Here we are: after today’s series finale match-up against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox – along with 29 other teams – will enter into the All-Star break and await the second half of the 2016 season. Seems like just yesterday the season opener against the now red-hot Cleveland Indians kicked off another season of high hopes.
A few nights ago, I met up with some fellow Red Sox fans (hard to come by in the state of Florida) at a neighborhood bar near my home to watch the series finale against the Texas Rangers. Five minutes into sitting down and cracking open my first ice-cold Sam Adams, my friend Carl asked me, “Clint, what are your thoughts on the first half of the season?” As I sat on an old wooden stool, spinning the cap from my beer across the bar top, all I could reply with was a, “Um, it’s been … decent, I guess.”
Like many Sox fans this season, I’ve gotten used to b’ing and moaning about the pitching staff (Hey, Clay!) and praying that the usual consistent bats pull us out of a jam. Luckily for us, the bats have certainly come through and put up some wins, but to myself the 2016 campaign for our beloved Red Sox has felt decent, at best.
With the exception of a rare losing streak recently, the Baltimore Orioles have certainly been winning some ball games. When the Red Sox first dropped to second place in the AL East, I pep talked myself into being okay with it because at least it was better than the basement that we had unfortunately gotten used to the last couple of seasons. It was one of those, “Well, it could be much worse” type scenarios that I kept repeating to myself, but if you’re a diehard Red Sox fan you know all too well that being content with second place isn’t in our makeup. We can leave that to other ball clubs and their fans, but this is the Boston Red Sox and it’s either be the best or it’s a wasted season.
It pains me to admit because truthfully Boston has played pretty dang good all factors considered, but it feels a little like they are just kind of hanging in there. Normally, “hanging in there” would not bother me all that much, but the Red Sox roster has way too much talent to be receiving participation medals from us fans.
So, what can happen to ensure the Red Sox moving forward into the second half of the season are not hanging on by a thread and keeping their fingers crossed each night that a stroke of good luck and hot bats pull them out of a hole? Boston’s President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, appears to be well aware of the source of some issues and on the path to correcting them.
Three days ago, while most of us were sleeping, the Red Sox traded for the Milwaukee Brewers’ 34-year-old infielder Aaron Hill. In the series opener this past Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, Hill made it an immediate impact in the 6-5 win by knocking in a couple of RBI’s. By trading for Hill, the Red Sox proved to us that depth in a lineup is crucial, especially as we inch closer to October and a playoff run.
Mr. Dombrowski has been outspoken about some of the obvious pitching woes for Boston and took the opportunity to add closer Brad Ziegler, who came from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ziegler does not look to be a direct replacement for Craig Kimbrel, who is currently out for a few weeks from a knee surgery, but to work as someone that will once again add depth and hopefully stability as the season progresses.
Dombrowski has also talked about that he is looking for another starter to add to the rotation, but many teams are looking for quality starters as well and there are so few to choose from currently. The Red Sox rotation currently sits at 23rd in the majors, but fingers crossed that Dombrowski is able to land a new starter to right the ship. Given his track record, I’d say his chances are quite high.
The recent moves the Red Sox front office have made to set-up for the second half of the season is a solid step in the right direction. I would love to see them continue to chip away at the stone and strategize on where to add more depth. A lot of factors need to align in Boston’s favor, but if they can stay consistent and keep the win’s coming, see y’all in October.