Everyone loves a good report card. I promise you don’t have to get this one signed by your parents, but check out my grades for the 2012 Boston Red Sox at the All-Star break…….
Ryan Lavarnway: Incomplete — Lavarnway has spent the entire season in Pawtucket so far but he’s doing pretty well for himself, hitting .310 with 7 HRs and 37 RBI. Lavarnway has incredible talent and at age 24 he’s getting his reps down in AAA. He will be a solid September call-up as long as the Sox can find a way to get/stay in contention for the playoffs.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: A (.235, 17 HR, 41 RBI) — Salty is having a fantastic season for the Red Sox. His 17 homeruns are the most of any catcher in baseball and he’s tied for 8th in RBIs at the position. Salty went into a bit of a slump during this past weekend’s series against the Yankees, but he’s one player the Sox shouldn’t worry too much about as the break comes at a perfect time to get him out of that slide.
Kelly Shoppach: A (.269, 4 HR, 12 RBI) — Even playing a limited role as the Sox backup catcher, Shoppach is producing at the plate. The Sox have the most production of any team from behind the plate and Shoppach’s season is a big reason for that. Should Salty go down, God forbid, the Sox would feel comfortable with Shoppach and Lavarnway though they would lose some power from the lineup. Shoppach is already an upgrade over Jason Varitek, so can’t complain about that.
Mike Aviles: A- (.260, 9 HR, 44 RBI) — Aviles is having one of the better years of his career, and while is average is a bit lower than his career average (.282) his power and RBI numbers are as high as they’ve ever been. His career high for HRs is 10 and RBIs is 51, so this season he should set blow both those statistics out of the water.
Pedro Ciriaco: Incomplete — Ciriaco is one player that I thought had a chance to make the team out of spring training. While in Pawtucket this year he was top 10 in batting average (.301) and he had a grand entrance to the American League with his unreal weekend against the Yankees. This kid will make a case to stay in the lineup, and SS is his best chance for the future but it will be tough with the way Aviles has been getting the job done so far.
Mauro Gomez: Incomplete — Gomez is a first baseman who the Sox learned the hard way that he’s not ready to play the hot corner. In his brief 7 game start in Boston, Gomez is hitting .364 with 3 RBIs. He was doing work in Pawtucket too as he’s second in the International League in hitting (.311) with 19 HRs and 55 RBIs. I need to see this guy play more before I pass any judgment on him, but I’ll tell you it’s pretty darn tough to make the Sox as a first baseman.
Adrian Gonzalez: C (.283, 6 HR, 45 RBI) — Gonzo is a player that the Sox need more production from in the second half of the season. He hit 27 HRs last season (with most of them coming before he participated in the HR Derby) and he hasn’t been the same player since. Besides the lack of power, Gonzo just hasn’t been on base enough this year, with only 23 walks in 86 games, so he needs to be more selective at the plate and work deeper into counts. He also has as many homeruns at Fenway Park this season as Andruw Jones had last weekend (4) at the park, so that’s something that needs to change in a hurry.
Jose Iglesias: Incomplete — Iglesias is probably the top Sox prospect at SS, though he hasn’t made it up to the big club yet this season. He’s only hitting .264 at Pawtucket with 15 RBIs but he is known as a more defensive player anyway. Look for him to come up in September if he is healthy.
Brent Lillibridge: Incomplete — Lillibridge was acquired in the trade of Kevin Youkilis and he hasn’t done anything in Boston yet. Now, I’m not expecting much from him as a utility player(yet I am a fan of his), but at the same time I’m hoping the .091 batting average he has for the Sox in his 8 games here is not indicative of the player we got.
Will Middlebrooks: A (.298, 10 HR, 37 RBI) — Middlebrooks has been one of the few good surprises for the Sox. He comes into this season as a rookie, and his play early on was good enough to keep him in the lineup and eventually have the Sox trade his competitor Kevin Youkilis. In his last 8 games, his batting average has slipped from .331 to the current .298 and he hasn’t played since July 1 thanks to a hamstring injury, but I would expect him to continue to hit the cover off the ball as the second half of the season continues.
Dustin Pedroia: C (.266, 6 HR, 33 RBI) — Pedroia is currently on the disabled list, but he’s having an okay season so far. Petey is a career .300 hitter so he should be able to find a way to raise that batting average in the second half of the season, and if the Sox are able to make a run the 2008 AL MVP will be a huge part of it. This has been, statistically, the worst season of his career but he is battling through a thumb injury that is definitely hampering him, so you have to at least give him credit for trying.
