The sample size is growing for the 2016 Red Sox. It's still incredibly early, but some things are becoming more clear two and a half weeks into the season. So here are some more reactions and likely still over-reactions.
1. The catching situation has had a seasons worth of ups and downs already. Let's start with the positives. All three catchers are healthy, unlike last season. Christian Vazquez and all his defensive intangibles are as advertised and he seems to have kickstarted the starting rotation, especially Rick Porcello. That can't be denied. Blake Swihart's ability to block balls in the dirt is improved from last season and he is going to be a very good offensive player at the MLB level.
I do have a problem with the way that the Red Sox handled the catching situation though. The Red Sox have a very talented young player in Blake Swihart, who John Farrell himself said in spring training is the starting catcher. Then 7 games into the season he's sent back down to Pawtucket after missing a crucial foul pop-up in a loss to the Orioles. Swihart's defensive deficiencies were a problem, but when you send him down after having a bad game without giving him a chance to get back on the horse and bounce back from that adversity it makes it seem like you're putting all the onus for a bad start on that young kid. The Red Sox win now approach is very real, but at what cost? I hope the Red Sox didn't set this talented youngster back a couple seasons with how they handled him.
Having a veteran back up catcher can be an important asset for a good team, so I understand the Red Sox wanting to keep Ryan Hanigan. But, in the long run a tandem of Vazquez and Swihart behind the dish will make the catching position very strong for years to come. If Swihart can catch 30% of the time and play some 1B/LF/DH while Vazquez handles the majority of the catching duties that is the ideal outcome to this situation. For those in Red Sox Nation who now want to trade Swihart I have a message for you: SHUT UP!
2. Rick Porcello seems to be pitching with a lot of confidence right now. If he continues to pitch this way it will give the Red Sox a solid number two starter behind David Price.
3. John Farrell is going to blow out the Red Sox bullpen by Memorial Day at the rate things are going. His overuse of Junichi Tarawa, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel is concerning. The good news is that the Red Sox are playing a lot of close games so they need to use their best pitchers to try and win. These things do have a way of evening out if they play a stretch of games that are not close they may get the extended rest that they need. The return of Carson Smith would go a long way, but with the way that Farrell is using the bullpen he will be on the surgery table by the Fourth of July.
4. Joe Kelly's injury is a shame and it appears that he'll be out a couple of months, but after watching his first two starts and they way the team is shaping up wouldn't it be smart to bring Kelly back as a reliever? He could be that 5th guy out of the bullpen that could pitch middle relief and set up. His stuff would certainly play well out of the bullpen. With Steven Wright pitching well and Eduardo Rodriquez on the road to recovery Joe Kelly should be moved to the bullpen. He has the potential to be the next Wade Davis.
5. Xander Bogaerts left last night's game with tightness in his quad, but after the game John Farrell said that he may not miss any games. Let's hope that is the case. However, it may be start with a day game after night game to sit Xander out on Thursday to make sure he doesn't miss an extended period of time down the road.
6. Jackie Bradley Jr. seems poised to have a really solid season. He just looks so much more comfortable at the plate and of course he could play CF in his sleep. If he can get on base consistently out of the ninth hole in the lineup that would be such a weapon for this team.
7. It's been mentioned on here before that Jerry Remy is doing some of his best work this season, but it bears saying again. Jerry has been phenomenal this year. Perhaps with some of his families off the field issues behind him and having things in the booth shaken up with Dave O'Brien replacing Don Orsillo he really seems to have refocused on analyzing the game which is what he's best at. Keep up the good work Jerry! On that note, David Eckersley is so fun to listen to. I'm not going to say that he should replace Jerry full time, but when we do get some Eck it is so entertaining.
Also, Dave O'Brien seems to be settling in and doing a good job. Red Sox fans have a soft spot for Don Orsillo, rightfully so, but you can't deny that Dave O'Brien is good at his job. Understandably, he seems to forget that he's not on radio any more while announcing Red Sox games. There was one home run that the Blue Jays hit in Toronto that he was still calling as being high and deep when we could already see that it landed in the upper deck and about three seconds after it landed in the seats he said that it was gone. It was kind of funny, but overall Dave is very good.
8. John Farrell's job is being scrutinized on a daily basis, which is nothing new in Boston, but I just have a sneaking suspicion that Dave Dombrowski is still evaluating him on a daily basis and if he continues to get out managed regularly and cost the Red Sox wins he's going to get fired. If the Red Sox could pull out a good 8-2 stretch it might put some of that talk to rest.
9. Big Papi is off to a great start. I still can't believe that this is his last season. We've been spoiled to watch such a great hitter for so long. Enjoy every game that we have this season with Papi in the line up. Soak it up Red Sox Nation because we'll be telling our kids and grandkids about it for the next fifty years.