Highest WPA: David Ortiz, .255 (3-3, BB, R)
Lowest WPA: Daniel Nava, -.210 (0-3, K, GIDP, 1 LOB)
This isn’t how it’s supposed to go. The Red Sox got a good starting pitching performance (at least by the final line; Clay Buchholz was hardly dominant, but he somehow only let in two runs in six innings, so he earns a pass today), but the offense couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. They only had seven hits, and six of them came from two men. That’s not going to get it done, no matter how good or bad your starters are. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon will bring a better offensive showing behind Rick Porcello.
(The Red Sox’ starters are still bad. Just pointing that out.)
ALLEN CRAIG WATCH: Allen Craig, whose big contract the penny-pinching Red Sox were happy to take on because they didn’t want to have John Lackey under contract for the league minimum salary, is now 1-15 on the season. He was used as a pinch hitter for Ryan Hanigan today, which is one of those decisions that makes sense if and only if your manager is trying to lose.
Highest WPA: Xander Bogaerts, .259 (2-4, R, RBI, walkoff)
Lowest WPA: Daniel Nava, -.076 (0-1, sacrifice bunt that technically hurt even though it worked out)
Is there a story to this game? Joe Kelly pitched well, until he didn’t. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched well, until he got himself tossed. Ryan Hanigan hit a homer, which is nice. Nobody else really did anything. Buck Showalter even went to his closer, eventually, and got punished for it. Because the universe is cruel, I guess.
But hey, if we’re going to benefit from the universe cruelly punishing managers making good tactical decisions, I’m totally on board with that. The Red Sox are now 7-3 despite having approximately one and a half good starting pitchers, so that’s nice. Unfortunately, Clay Buchholz is pitching tomorrow.
I guess my first question, since this news will be a day old by the time you probably read this (all one of you) and it would therefore read better as an op-ed, is “why?” Because, like, what?
I mean, let’s go over the facts here. Sure, Chiarelli seemed to hate teams that scored goals. So much so that he traded a young, cost controlled guy in a salary cap league (more on that a little later) for no apparent reason other than because his approach to the game was “score goals.” What the heck, dude? But the team won underneath him. This is the first time the team missed the postseason since the first year after the last lockout, when they were undergoing a rebuild to adapt to the new salary format after said lockout and make it all better. In that time they reached the finals twice and actually won their first cup since the 1970s, which I’m guessing is a period a good 70% of the current fanbase can’t even remember. He signed Zdeno Chara, tied up important dudes like David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron for the long term, and repeatedly ripped off the Maple Leafs in hilarious fashion. Not really a tenure I’m going to look back on altogether unfondly.
There is the team’s frustrating, anal-retentive obsession with “defensive hockey” that persisted through most of his term. I’ll admit that when things were going good, defensive hockey seemed nice. When things were bad, well, the Bruins’ failure to put anything in the damn net and general wasting of every opportunity they got to do so seemed like the most frustrating on the face of the earth. The Seguin trade is the capstone of this. Maybe he was traded because Charlie Jacobs is a senile old plutocrat horrified that The Young Folks don’t live by an absurd moral code that I’m sure even he and his contemporaries don’t follow. Or maybe he was traded because a good offensive player (you might even perhaps say one of the top ones, if you, I don’t know, looked at the league scoring race) because He Didn’t Fit Into Our System. Why the fuck was defense so important than the team couldn’t even consider inching towards a different style of hockey, at the expense of one of it’s brightest young talents? Who knows. Nowadays people toss around the term “outdated” to describe the Bruins play style, pointing to the Rangers team that won the President’s Trophy this year (remember that thing?) or the Canadiens team that outran the B’s all season long. I don’t know about outdated, but I think we could all agree that the Bruins needed a retooling. On the ice. Bad teams do bad and good teams do good, guys! How long is it going to take for some new guy to right the ship? Please don’t let that new guy be Mike Millbury. Oh God please.
I guess in the end you could just as well say that Chiarelli was an above-average general manager good at cycling talent in and out in a salary cap league where such an ability might in fact be the most important talent a GM can have. Sure he sucked at finding offense, but why fire a GM who got this team into the postseason almost every year that he was here? This was always vaguely pegged as a rebuilding year anyway. I don’t get it. Hopefully the Bruins aren’t about to nosedive over a cliff thanks to ownership meddling, management fads, and general incompetence. If they are, I hope to remember my parachute.
