Now, two months into the season, the Red Sox are 22-29, last in the AL East, second-to-last in the entire AL.
Boston’s offence has been a big disappointment despite the money they committed to it this offseason. According to FanGraphs, the Red Sox are 23rd in batting average, 22nd in OPS, and 21st oBA, which weighs possible batting outcomes like walks, hits, home runs, etc. to determine how a batter performed. They also have a -48 run differential, worst in the AL.
The $US183 million the Red Sox designated to Sandoval and Ramirez hasn’t been particularly well spent on the offensive end. They’re batting .251 and .261, respectively, with 17 combined home runs. As ESPN’s Gordon Edes notes, the Red Sox’s offence dried up in May, with Ramirez going the first 24 days without an RBI while Sandoval had just four extra-base hits in the month.
Rusney Castillo, a $US72-million free agent signed late last season, has been unremarkable in his first days in the majors this season. He’s batting just .233 with a .255 OBP in 30 at-bats this season.
The Red Sox’s pitching has been a problem as well. Four pitches have 10 starts, and Clay Buchholz has the best ERA of any of them at 4.33. Rick Porcello, who leads the team with 62 innings pitched, has an ERA of 5.37. Collectively, Boston has the fourth-worst ERA in MLB and has given up the sixth-most hits in the league.
On Sunday, the Red Sox’s problems all converged into one in a brutal loss to the Texas Rangers, just one day after Red Sox manager John Farrell held a private meeting with five veteran players. Farrell said afterward, “It was an opportunity to meet with our veteran group, to reemphasize the importance of the role that they provide to the younger players and how they go about and execute inside the game.”
As Edes points out, however, Boston is still in good position to make the playoffs, which speaks more to how bad the AL East is. They enter June only four games out of first place, despite being seven games under. 500. They recently called up pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who in his first start allowed three hits with zero runs in seven innings. Boston could also hope that some of their biggest-name players could return to their normal standards while looking at different prospects for call-ups.
Anything can happen in the playoffs, which are still a realistic goal for the Red Sox. However, through the first two months, the signs for the Red Sox haven’t been all that encouraging.
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