Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Time to Fire Chili Davis

In the depths of Boston's pitching woes, back in early May, pitching coach Juan Nieves was fired. The reason was simple; Boston's pitching sucked at that point. Over the past month you could argue that Boston's pitching has improved overall, even if there are occasional hiccups in the starting rotation and bullpen. Wade Miley is a much better pitcher now than he was before Nieves was fired. Clay Buchholz is a much better pitcher now than he was before Nieves was fired. Even Joe Kelly is pitching better. Throw in the scintillating start to Eduardo Rodriguez's career (3 GS / 2-0 / 0.44 ERA / 0.73 WHIP) and you can see Boston's pitching turning a corner of sorts.

So why, in the name of all that is holy, does Boston management continue to tolerate the abysmal hitting and run production of this team?? Here's a fun fact: in 25% of Boston's games this year, they have scored one run or less. Which is why they are near the AL basement in runs this year (currently 12th). If you aren't scoring runs, you aren't winning games. As evidenced by Boston wasting a sterling performance from Eduardo Rodriguez last night in a 1-0 loss in Baltimore.

What makes it even worse is that hitting was supposed to be the strength of the 2015 Red Sox. Ben Cherington was right in identifying offense as being hard to find. What you can question is whether the 200M or so Boston spent on solving this problem was spent well. I was all on board with Sandoval, and I still am. I think he can play better and will do so. Ramirez...I was always shaky on him. His attitude was the red flag and I think his play in left (or lack thereof) justifies that concern. If he can't play left, and you aren't going to sit Ortiz, then what do you do with him?

But that is secondary to the fact that Boston's hitting has just sucked. There are only two starters right now who I think are pulling their weight at the plate. That would be Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts. Pedroia is third in WAR at his position in the AL (2.2 WAR) while Bogaerts (1.7 WAR) trails only one-time Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias at their position. If Brock Holt keeps playing he'll qualify with enough at-bats and you can throw him in there as well. Frankly, they should be making room for him to be a regular now based on his performance to-date.

But besides those three guys? It's been damned disappointing. Rookies like Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo aren't hitting at all. Pablo Sandoval has a .651 OPS. Mike Napoli and David Ortiz both have batting averages approaching the Mendoza Line. And any hitting Hanley Ramirez has given Boston is more than cancelled out by his horrible fielding.

So why is Chili Davis getting a pass? I have nothing against the guy. But if Boston brass is going to fire Nieves a month into the season, Davis should be getting the boot based on Boston's offensive performance to date. Because make no mistakes, this is why Boston's season is going down the drain. If you cannot score more than one run in 1/4th of your games, you are going to suck.

If John Henry was thinking straight, he'd be giving Cherington a stern talking-to as well. Because while Ben has been good at identifying problems and weaknesses, his track record in addressing said problems and weaknesses has been hit-and-miss.

John Farrell shouldn't get off without mention in this debacle either. Yes, he guided Boston to a World Series title in 2013 and that should not be ignored. But since then, Boston's record is 98-123. That's not good in any sense of the word.

But Cherington isn't going anywhere right now and neither is Farrell. And hitting is the glaring, obvious weakness right now. That falls on Davis' shoulders. And it's time for him to go.

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