Strengths and weaknesses of the team in the first half
A first half of the Red Sox on strengths and weaknesses
The 2021 Boston Red Sox team stunned, shocked, bewildered and surprised me. There is absolutely no way I would expect this team to be seriously contested, but here they are halfway in first place. The team has strengths and weaknesses, like all teams. Now a look at some of my personal observations.
The team’s lack of speed is noted and constitutes a weakness. When a 230-pound catcher leads the team in interceptions with seven, you know an SB isn’t exactly an offensive weapon. This is symptomatic of the lack of a burner in the mold of Jacoby Ellsbury. A player who puts the defense in motion and psychologically carries a pitcher just by being on first base.
Conversely, a basic force does exist. It’s a team that takes a risk factor by putting pressure on the defense when they’re on the bases. Rafael Devers marking on a fly bag pop-up. The same applies to taking the additional base on one go. I like that this team challenge the defense to make mistakes. Yes, sometimes it will be a head game, but that mentality is in the brains of defense. You sleep and these guys are taking advantage.
The number to note is .632. This is the percentage of road wins. The home record has improved considerably over the season and is well above the 0.500 mark. A balanced team will achieve this. Certain strength is this factor and win within your division. This Red Sox team has accomplished that.
Remember that “June Swoon” baseball line where a team starts to fold? Not this one. The strength has been the consistency from month to month. Add the possibility of winning matches in one run and we have that sweet smell of success.
Rotation is an obvious weakness. The latest social media victim is Garrett Richards, who was the target of scaffolding against the Royals. Like the other starters, Richards suddenly recovered his pitching mojo and went five. The description of nothing is more consistent than the inconsistency applies to that rotation.
The mention of the Royals is reminiscent of their last championship when the rotation was a train wreck and the magic enclosure. I can see a similarity to the Boston rotation – bullpen situation this season. The bullpen is one of the most obvious strengths and for me an enjoyable raven diet. I had Josh Taylor, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Barnes on my list you know what. Now? Alex Cora has several that can slip into high leverage situations without my needing a portable defibrillator.
Pitching is the most important part of defense, but the second part is an abomination and that is to catch that little white sphere. I will take a positive point from this defense in that the mistakes are mostly physical and not mental. This defense is a sure candidate for a Gold Gove Weakness Award.
The top of the order is a continuous show of dogs and ponies. Many have tried and they have all failed. Miserable OBP, lack of speed, terrible batting averages, and so on. The only one who even comes close to feeling warm and hazy is Christian Arroyo who needs a bulletproof vest when he hits. Arroyo gets nicks and dents faster than a Rent-a-Wreck rental. Somehow, the team survived the revolving door in first place. It is possible that Jarren Duran will be released from WooSox house arrest and brought in as a remedy. My opinion is that Duran could reverse this weakness.
It’s a very dysfunctional line. The basics are strong and have carried a fairly offensive burden. Is there a baseball god we can thank for Hunter Renfroe? Meanwhile, the lineup contains real deadweight. As long as you win, Cora can trot Marwin Gonzalez, Bobby Dalbec, Danny Santana, and Michael Chavis. Like the proverbial Blind Squirrel, it seems everyone finds a nut at least once per game.
A friend says bias makes you stupid and I have a bias with Cora. It revolves around actions which are quite simply known as cheating. That said, Cora did a great job managing this crew. The players have apparently adopted Cora’s mix and match strategy. Throwers are given enough rope to fight their way out of Jam Town or get smoked. Cora’s game management is solid. The clubhouse situation is like 26 Gandhi wishing good vibes to everyone.
Chaim Bloom has certainly been a positive force. Bloom’s mercenaries were a dismal failure last season. Phillips Valdez was the only one who got traction and now he’s gone to Worcester. There have been a few hiccups this season – think Franchy Cordero, but overall the outlook is positive. No skinning of the farming system and they stayed under budget while winning. It is not a bridge year.
The real strength now is Fenway Park. In a recent baseball game I attended against the Yankees (6/26) the place was as loud as any game I have seen. And the beauty was despite a large number of Yankees fans in attendance, there were no noticeable incidents. The players feed on it.