Nick Punto: F (.212, 1 HR, 8 RBI) — Punto sucks. As of Friday he wasn’t even hitting his weight, and sometimes I wonder how he still has a roster spot. Every time I look at him I get even more frustrated because of the way he’s dishonoring Nomar’s number #5, and as I said last week, my 93 year old grandmother can bunt better than him.
Lars Anderson: Incomplete –Lars is hitting .255 with 9 HRs in Pawtucket this season but has only gone 1-8 for his time in Boston in 2012. He’s a player that the Sox hope develop, but the door is closing on him and decisions will have to be made soon.
Carl Crawford: Incomplete — Crawford has been injured all year and has been pissing off fans with his $19.5 million salary wasting away in rehab, extended spring training, and more rehab. Crawford also said that eventually his elbow is going to blow out and he will need Tommy John surgery, so he’s not winning over any more fans in 2012. I don’t even know what to expect from him over these final few months, and that kind of scares me.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Incomplete — Unlike Crawford, we actually know how Ellsbury got hurt…aka we know he was playing hard. Ellsbury had a tough start to the season, hitting just .192 over the first 7 games before injuring his shoulder, but c’mon it’s 7 games and Ellsbury would have won the AL MVP award last year if September didn’t happen (and he was probably the only reason the Sox didn’t lose every game that month). His return will be a big boost to the Red Sox (and my fantasy team) and it’s great that it will be coming sooner rather than later.
Ryan Kalish: Incomplete — Kalish played just 18 games for the Red Sox before being sent down to Pawtucket recently. He was hitting .217 for Boston and is at a .345 clip in the minor leagues this year, so the Sox know that they can count on him if they need outfield help again at any point later this season.
Che-Hsuan Lin: Incomplete –Lin’s greatest contribution to the Sox has been his defense. He played only 6 games for the big club this year but has made multiple diving/sliding catches.
Daniel Nava: B+ (.275, 3 HR, 26 RBI) — Nava has the tough job of filling in for Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup and as primarily a leadoff hitter is having a solid season for Boston. July has been a little rough on Nava as he’s hitting .156 to start it off, but he was above .300 as recently as June 30th. He’s producing more than most have expected from him and should stay in the outfield rotation until both Crawford and Ellsbury are healthy enough to return.
Scott Podsednik: Incomplete (.387, 1 HR, 7 RBI) — Scotty Pods was having a great start to his Boston career hitting close to .400 through 19 games before getting injured. He just came back over the weekend and should be back in the lineup in Tampa, so we’ll see what kind of production he’s got in him for the second half of the year.
Cody Ross: A (.264, 13 HR, 40 RBI) –David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both have more homeruns than Ross, but I feel that he has the most power of anyone on the team. When he comes to the plate at Fenway Park and you’re driving on the Mass Pike you better be tuned into the game, because he can hit the ball all the way out there. Ross is a fun player to watch and has been the most valuable outfielder so far in 2012.
Ryan Sweeney: B- (.283, 17 doubles, 14 RBI) — Sweeney is a quality reserve outfielder, though he has about as much pop as Mayor Bloomberg’s purposed outlaw on drinks larger than 16 ounces. Sweeney plays hard and has made some spectacular plays in the field despite already suffering a concussion this season.
David Ortiz: A (.312, 22 HR, 57 RBI) — Big Papi has been the Sox MVP this season and if he continues this pace he will be a legit contender for the AL MVP. Without Ortiz’ production the Sox would be even further back in last place in their division, if that’s possible. Ortiz is having his best season since 2007, and is playing for a contract, while also unfortunately whining about the one that he is playing on this year. Ortiz is the Sox lone representative in the All-Star festivities, and that just shows how much he still means to this team.
Alfredo Aceves: B- (0-6, 4.33 ERA, 19-23 SVO) — It hasn’t been the best year for Aceves, but he’s been adequate if not solid. He was not supposed to be the closer on this squad but was forced into the role with the injury to Andrew Bailey and with Daniel Bard’s ill-fated attempt to the become a starting pitcher. Aceves picked up 2 losses in this past Oakland series which make his numbers look worse, but I have confidence in him during the second half of the season, especially if Bailey comes back as the closer.
Matt Albers: A (2-0, 2.38 ERA, 34 innings) — Albers has been one of baseball’s best set-up men this year, and has not received the credit he’s deserved. If the Sox were a serious playoff contender Albers would be receiving more due, but right now he has to be happy as one of baseball’s most under-appreciated players.
Scott Atchison: A (2-1, 1.79 ERA, 45.1 innings) – “Everyday” Atchison is having the best year of his Red Sox career. He’s allowed just 9 runs in his 45 innings of work and has made 36 appearances already this season. This will be Atchison’s career year as he’s already nearing the 60 innings of his career high in 2010, and if he can continue at this amazing pace he should be in the running for the team’s unsung hero award at the year of the year.
