Archive for July, 2015

As a friend said in his best Lord of The Rings voice, “And so it begins.”

We begin with the Scott Kazmir deal.  Sure, Houston gets a lefty starter for the Dog Days.  Well done (so, too, the entire season to date).  Mr. Kazmir is strictly a rental as he walks into free agency at the end of the year.  The A’s acquire Jacob Nottingham, 20, catcher, first base, dh and currently enjoying the wind blown benefits of A+ ball in Lancaster, CA.  In 621 lifetime abs, he has 44 doubles, 20 dingers and 108 rbi along with a .352 obp.  His cumulative toss rate as a catcher is an impressive 37%.  Along for the ride into the Oakland system is Daniel Mengden.  Mr. Mengden is a righty starter, 22 and did not enjoy the Lancaster environs that benefited Mr. Nottingham, for the wind blows forever in Lancaster, especially for pitchers.  The most impressive statistic Mr.Mengden brings to Oakland’s A+ team is his 2.4 bb per 9 ip.  Downright stingy.  Well done on behalf of both Houston and Oakland.

Aramis Ramirez returning to Pittsburgh perhaps offers the chance to end at the beginning.  The homeruns don’t come as easy these days for Mr. Ramirez, but he is sorely needed in Pittsburgh given the injuries to Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer.  While the aforementioned long balls have been reduced, Mr. Ramirez’s glove has improved with age.  A mere 7 kicks in ’13, 12 in ’14 and 5 to date in ’15.  In exchange, the Brewers make the weird choice of Yonathan Barrios who was originally drafted as a third baseman/shortstop.  However, that journey ended with the 2012 season, as Mr. Barrios traveled to the bullpen to develop as a closer.  Said journey has not been easy as per his sky high 3.6 bb per 9 ip.  Not good.  Advantage, Pirates.

Conner Gillapsie to the Angels for cash is simply a move to allow Angels management to say, “Look!  A major league baseball player at third base!”  Next.

Steven Cishek to St. Louis is a quality move.  Mr. Cishek, prior to this year, had above average seasons (in ’13 he had 34 saves and in ’14 he saved 39 games).  This year, he participated well in the Miami debacle which is 2015.  Everything with Mr. Cishek went south of Miami.  However, if a pitcher is ever to find his former self, St. Louis is the place to do so.  In return, the Fish choose Kyle Barraclough, 25 in AA ball.  Mr. Barraclough suffers from promotion-itis, i.e., as soon as he arrives at the next level of minor league ball, struggle ensues for quite sometime, but he does recover.  Even in light of a cumulative 2.83/1.38 (which is a tad high for whip), not much excitement is generated.  Advantage, St. Louis.  No surprise.

Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson should provide at least some punch on behalf of Mets’ baserunners.  Sadly, Mr. Uribe is a downright liability at third.  In 37 games at third base for Atlanta, he has committed 6 errors.  Mr. Johnson has become a true utility man as he can play either infield corner or left field without committing harm.  As for those received from the Mets, Rob Whalen is the better of the two.  Mr. Whalen, currently in A+ ball, sports a cumulative record of 16-9 with a 2.43/1.08 era/whip in 226 innings pitched.  The other starting pitcher is John Gant.  Mr. Gant is struggling this year in AA ball (4.70/1.57 and an unforgivable 3.9 bb per 9 ip.   Yuck).  But, prior to this year, he did well at A+ and below.  Immediate advantage goes to the Mets while the long run advantage falls to the Braves.

The most interesting trade to date (7/27/15) is the Johnny Cueto deal for not one, not two, but three left-handed pitchers.  Mr. Cueto is getting better with age.  Since 2011, he has posted an era of less than 2.85.  His cumulative whip of 1.17 is equally impressive.  Also impressive is the fact that he is a free agent at season’s end.  If Mr. Cueto delivers in K.C., he will be a very rich man sometime this winter.  As for the three lefties acquired by the Reds, Brandon Finnegan most likely gets a look as a set-up man for the reminder of the season.  However, his 4.8 bb per 9 is a major concern.  John Lamb is in year two at AAA.  Raised the old fashioned way.  Mr. Lamb is a great candidate for an early August arrival in the Queen City as a number four or number five stater.  Let him receive his bumps and bruises, thus give him a chance to arrive in spring of next year as a viable candidate for the backend of the rotation.  Cody Reed dominated A+ ball earlier this year.  Now at AA, he is merely above average.  His cumulative 2.5 bb per 9 gives cause for hope a couple of years from now.  As with the Uribe/Johnson deal, both clubs win.  Special kudos to the Cincinnati scouts for identifying the above mentioned lefties.

