There are no easy answers for Red Sox' woes

Rob Bradford
June 12, 2019 - 8:52 am

The Red Sox are in a bind.

They sit at .500, eight games out of first place in the American League East and three games in back of the Wild Card leaders. Worst of all, this team is trudging through life with very little answers when it comes to what might lead it out of this muck. That was put on display once again in the Red Sox' latest loss, a 9-5 defeat at the hands of the Rangers Tuesday night. (For a complete recap, click here.)

"We’re not good right now," Cora said after his team's latest loss. "We’re playing .500 baseball. Tomorrow we have Rick followed by David. We have to pitch better. We have to put better at-bats. We just have to better. I’ve been saying that all season long. We’ve been very inconsistent at what we do. Tomorrow we have to show up and try to win a ballgame. Find a way. But we have absolutely have to be better than this if we want to be in the hunt."

For those who are screaming to blow it up ... good luck with that.

Let's start there.

OK, you want to fix this with trades. Besides getting another bullpen arm what would be the obvious target? Let me answer that for you, there isn't one. These pieces that Dave Dombrowski put in place carried you to a World Series championship last year which is why we keep thinking something different is around the corner.

Sure, Mookie Betts' contract is up after next season. (By the way, click here to listen to Mookie on the latest edition of the Bradfo Sho podcast.) But do you really think the best course of action is to try and win without one of baseball's best players, even if it means securing pieces for a brighter future? Same thing with J.D. Martinez. He can opt-out after this season. But the same thing holds true, your hopes and dreams for a resurgence in 2019 is still tied to riding the bat of this guy.

Maybe you entertain a deal involving Jackie Bradley Jr. considering his contract status and value around the league, but where will that get you. Especially now that he is hitting a bit, the center field still undoubtedly means more to this Red Sox team that it does for another team. Want to upgrade at first base or second base? Are you going to do better than the upside of Mitch Moreland and Michael Chavis, respectively?

This feels like a sink or swim situation when it comes to the lineup. That is the Red Sox' uncertain lot in life.

Another issue -- which is perhaps the biggest one -- is the Sox' inability to fill in the gaps left by Nathan Eovaldi, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez . Tuesday night it was Darwinzon Hernandez's turn. Before him, it was Josh Smith and Ryan Weber. This was perhaps the most egregious miscalculation on behalf of Dombrowski, not realizing how fortunate the Red Sox were that Johnson and Velazquez not only produced in 2018 but that they were healthy enough to do so. 

Outside of Velazquez and Johnson last season, the Red Sox had exactly two desperation spot starts, coming from Jalen Beeks and William Cuevas. For the entire 2018 season, no minor-leaguers needed to be rushed, with the team's lack of organization depth not exposed a single time. That certainly hasn't been the case this time around.

OK, you want to count on the improved health of Moreland, Eovaldi, Steve Pearce and even Steven Wright. Go ahead. It seems like a pretty big leap of faith to think there are going to be no more physical hiccups and even if there aren't the 2018 reliability is on the horizon.

As Alex Cora keeps proclaiming, the guys they have simply have to play better. Early in the season, that seemed like a plausible solution. Now it feels almost like an unlikely path.

They are not who we thought they were, and that's the biggest problem of all.

Both Andrew Benintendi and Alex Cora were thrown out of Tuesday night's game, with Benintendi initially being tossed after shouting back at home plate umpire Angel Hernandez after crossing first base.

"Yeah, I mean, I thought it was off the plate," said Benintendi of the call he disagreed with. "But I didn’t say anything to Angel. I ground out and I was frustrated and all I said was, you suck. Angel didn’t even know I was thrown out until I went back out there. Obviously, he didn’t hear that and I’m 100 feet away. (First base umpire) Vic (Carapazza) throws me out walking back to the dugout and I was surprised.”

Cora would be tossed after coming out to defend his player.

"Benny, he disagreed with the first pitch of the at-bat," the manager said. "And he hit the ground ball and he screamed something to Angel. But everybody saw it. He was walking toward the dugout but they didn't like what he said and they threw him out. I’ve got to go out there and defend my player. I didn't agree with that. It’s not like at the plate screaming at Angel whatever. That’s not the first time somebody disagrees and screams from afar at the umpire so just let him know and that was it."