Andrew Bailey: Incomplete — Bailey has yet to make an appearance for the Red Sox since the team traded Josh Reddick for him. Bailey was brought in to replace Jonathan Papelbon who left for the Phillies as a free-agent. I still have high expectations for Andrew Bailey as he returns from his right thumb injury, so hopefully he can pitch well for the team down the stretch.
Daniel Bard: F (5-6, 5.24 ERA, 55 innings) — I hate to say it, but Bard has imploded this year. He made his last appearance for the Sox on June 3rd in Toronto and lasted just 1 2/3 innings while almost killing a few batters, and his control has not improved in the slightest while in the minor leagues. Something is wrong with Bard mentally, especially making the switch from reliever to starter and then back to reliever currently, and he’s just not focusing the way that he should. Bard is one of my favorite players on this team when is producing, and I wanted him to be the closer when Bailey went down, but the problem right now for him is that he is hitting the broad side of the barn. And the barn’s window. And the horse in the barn.
Josh Beckett: C (4-7, 4.43 ERA, 89.1 innings) — Beckett hasn’t adored himself to fans again this year. After all the “chicken and beer” bullshit last year, Red Sox Nation was hoping Beckett would focus on baseball this year. Unfortunately word came out that he missed a start with a shoulder problem and was seen on the golf course around the same time. Personally, I don’t really care, and if Beckett produces like the player he’s supposed to then most other people won’t either, but right now you have to question what’s wrong with him.
Drake Britton: Incomplete — Britton is a young lefty pitching for AA Portland, and honestly I don’t know enough about him to give you an honest assessment. Sorry.
Clay Buchholz: C+ (8-2, 5.53 ERA, 86.1 innings) — Clay’s win/loss record doesn’t tell the whole story, as he’s been very inconsistent all season. He is also currently on the disabled list after being hospitalized with a severe stomach illness. It’s looking like he may make his return this weekend against Tampa, and it should be a pretty telling start to see how much he may have lost while being sidelined.
Chris Carpenter: Incomplete — The Sox received Carpenter as compensation for Theo Epstein and he is yet to make his debut for the Red Sox. I really don’t think he’ll ever make an impact for this team.
Aaron Cook: B+ (2-2, 4.37 ERA, 22.2 innings) — Cook has been solid since making the Red Sox as an emergency starter. He had an 81 pitch, 2 hit effort against Seattle at the end of June that I will be talking about for a long time since he’s a fellow ginger, and he also beat the Braves in his start prior to that. Cook is in serious consideration to be in the rotation during the second half of the season, and I’m all for that.
Felix Doubrant: A- (9-4, 4.41 ERA, 96 innings) — Early in the year, “Doobie” was the Sox best pitcher. He’s still getting results, but he’s not quite as unhittable as he was to begin the season. Doubront was supposed to be the fourth or fifth pitcher in the rotation, but if the playoffs were to start today (and the Sox miraculously made it) he’d be in my top two. I’m pleasantly surprised with what he’s done this year, and I hope the rest of the team can find a way to feed off it.
Justin Germano: Incomplete — In the ugly 6-1 Red Sox loss to the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, Justin Germano was the lone bright spot throwing 5 2/3 of scoreless ball. That’s been his only appearance for Boston so far, so it’s too early to say anything about him, but I’ll say I did love what he accomplished even if it happened in an embarrassing game.
Rich Hill: (1-0, 2.63 ERA, 13 2/3 innings) – Rich Hill was having a great year until he injured a flexor muscle in his elbow. He should be returning soon and the Sox could his quality arm out of the bullpen again.
John Lackey: A+++ — John Lackey is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery last November, and that’s the best news for the Red Sox rotation. Lackey’s $15.25 million contract is best served with the beer that is no longer allowed in the Sox clubhouse, and he is the perfect example of addition by subtraction.
Jon Lester: C- (5-6, 4.49 ERA, 112.1 innings) — Lester is supposed to be an ace. He is not pitching like one in 2012. You never know what you’re going to get from Lester this season, and the team needs him to start performing like 2-time All-Star he is and not your average Joe (or Jon as is the case here).
Diasuke Matsuzaka: D (0-3, 6.65 ERA, 23 innings) — Diasuke has been often injured since the end of the 2010 season. He’s made only 5 appearances this year and is yet to make it more than 6 innings in any of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve already seen the best that he has to offer, and at this point I’d love to see him serviceable if not solid.
Mark Melancon: D- (0-2, 7.04 ERA, 15.1 innings)— Melancon was brought on as end-of-the-bullpen help, but did so poorly to begin the season that he was sent down to the minors. At his highest this season, his ERA was at 49.50, so thankfully it’s at single digits now. I guess the only good thing is that he hasn’t allowed a run since June 22nd, but the former Yankee still leaves a lot to be desired.