At last, Troy Tulowitzki exits Colorado.  While most mavens focus on his bat, I love the glove.  A lifetime fielding percentage for a shortstop of .985 is a sight to behold..  Mr. Tulowitzki does has a well established pattern of healthy-hurt dating back to 2007, but when healthy, he is productive.  Plus, he belongs to Toronto through 2020.  As a substantial bonus, LaTroy Hawkins, oh, ageless wonder, also joins the Jays.  Granted, Mr. Hawkins will not log 80+ innings out of the bullpen anytime soon, but he brings a wealth of knowledge to settle a crumbling sixth inning or lessen damage during the seventh inning.  As for the four sent to the Rockies, Jose Reyes is past his prime and a definite defensive downgrade compared to Mr. Tulowitzki.  Mr. Reyes was one of the best during his days as a Met.  Rededication is required.  Miguel Castro has no business pitching in the major leagues, yet.  He skipped AA ball, had an awful time in AAA, so what do the Blue Jays do?  Promote him to Toronto.  Moronic.  Jeff Hoffman is quite a steal for Colorado.  Mr. Hoffman was the Jays #1 2015 draft selection.  Of course, where does Toronto place Mr. Hoffman to begin his development?  A+ ball.  Then, within the span of less than two months, he is promoted to AA.  Rush, rush.  That perilous path should stop within the Colorado organization.  Finally, Jesus Tinoco in A ball (where he belongs) is in year four of development.  A 20 year old with average numbers as a starter.  While bad player development is exposed in Toronto, the advantage is all Blue Jays.

Tyler Clippard makes the Mets bullpen a better place.  His lifetime era/whip of 2.87/1.09 overrides his sky high 3.7 bb per 9.  The 10 k’s per 9 helps as well.  On the other side, the A’s scouted wisely when selecting Casey Meisner.  20 years old, in his third year, currently at A+ he is trending well with a 2.83 era and 1.40 whip (he began the season in A ball with even better numbers).  I predict a 2017 arrival in Oakland.  Both squads do equally well.

The Royals add Ben Zobrist to their trade booty.  Mr. Zobrist (another rental given his free agency status at year’s end) brings a healthy lifetime .354 obp.  Between 2009-2014, he has logged 500 to 600+ ab each season.  A dirt dog.  A brief note to those of you who do not understand Billy Beane’s trades of Mr. Zobrist and Mr. Kazmir, understand that as of the first day of August, the A’s do not offer lockers to impending free agents.  Move, they must.  The two acquired in return are somewhat marginal.  Aaron Brooks is the best of the two.  Mr. Brooks is 25 and has enjoyed the last two seasons at AAA.  His cumulative minor league era is a disappointing 4.21, yet balanced with a stingy whip of 1.29.  The time has arrived for Mr. Brooks to discover if he should rent a place in Oakland.  The other pitcher is Sean Manaea, 23, split time between A+ and AA this season to no cheer.  A rough 3.8 bb per 9 is ignored due to his 10.9 k per 9.  I find the 3.8 a bit more telling.  Advantage goes to K.C.

Golf claps to Bill Stoneman.  Acquiring three outfielders to patrol left field while providing quality late inning help is above and beyond the capability of most g.m.’s and especially a part-time g.m.  Shane Victorino (for Josh Rutledge), David Murphy (for Eric Stamets.  Why did Cleveland scouts zero in on this guy?) and David DeJesus (for Eduar Lopez.  See the Cleveland comment and lay it at the feet of Tampa scouts).  All three gentlemen have post-season experience and the view of a veteran.  Advantage Angels.

The Nats counter the Mets Clippard move with the acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon.  Love him, hate him, mimic him, the man can close.  Nick Pivetta is a typical bad choice by a badly run baseball team.  Nick Pivetta posted a 7.20 era and 1.87 whip in AA ball this year.  Oh yeah, and he topped off that sterling set of numbers with 5.4 bb per 9.  The Phillies are a horrible franchise.

A crazy day (7/30) with one remaining.

Toronto scores, again.  David Price improves the starting staff and then some.  Pure quality.  Detroit made two poor choices.  Daniel Norris is vastly overrated.  Sure he’s lefty starter, but his stay in Detroit will be brief until he solves his 3.8 bb per 9.  And, if you thought that was bad, try contestant number two, Jairo LaBourt who walks almost 5 batters per 9.  Boo, Detroit.  The other pitcher is quite good.  Matt Boyd in three years of minor league ball (’15 is A+ ball), he has posted a 2.50/0.99 line to go with a bb/k per 9 line of 2.0/9.2.  One to watch.  Advantage Blue Jays.

