By Matt Straub
Monday night was perhaps the lowest night of the season for the Boston Red Sox, and they didn’t even play. It wasn’t bad because of an awful loss or another costly injury. Monday night was bad because of the numerous reminders of how far the Red Sox have fallen.
First, the Cubs and Cardinals played on ESPN. Through six innings, the game was scoreless as two pitchers dominated. Those pitchers were Jon Lester and John Lackey, both of whom were Red Sox a year ago at this time. Lackey is with the Cardinals playing for the baseball equivalent of peanuts. He had a clause in his contract which called for him to make $500,000 this year if he suffered a major injury earlier in the contract, which is what happened. He told the Red Sox he wouldn’t play for the cheap money, threatening to retire first. So what did Boston do? Instead of calling his bluff or working on a cheap extension for which Boston had all the leverage (a simple “we’ll help you out this year if you give us a break on the following years” deal would have worked) they traded him for Joe Kelly, a decent pitcher, and Allen Craig, whose big league contributions appear to be over.
Lackey isn’t exactly a wonderful guy, but he was a solid pitcher. What do the Red Sox need more than anything in 2015? Solid starting pitching. Kelly isn’t Rick Porcello bad, but he’s not as good as Lackey, and he makes much more money.
Speaking of money, the Red Sox spent tons of it this offseason, adding bats such as Hanley Ramirez (a deal I hated immediately) and Pablo Sandoval (who I offered to carry to Boston in my wheelchair but hasn’t worked out as well as I’d hoped so far), but not pitching. Still, with Ramirez, Sandoval, a healthy Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia to go along with David Ortiz, Boston was going to have a dynamic offense full of All-Stars.
Then the All-Star Game rosters were revealed Monday. None of the above names were on it. Boston’s All-Star? Utility man Brock Holt.
Holt has grown on me. He’s turned into a better hitter than I ever thought he would and plays everywhere but pitcher and catcher. I’ve gone from trashing him to appreciating his value. But if he’s your All-Star, you’re in trouble. When he’s your All-Star over guys who combine to make hundreds of millions of dollars, your team had a horrific year.
While Holt deserves recognition, his All-Star selection brings shame upon the Red Sox front office, and more importantly, the players Ben Cherington signed. A group which is paid like All-Stars will sit and watch as the team’s fill-in guy represents their team at the All-Star game, who was picked on a night when two of the team’s best pitchers from the World Series squad of 2013 dueled in a NL Central contest.
Good for Holt, shame on everyone else.
Now, those should-be All-Stars get the chance to try and get something going in a huge week for the team against the terrible Marlins before facing the mighty Yankees.
Miami Marlins (35-48, 4th place NL East)
at Boston Red Sox (39-45, last place AL East)
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.
Dan Haren (6-5, 3.45 ERA) vs. Wade Miley (8-7, 4.53)
Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.
Tom Koehler (7-4, 3.52) vs. Rick Porcello (4-9, 6.08)
Three Marlins To Watch
1. Dee Gordon is a whirlwind on the bases and more than a good enough hitter to get there, leading the team in batting average at .339. He has been ice cold in the last week, but that can change at any time. With Giancarlo Stanton gone, there isn’t a lot to see in the lineup besides Gordon.
2. A.J. Ramos has turned into a fantastic closer, and could have the Red Sox in big trouble if they’re behind late.
3. Haren almost didn’t go to the Marlins when they picked him up, but has had a nice year, making Miami glad he showed up. He’s another in a long line of tough pitchers the Sox will face in the days ahead.
A day off, then a set against those guys from New York.