Andrew Miller: A- (2-1, 2.75 ERA, 19.2 innings)— Miller has been a valuable lefty arm out of the bullpen this year, a roster position that the Sox do not have many of (Albers being the only other). I’ve followed Miller since his days with the University of North Carolina Tarheels and this is by far his best season of professional baseball to this point in his career.
Franklin Morales: B+ (1-2, 3.50 ERA, 46 1/3 innings) — Morales has been quality for the Sox this year. He posted a 1.29 ERA in June and he should be in the Red Sox rotation for the foreseeable future. He did get roughed up against the Yanks last outing, but Morales has been one of the Sox better pitchers and he deserves a chance to join the rotation and see what he can provide the team with in that role.
Clayton Mortensen: A (0-0, 1.33 ERA, 20.1 innings) — Mortenson has only made 9 appearances for Boston this year, but he’s done a fantastic job when he’s taken the mound. He’s allowed just 3 runs on 12 hits for the Sox, but has been sent back down to Pawtucket to make room for Germano. Mortensen will be an excellent addition in September if he doesn’t get called up again by then, and I am going to start following his career more closely now as he pitches for the Sox AAA squad in Rhode Island.
Vicente Padilla: A- (2-0, 3.94 ERA, 32 innings) — Padilla went from May 23rd to July 6 without allowing a run. He’s been a standout relief pitcher for the Sox and is playing like he has ice-water in his veins. He is a great example of how ERA is a useless stat for relief pitchers, and he’s averaging one strikeout per inning pitched this season. He’s been an unsung player for Boston.
Stolmy Pimentel: Incomplete — I consider myself a hard-core Red Sox fan, yet I still have barely ever heard of this kid. He’s a tall young righty pitching in AA Portland now, but still years away from making quality appearances in Boston.
Zach Stewart: Incomplete – Stewart is a young pitcher who was included in the Kevin Youkilis deal. He was 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA with the White Sox, but has pitched 18.1 innings with the PawSox allowing just 4 runs. Stewart is about 3 weeks older than me, so his time in Major Leagues can wait a bit.
Junichi Tazawa: Incomplete — Tazawa pitched 6 1/3 innings with Boston this year without allowing a run, and is having a good year with the PawSox going 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 24 games and 41 1/3 innings. Tazawa is still a work in progress and has averaged about 6 runs per 9 innings in his MLB career, so him getting innings in Pawtucket and getting a chance to work on his pitches are great for the team.
Bobby Valentine, Manager: D+ — .500 at the All-Star break is not what anyone was expecting, and much of that has to fall on the manager. Yes, injuries, underperforming players, and bad decisions from upper management all play a role in the team’s struggles, but Valentine hasn’t been the best communicator himself and I honestly don’t even see him as a leader of this ball-club. There is also reportedly much friction behind the scenes, and Valentine needs to do a better job in getting the most out of his players.
Dave Magadan, Hitting Coach: B- — With the millions of different outfielders being brought up to Boston and about half of Pawtucket suiting up for the big club at some point this season, Magadan has seen a ton of hitters. The offense is playing well this year, so you have to credit Magadan as well as the hitting coaches throughout the organization ranks.
Bob McClure, Pitching Coach: C- –Like Magadan, McClure has seen too many pitchers come through this year. Unfortunately, he’s not been able to get the most out of his pitchers the way Magadan has with the hitters. Daniel Bard’s struggles, as well as Lester and Beckett not playing anywhere near expectations ultimately fall on those players, but McClure needs to take responsibility as well.
Ben Cherington, Vice President, General Manager: D+ — Cherington’s start as the GM hasn’t turned out exactly how he planned. A key advocate for Bard to the rotation and an out-spoken supporter of Kevin Youkilis as Will Middlebrooks began his tear, Cherington hasn’t enjoyed the first half of this season. Add in the ridiculous season that Josh Reddick has had for Oakland with Andrew Bailey chillin’ on the disabled list, and it’s been a less than stellar beginning for Cherington.
John W. Henry, Thomas Werner, Larry Lucchino: F – This organization is currently mismanaged at many levels, and a lot of that falls on the owners of the Fenway Sports Group , who at times seem to be spending more energy with Liverpool FC and their NASCAR team than focusing on baseball and the Red Sox. Communication is a key to any business, and something is lost in that communication this year, because there is no way that I believe that this business could be run this poorly by such educated individuals. $170 million to run a .500 baseball team is excessive and almost ignorant but that’s how the Three Musketeers (or stooges) roll.