Cole Hamels finally gets out of Dodge.  Say what you will about Mr. Hamels, but he has thrown 200+ innings six years, sports a whip of sub 1.2 since 2010 and Texas has him until 2018.  Jake Diekman came along for the ride.  Matt Harrison now gets to enjoy the dysfunction of the Phillies.  He’s been hurt since 2013, so who knows?  Entering the Phillies nightmare of a development system is Jorge Alfaro (solid offensive numbers.  Philly bound in 2016 most likely as a catcher), Nick Williams (left fielder, lefty bat with pop.  Probably Alfaro’s roommate), Jake Thompson (rhp) struggled in 2015, but his three years prior were very good as a starter, Alec Asher (another righty starter) who will see August/September starts in Philly (he’s ready having posted solid numbers for four years in the minors including AAA this year) and Jerad Eickhoff (righty starter number three who also has above average cumulative minor league numbers in five years).  Advantage Texas because when you land a quality left-handed starter who is not a rental, you win.   However, I want to applaud the Philly scouts in their combing of the Texas minor league system.

Brandon Moss to St. Louis is unspectacular, but well done.  This year, Mr. Moss has been awful, but between 2012 to 2014, he hit  21, 30 and 25 dingers respectively.  St. Louis can keep him through next season as well.  Rob Kaminsky receives rave reviews and rightfully so.  Three years in the St. Louis system has resulted in 2.15 era, 1.12 whip in 217.1 ip.  Cleveland awaits in 2017.  Advantage Cleveland.

And now for the Dodgers who went, as a friend says, bat shit crazy.

Mat Latos was having a pathetic year in Miami.  He’s free now.  Look for the Cincinnati version of Mr. Latos to appear in L.A.  Mike Morse is a solid addition on the offensive side.  The more Mr. Morse plays, the better the result, but that might be a tough gig to find in the L.A. outfield.  In return, Jeff Brigham (a right-handed starter with deplorable numbers.  Why, Miami, why?), Victor Araujo (sixth year, 22 years old, a high era of 4.30, but the 1.19 whip and 2.5 bb/9.2 k’s per 9 suggest a bright future and possibly a closer) and Kevin Guzman (20, year three in the minors, progressing nicely as a starter).  Advantage L.A.

After, Mr. Latos, the Dodgers get really aggressive and land Alex Wood (not even touching the surface of his substantial potential), Jim Johnson (2.25/1.23 in 49 games this year), the durable Luis Avilan (lefty reliever, L.A. bound until 2019, featuring a 3.58/1.20 line in 50 games with the Braves) and just for fun, the ancient Bronson Arroyo (sure the salad days are long gone, but if you need a number five starter or a guy to throw on Tuesday, Bronson’s your man).  Wait!  The Dodgers also score Jose Peraza (21 year old second baseman) who has posted a five year total of .303/.344 in the Atlanta system.  Moving to Atlanta (I mean find a place to live close to the ball park) is the much ballyhooed Hector Olivera who was ripping up both AA and AAA pitchers to date.  He’s 30 and not getting any younger.  If Paco Rodriguez can return to health, the Braves score a quality lefty reliever.  I guess Zach Bird knows somebody of influence in the Braves organization.  Otherwise, why did they choose Mr. Bird?  Awful numbers.  Advantage, you guessed correctly, L.A.

We will see what the final day brings.  Stay tuned.

The usual blizzard at the finish.  Here goes:

Joakim Soria to the Pirates is a great move.  Scoring runs in the eighth and ninth against Pittsburgh will be a tough trick.  Jacoby Jones in return has power capability, but overall reads blah.  Advantage Pittsburgh.

Mike Leake to the Giants might just be enough of a push to keep Bochy’s brains in front of Mattingly’s line up.  Mr. Leake’s best years are ahead of him.  In route to Cincinnati’s system is Keury Mella who has travelled well in four years.  A righty starter, 21, at A+ ball.  One to watch.  Adam Duvall, 26, should receive late summer at bats in Cincinnati.  He plays the infield corners and has hit 20+ home runs each season over a five year stretch.  Give him a shot.  Advantage Giants.

A why-did-you-make-this-deal goes to Houston.  Carlos Gomez is average to overrated.  Mike Fiers has never thrown more than 128 innings as a starter.  Again, why did the Astros make this deal?  Body acquisition?  Who knows.  How Milwaukee pulled away four breathing ball players for Mr. Gomez and Mr. Fiers is a mystery.  The best of the lot is Brett Phillips, 21, center fielder, split time in ’15 between A+ (.320/.379) and AA (.321/.377)  Definitely Mr. Gomez’s replacement.  Domingo Santana has posted impressive power numbers during seven years in the minors.  A guy looking for at bats.  Josh Hader, lefty starter, reads well until the lifetime 3.9 bb per 9.  Adrain Houser, righty starter, is average at best.  Advantage Milwaukee.

