The Red Sox return home from the west coast and start a three game series tonight versus the Texas Rangers. The Red Sox seem to be on the verge of righting the ship, but there are still a number of issues that are preventing this team from getting hot and going on a run. We'll go through a number of these issues and then bat them around in the comments section.
Now let's head to the back of the channels and have some highly secret (only not secret at all) meetings about all things Red Sox.
1. New pitching coach Carl Willis has seemingly fixed the starting rotation over night. Is he a magic man? Is it a coincidence? There were some signs of improvement prior to his arrival, but you can't deny that since he got here the starting pitching has been excellent. Maybe the firing of Juan Nieves was the wake up call that some of these guys needed, sprinkle that in with a new voice and a little fine tuning and we could see a major turn around with this group. Or...the coincidence may have come with the fact that the Red Sox faced some bad offenses on the west coast.
2. The offense has stolen the mantle as the weakest link from the starting rotation. I hope they find their bats in the Fenway clubhouse and some hits. Is it time to move Mike Napoli down in the order? Is it time to move Hanley to 1B and call up Rusney Castillo? I still believe that a Mike Napoli hot streak is right around the corner, but how long can they afford to wait?
3. Just based off of the eye test alone, and some comments recently from John Farrell it is clear that Xander Bogaerts has made great strides defensively. But has it come at the expense of his offense? Or at least his power? Like a catcher who has to make his defense a priority only to have his offense suffer because of it. Has the same thing happened to Xander? If it has is that OK? Should shortstop be a defense first position like it was in the 1970's and 80's? His power seems to be all but gone and not just home run power but that gap to gap power that he displayed in his short time in 2013 and early 2014. Will Xander find his power stroke?
4. Big Papi seems to have figured some things out and he's hitting the ball hard again. Now if Dustin Pedroia can do the same we might start scoring some runs. Are we witnessing the end of Big Papi? And the downside of Dustin Pedrioa's career? (Note: At this rate Dustin WILL NOT be in the MLB top 10 best players of 2015, he may not even be in the top 100 next year).
5. The bullpen seems to have settled down some and the roles seem to be a little more clear. Matt Barnes has pitched well, not great, but good enough since his move to the bullpen. The clearly defined roles at this point are Koji as the closer and Taz as the 8th inning guy. Barnes and Ogando seem to be handling the 6th and 7th innings, but the left handers haven't been very good especially Craig Breslow. The 2013 stretch run may have been his last hurrah. My prediction is that he'll be the next one to be DFA'd. Should the Sox dump Breslow?
6. Allen Craig passed through waivers and is no longer on the Red Sox 40 man roster. But, he still is with Pawtucket. Put baseball aside for a moment and his fall from grace has been very sad. By all accounts he is a very quiet guy, but a good guy. I really thought he was going to have a great bounce back season this year, but he couldn't take advantage of the opportunities he was given early in the season and now he'll have to find himself in AAA and if he's going to get another chance at the big league level it will likely be with another organization. At this point Bryce Brentz would get a shot in Boston before Craig.
7. The Red Sox seem to have weathered the storm, but they also left some opportunities on the table to have a better road trip. 5-5 is better than 2-8, but they easily could have gone 7-3. Is this team close to returning to the form that put them at the top of the AL east in early April or are they destined to spend the season in the middle of the pack in the AL east? Is tonight the night they start to turn things around at home vs. the Rangers?
My answer? It's more probable than not...