By Matt Straub
For the first two weeks, the Boston Red Sox have been the best team in the AL East. If they keep on their current pace, they will cruise to a playoff spot. The offense is dominant, the bullpen has had some bright spots, and the fielding has been OK.
So why have my last couple of Red Sox pieces been downers? Because the starting pitching is harder to watch than a WWE match involving the New Day and the joy of the first few days of the year seems to be lost. Patriot’s Day is always special, but the Red Sox seem too close to the dog days for my liking right now. Maybe playing a testy series at Tampa this week will get some momentum back.
After another solid, if uninspiring week, let’s look at who helped keep the Red Sox afloat and who needs to step up and help keep the team in first place.
Brock Holt: The first sign of trouble is that the bright spot this week is the utility man, much as he was last year. The guy is a fine player who deserves everything which has come to him. He works hard and plays everywhere, usually well. He’s been great lately and will need to be on a team full of injuries waiting to happen, but you don’t win titles when Brock Holt is one of your best players.
Dustin Pedroia: He clearly reads gamedayishere.com. My preseason columns questioning his future capability have looked bad so far, though I still want to see what he does over a whole season (and if he can make it that far). For now, however, he’s been fantastic and had another great week.
Ryan Hanigan: He had a .300 week, which is more than you can dream of from a catcher in most cases. He just has to make his spot in the order something other than an automatic out, and he has done so.
David Ortiz: We’re talking about 1 ½ games which won’t matter much in the grand schemed of things, but Ortiz getting ejected for arguing a check swing and getting suspended for bumping an umpire will cost the Red Sox their best hitter for at least six at-bats. He’s never been a real leader like Pedroia, but he has to know better. Sometimes you just have to let someone else be right, even if they aren’t. Did he go around? No. Was it worth a game and a half? No.
Hanley Ramirez: He has cooled off considerably, and asked out of Monday morning’s game with an illness. Plus, his defense isn’t getting any better. It’s early, but when he’s in left I miss Manny Ramirez. I’m sure his bat will come back, and he might have really been sick Monday, but this hasn’t been a good week for the new guy.
Pablo Sandoval: Speaking of new guys struggling, the “Panda” is 2-for-11 heading into Tuesday in his last four games and is now being sat against some lefties. It’s likely nothing more than an early slump, but he had better be able to do something against lefties for all the money he’s making.
Come to think of it, if you look at the names in the Down section this week, it's amazing the Red Sox were even decent.