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Red Sox Report Card July

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We're about to enter the dog days of the MLB season. While the Red Sox have sat at the top of the American League East division for much of the season, their performance in July has brought them back to the pack; the Tampa Bay Rays are neck-and-neck with Boston thanks to a scorching-hot month of baseball, while the Baltimore Orioles lurk not far behind. And of course, only a fool counts out the Yankees especially with two months left in the season.

Still, the Red Sox are playing solid baseball. Considering the quality of the division in which they play, they're performing reasonably well a couple of games over .500 for July is nothing to sneeze at. You'd like to see them put some distance between themselves and the rest of the AL East, but that seems unlikely to happen. Expect even more of a battle in the month of August.

On to the Report Card.

Hitting B-

There was bound to be some regression after the magnificent month the offense had in June. However, you hate to see this big of a step back. They've gone from leading the league in the slash stats (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) to the middle of the pack. And while David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Napoli have put up some good numbers, the underperformance of players like Dustin Pedroia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia has hamstrung the offense significantly. One bright spot has been the running game the Sox are among the leaders in stolen bases for the month. We knew they weren't as good as they looked in June; rest assured they're better than they looked in July.

Starting Pitching C+

If a 'C' is average, then this grade is just about right. This team's two best starters in the month of July were John Lackey (who admittedly is having a wonderfully resurgent season) and Felix Doubront; Doubront especially has been great. But Jon Lester has been mediocre and Ryan Dempster a touch worse than that. Add in the team's complete inability to find anyone to serve as an adequate replacement for the injured Clay Buchholz Allen Webster and Brandon Workman are doing their best, but their best is insufficient - and you've got a rotation that just barely manages to squeak past average. This group might prove to be a sore spot in the weeks ahead.

Bullpen B+

This group almost warranted a higher grade; some of the Boston relievers have looked nothing short of phenomenal for most of July. Koji Uehara has led the charge, striking out roughly three batters every two innings and generally dominating. Craig Breslow has looked mighty good as well, while Junichi Tazawa has done solid work. Andrew Bailey looked to be finally righting his slumping ship before the injury bug bit again. Recent arrival Drake Britton has looked good in his initial outings, as has Pedro Beato. Still, one wonders if it's all smoke and mirrors; we'll see how they hold up under the blazing hot August sun.

Defense B-

Very little changes for the Red Sox in this category; Boston has a couple of strong defensive players, but for the most part, the team is average with the glove. With the exception of guys like Pedroia and Ellsbury (and Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew to a lesser extent), this is a group that can't be counted on to field much beyond what's hit right at them. While none of them are terrible fielders (though a couple of them come close), these aren't Gold Glovers we're talking about. Expect more of the same moving forward.

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