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Red Sox Report Card June 2015

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It's probably safe to say that the last vestiges of Red Sox optimism are swirling the drain.

We're essentially at the halfway point of the season enough time has elapsed for even the most diehard to accept the reality that the seemingly-solid plan going into 2015 has proven to be less sturdy than anticipated.

Was the Red Sox performance better in June? Absolutely barring historic levels of incompetence, it had to be. Unfortunately, 'better' is a relative term; this team struggled to even hover around the break-even mark for the month. They sit firmly ensconced at the bottom of the American League East while the other four teams in the division battle it out in a close race for the top spot.

And it doesn't look like it's going to get much better.

Could the team turn it around? Of course there's still a whole lot of baseball to be played. A few well-timed hot streaks and anything can happen. Still, it's probably best for Boston fans to understand that while hope is a wonderful thing, sometimes reality just doesn't cooperate.

On to the Report Card.

Hitting B

After the abysmal showing the offense put up in May, there was no doubt that they would bounce back. The question was just how far back, and as it turned out pretty far. The Red Sox managed to finish the month in the top third of the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Youngsters Mookie Betts (.326, three homers) and Xander Bogaerts (.324, 16 RBI) had great months. Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez have been excellent when they haven't been hurt, while Pablo Sandoval has picked things up. However, mid-lineup mainstays David Ortiz and Mike Napoli have struggled. Ortiz has six June homers, but hit just .236, while Napoli has been a disaster at the plate, batting just .185. The rest of the lineup has buoyed the offense, but that can't last forever - at least one of these two needs to get it going.

Starting Pitching C-

We'll start with the good news Clay Buchholz had an excellent month, putting up a 2.21 ERA in six starts. Wade Miley was pretty good, too, with a 3.30 ERA over his five starts. The rest of it, however, is not so good. Rick Porcello was 0-4 with a 5.87 ERA. After his hot start, young Eduardo Rodriguez managed just a 5.53 ERA in five starts. And Joe Kelly, after posting a 5.23 ERA in his four starts, was demoted to AAA Pawtucket. Moving forward, this group needs Buchholz and Miley to maintain and Rodriguez to get his groove back. From there, if two can emerge from the group of Porcello, Kelly and a back-from-injury Justin Masterson, the rotation might have a shot at competence come July.

Bullpen C

This group offers much the same story as the starting rotation. A couple of guys had strong months Alexi Ogando was very good, while Craig Breslow started to get back on track. Tommy Layne was solid as well. However, closer Koji Uehara and bullpen mainstay Junichi Tazawa were below-average, marking ERAs of 4.91 and 4.38 respectively. And Matt Barnes has been gasoline on a fire all month, giving up well more than a run per inning. Having some strong middle-inning performers is great and all, but most of June featured shaky-at-best performance from the endgame guys. If this is a consequence of the relatively shoddy nature of the starting pitching resulting in overwork, wellthen it's going to be a long summer.

Fielding C-

This is probably on the generous side. The defense isn't terrible, though there are definitely some spots where things are more than a little suspect. There are some guys who are still flashing the leather; Pedroia is a consistent performer when he's not hurt. Bogaerts and Betts have matched their improved hitting with some defensive improvement. But everyone else is at best an average defender and more than a few can't even manage that. Essentially, we continue to hope that all players can get their gloves up fast enough to deflect the rockets being smashed off the team's many struggling pitchers.


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