UPDATE: Damn, I forgot it. *SPLASH*
Highest WPA: Hmmm…maybe Hanley Ramirez? (1-4, HR, 2 RBI)
Lowest WPA: Wade Miley (2.2 IP, a bunch of baserunners, 7 ER)
When you get a terrible starting pitching performance, which is quickly becoming the norm for the 2015 Red Sox, you need two things to stay in the game: A potent offense, and a shutdown bullpen. The Sox have one of those, but couldn’t get the other. Anthony Varvaro soaked up more than his fair share, but Robbie Ross couldn’t keep the game close enough, and the result was a 10-5 loss that simultaneously felt closer than it was and also not that close.
Sportspun will have further details if he wants to. My final thought: Fenway Park is cool, and going there is fun. That is all.
Sportspun: Welp. I certainly can’t complain about a “win every series” season, but as much as I think Goog overstates an absolute need for an ace, the question marks of this rotation are tilting away from “5-good-starters-but-no-one-great staff” and toward “iffy guys plus Rick Porcello relying heavily on defense and luck.” And as good as the offense is, and as much as I love Anthony Varvaro… that’s a disturbing prospect.
Your WPA standouts:
Wade Miley, -.298 (2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 7 ER, K, HR)
Mike Napoli, .113 (1-3, 3B [yes, Goog got to see a Mike Napoli triple!] 2 R, 2 K, BB)
Highest WPA: Ryan Hanigan, .351 (1-4, RBI; happened to be batting when the Nats went to Hell)
Lowest WPA: Justin Masterson (4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 4 K, 3 BB)
That feels so much better to say than Edward Mujica, doesn’t it? If only we could say something nicer than “Justin Masterson is the Red Sox’ third starter.” Oh well. Tonight, amazingly, it didn’t matter! Between the bats keeping the game close and the Nationals deciding that they really, really didn’t want to see the Boston fans go home upset, the Red Sox were able to eke out a W despite their starter letting in seven runs.
You know, for all the talk about how it wouldn’t be “efficient” to sign good free agents or trade for goof players, nothing much has been said about the decision to give Masterson $9.5 million.
Then again…if you pay $22.5 million for a 4-WAR starter, you paid about $5.5 million per WAR. But by paying $9.5 million for a -1 WAR starter, you pay -$9.5 million per WAR! You’re literally printing money!!!!
(That was a joke. In case it wasn’t clear.)
I’m actually going to the game tomorrow afternoon, so Sportspun will have to handle the official business of posting the recap and insulting the starter and ridiculing the general manager. You know, the usual stuff.
Highest WPA: Mookie Betts, .270 (2-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB, 2 SB on one play)
Lowest WPA: Dustin Pedroia, -.026 (1-3, BB, RBI, 3 LOB)
After a humbling loss to a very unremarkable Yankee squad, the Red Sox could not have had their return to Fenway go much smoother than this. The Nationals are a World Series favorite thanks to that rotation, but Jordan Zimmermann really didn’t have it today – and his defense did him no favors.
Because scorekeeping is dumb, only one National error shows up in the official line, but with something approaching competent fielding this could have been a competitive game. Instead, the Sox had a home opener that seemed a guaranteed victory almost from the get-go. When even Sandy Leon is contributing at the plate, you know you’ve had a good day.
Oh, and making that good day better? Koji Uehara is active again, and Tommy Layne is in AAA where he belongs.
Highest WPA: Zelena Mills, .413 (came back from the presumed dead; swiped Robin Hood from Regina for now)
Lowest WPA: Belle French / Captain Hook, .000 (DNP)
Loved this episode. The reveal of Zelena as having swerved everyone was a bit of a stretch, but I’m willing to let it go because the character is so fantastic. Just gold, really. I loved the change of pace this week, too; rather than shove the (fairly bland, honestly) Queens of Darkness in, the writers just let Robin and Rumple and Zelena carry the load, and they did it wonderfully.
Special shoutout to Will Scarlet, too. I didn’t see a single solitary second of Wonderland, so I’m not at all sad that that show didn’t pan out, but the choice to bring him over to the main show (and leave everyone else behind, apparently) was a very good one. He was great tonight. He’s pretty much always great.
I wasn’t really in love with the first couple of episodes of this arc, but the show is picking up steam as we head toward the finale. It sucks that the season will be over in May, but…that’s TV.
Speaking of seasons that will be over in May (or, if you want to be generous, August), the Red Sox lost. Clay Buchholz isn’t the savior this rotation needs; if the past seven years of his career didn’t convince you of that, his atrocious outing tonight won’t, either. But hey, home opener tomorrow! Baseball is really happening, guys! Winter is over! No more snow! Really!