Boston Red Sox

Trevor Story needs to spend some time on the shelf.

Early in the Red Sox’ 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 12, Corey Kluber’s 3-1 pitch to Story went high and inside, and the Red Sox second baseman attempted a checked swing. The ball unfortunately struck Story on his right hand in the course of the swing, and he had to immediately exit the game mid-at-bat. Boston later announced on Sunday that Story was placed on the 10-Day Injured List with a hand contusion.

Story is batting .221 this season, leading the team in RBIs (58) and stolen bases (10), but also strikeouts (105).

With Story out of the lineup for the time being, the Red Sox called up infielder Connor Wong from Worcester. Wong has eight at-bats in five games with Boston this season, hitting .250. Even though his primary position is at catcher, Wong came in to replace Jeter Downs at second in the two games since getting the call-up to the majors.

Story isn’t the only player of note to recently suffer an injury. Ace lefty Chris Sale injured his pinky finger after it was hit by a line drive during Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. Sale’s timetable for a possible return has yet to be announced.

Mazz: The floundering Red Sox are now at a crossroads

At the start, they went 10-19. In the middle, they went 32-12. And at the end of a first half that concluded yesterday with another unsightly beating in New York, the Red Sox went 6-14, finishing at 48-45 with 69 games to play in this frustrating 2022 season.

So, what should we make of this Red Sox team?

Well, for starters, they’ve been far more predictable than those extremes would suggest.

Boston’s failures, of course, coincided with stretches of play inside the division, where the Sox have gone a combined 12-26 against Baltimore (3-5), New York (4-6), Tampa Bay (2-8) and Toronto (3-7). If you are focused on the outcome of the individual series in the division, the Sox are a gruesome 0-10-1. They have been so thoroughly outplayed by the rest of the American League East that you might be correct to describe as the worst team in a deep, five-team division.

With all of that in mind, here are five things to consider as the Sox enter the All-Star break:

  • Once again, Chris Sale has given the Red Sox absolutely nothing

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 17: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox leaves the field with a dislocated pinky finger after getting hit by a line drive from Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees in the first inning at Yankee Stadium on July 17, 2022 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 17: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox leaves the field with a dislocated pinky finger after getting hit by a line drive from Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees in the first inning at Yankee Stadium on July 17, 2022 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    Let’s remember something here: Sale was not still recovering from Tommy John surgery this offseason. He had recovered. Then he suffered a stress fracture in his ribcage. Then he had a setback. Now has a fractured pinky finger that was the result of being hit by a line drive. Is some of that just bad luck? Sure. But the Red Sox didn’t exactly hedge their bets with roster construction. They left themselves vulnerable. And they’re paying for it.

  • Taking Garrett Whitlock out of the bullpen was the biggest mistake the Red Sox made

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 01: Pitcher Garrett Whitlock #72 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Fenway Park on June 01, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 01: Pitcher Garrett Whitlock #72 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Fenway Park on June 01, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    For all of the Sox’ inconsistencies, they brought this one on themselves. They were short in the bullpen to start the year, then made the problem worse by employing Whitlock as a starter. (This felt like a move geared entirely toward the future.) Today, the Sox rank ninth in the AL in save opportunities but just 24th in actual saves, which speaks volumes. Incredibly, only the Tampa Bay Rays (23 blown saves) have blown more opportunities than the Red Sox, though it should be noted that Rays relievers have pitched the most innings in baseball. If Whitlock had been in the pen the entire time, the Sox would have been better off – though exactly how much is debatable.

  • There are still whispers of the Sox selling at the Aug. 2 trading deadline

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 15: Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom looks on during a press conference addressing the departure of Alex Cora as manager of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on January 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. A MLB investigation concluded that Cora was involved in the Houston Astros sign stealing operation in 2017 while he was the bench coach. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 15: Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom looks on during a press conference addressing the departure of Alex Cora as manager of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on January 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. A MLB investigation concluded that Cora was involved in the Houston Astros sign stealing operation in 2017 while he was the bench coach. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Suddenly, this doesn’t seem like such an outrageous idea. But even with the recent rash of defeats, the Sox are still just a few games from a playoff spot. So what will chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom do? Good question. The Sox have a truckload of valuable free agents-to-be – Xander Bogaerts, J.D Martinez, Christian Vazquez and Nathan Eovaldi, among others – and each could have value on the trade market. But selling off parts in the middle of a playoff chase would send a horrible message to fans and uniformed personnel, not necessarily in that order.

  • The future looks blurry – and the Sox could get worse before they get better

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 11: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox hits a double in the second inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 11, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – JULY 11: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox hits a double in the second inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 11, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    Over the last 2-3 years, there has been endless speculation about the Sox’ payroll and the team’s appetite for big, long-term contracts. Meanwhile, the potential departures of Bogaerts and Martinez bear special attention because could leave the Sox with a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup. Filling those gaps with rookies like Tristan Casas seems woefully inadequate – and unfair to Casas – meaning the 2023 lineup could be worse.

  • The Sox’ current collection of young major leaguers – especially with regard to pitching – doesn’t look remotely special

    BOSTON, MA - JULY 07: Josh Winckowski #73 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up a grand slam to Josh Donaldson #28 of the New York Yankees in the thread inning of a game at Fenway Park on July 7, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – JULY 07: Josh Winckowski #73 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up a grand slam to Josh Donaldson #28 of the New York Yankees in the thread inning of a game at Fenway Park on July 7, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    Do youngsters Josh Winckowski, Connor Seabold and Kutter Crawford look like big leaguers? Maybe, especially in the case of Crawford, whose cut fastball is the best weapon in their collective repertoires. Still, the Red Sox lack front end talent in this group and right-hander Brayan Bello clearly isn’t ready yet. Guys like Jarren Duran, Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero look like small-market players at best, and Bloom hasn’t really scored big on any trade so far. (Nick Pivetta is thew closest.) Fans can talk all they want about Marcelo Mayer (the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft) but he’s at least two years away.