Mazz: Three early-season observations on the Red Sox
Apr 10, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo (99) and center fielder Enrique Hernandez (5) and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (19) celebrate the victory after the ninth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
One week in the books, six games scratched off the schedule, no final determinations to be made. But if you’re looking for a few initial observations after the Red Sox’ first six games of the 2022 season, here they are:
Right field is an area of concern
Apr 10, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Christian Arroyo (39) catches a fly ball hit by New York Yankees catcher Jose Trevino (39) (not pictured) during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
When the Red Sox traded Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee for Jackie Bradley and a pair of minor leaguers, the assumption was that Bradley would be a depth piece or that the Sox would find a legitimate right-handed-hitting complement for him. And while Bradley got his first hits of the season in Wednesday’s win, the Sox rank 26th in OPS at the position (14th in the AL) and Christian Arroyo (not his fault) has had trouble in right field.
Apr 13, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; (Left to right) Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Hansel Robles (57) right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (19) and center fielder Enrique Hernandez (5) celebrate together after the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
(Before we go on … can someone explain what happened with the Sox pursuit of Seiya Suzuki, who is off to a roaring start with the Chicago Cubs?)
In the short term and the long, it already feels like the Sox need to make a move here. Maybe Rob Refsnyder has to come up from Worcester to play right field against lefties. Maybe chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has to make a trade earlier than he’d like. In the interim, the Sox should play Bradley as much as possible because the defense without him simply isn’t good enough.
The middle of the infield hasn’t exactly been dynamic
Apr 9, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Yes, Xander Bogaerts started the season with a three-hit game, but he strained a hamstring (or something) in his final at-bat of the game and has since gone 2-for-14 with five strikeouts and no extra-base hits. (He hasn’t looked right.) Meanwhile, Trevor Story missed some games with an illness and is just 3-for-14 with three strikeouts on the season. None of his three hits has been particularly well struck.
Apr 8, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story (10) makes the throw to first for an out during the first inning against New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports
YES, WE KNOW … IT’S EARLY.
For what it’s worth, April is historically Story’s worth month, though it also worth noting that he hit .234 against right-handers over the entirety of last season. (He looks especially vulnerable to pitches away.)
We’ve seen enough of Bogaerts over the years to know what he is when healthy, but this all bears watching. Story is undergoing major transitions. Bogaerts is in what amounts to a contract year. Pay close attention as the year goes on.
The pitchers, especially the starters, are giving up too many home runs
Yankee fans go crazy on Anthony Rizzo 2-run shot against the Red Sox during opening day action at Yankee Stadium April 8, 2022. Yankees Opening Day
Last year, after all but delivering room service to opposing hitters, Red Sox starters allowed just 106 home runs, tied with Tampa Bay for fewest in the American League. Meanwhile, their relievers allowed just 70, tied with the Chicago White Sox for second fewest. So far this season, the Sox have allowed nine homers in six games, a pace that would produce 243 home runs, well over the staff total (and league low) of 176 last season.
Apr 13, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
So far, the worst culprit has been Nathan Eovaldi, who has served up four homers in two starts. Until baseball changes some of the rules next year, home runs are likely to decide the majority of games. The Sox have hit just five while allowing nine, and there is every chance those numbers will flip as the Boston offense continues to awaken.
But while the good homers are likely to come, their value gets diminished if the Sox keep serving meatballs to the opposition.