Finally, the Yankees get involved, but create nothing more than a shoulder shrug. Dustin Ackley continues a downhill slide.  Awful batting average and worse obp.  Ramon Flores had a cup of coffee in the Bronx.  A left fielder with a healthy minor league obp looking for extended opportunity.  Jose Ramirez missed all of ’14.  Converted to a closer this year.  Advantage neither team.

Jonathan Broxton was a bad fit in Milwaukee.  St. Louis is a great place for pitchers.  Malik Cullymore is 20 completing his third year (!) in rookie ball.  He has bad-good-bad pattern.  A poor choice by Milwaukee.  Advantage St. Louis (what else is new).

Baltimore lands Gerardo Parra.  I’m a fan.  Mr. Parra plays his butt off and is good for the clubhouse.  Zach Davies goes to Milwaukee.  Mr. Davies weighs all of 150 pounds, yet in AAA this year he posted 5-6/2.84/1.22 in 101.1 ip.  Still, find a burger joint and move in.  Advantage Birds.

I have no idea as to how Seattle landed three guys in return for Mike Lowe.  Mr. Lowe posted stellar ’15 numbers.  In 34 games, he registered a 1.00/1.17 line (a lower era than whip is a tough trick).  In return, Toronto offered Jake Brentz (third year in rookie ball because he can’t pitch), Nick Wells (who is not much better than Mr. Brentz) and Rob Rasmussen (averages 4.3 bb per 9 in 2015).  Advantage Toronto because they dumped three slow developing (if developing at all) minor leaguers.

Ben Revere to Toronto allows the Jays to have a top-notch center fielder at least through 2018.  Well done.  Much like the Lowe deal, Toronto relieved themselves of two sub-par minor leaguers, Jimmy Cordero and Alberto Tirado.  Both gentlemen walk far too many batters.  Advantage Toronto, but this time because of the player acquired.

Dan Haren is 34?  I thought he was 40.  A great guy for the #4 or #5 starter slot.  A surprise move by the Cubs.  Ivan Pineyro is progressing nicely.  Year five at the age of 23.  A righty starter in AA ball.  Elliot Soto lost his way in 2014 in AAA, but has since recovered in AA.  A 25 year old shortstop who must have a good spring if he wants to continue as a prospect.  Advantage Cubs.

Speaking of the Cubs, a tale of caution called Junior Lake.  Prodigal son in 2013, disappointment in 2014 and what’s his face in 2015.  Tommy Hunter bound for Chicago will help the ‘pen as much as Mr. Haren helps the starting rotation.  Advantage Cubs.

J.A. Happ to the Pirates.  Hmm.  Other than his lefty starter status, I’m not sure why the Pirates made this deal.  Adrian Sampson in year four, AAA this year posted 8-8, 3.98/1.34 heading towards yawn status, but then the 2.1 bb per 9 shows.  Nice job Seattle scouts.  Advantage Seattle.

The wildly overrated Yoenis Cespedes heads to the Mets.  Yes, he can belt the ball far and wide, but at the expense of far too many k’s.  The Tigers score with Michael Fulmer.  A 22 year old righty starter with a 2015 AA line of 1.88/1.12 in 86 ip allowing a paltry 2.4 bb per 9 and striking out 8.7 per 9.  Nice.  Joining Mr. Fulmer is Luis Cessa who suffers from promotion-itis, but once the flak of that disease disappears, a nice job of scouting by Detroit.  Advantage Tigers (unless the Mets get to the NLCS, then my fault).

Finally, Michael Morse is a Dodger for less than a day.  He’s Pittsburgh bound.  If the Pirates play him, he will hit.  If not, prepare for bad attempts at pinch hitting.  In return, the multi-talented Jose Tabata leaves a team jammed with outfielders to join another team jammed with outfielders.  Advantage Pittsburgh.

And thus ends the 2015 trade season.  Enjoy the dog days of August and September.  May your team do well, but not as well as mine.

 

 

 

San Diego makes all the right off-season moves, and the result is nothing of note in the first half, less firing Bud Black.

Catching:  Norris provides power (11/45), but a notoriously poor obp (.288).

First:  Alonso needs to stay healthy if the Pads make a wild card run (I’m choosing to assume finishing first is out of the question).  His .302/.391 is impressive and sorely needed in the Pads line-up.

Second:  Gyorko demoted will hopefully lead to Gyorko productive.  Spangenberg’s injury gives Jed another shot.  In 29 fewer at-bats, Gyorko (.292/.338) is much more the hitter than Spangenberg (.254/.304).

Third:  If Middlebrooks ever becomes a .250 hitter, rejoice.  But, I doubt the possibility.  9 dingers and 28 rbi in 240 ab is not what the Padres had in mind.  This position remains a weak point that needs to be addressed if the Padres want to make a strong finish.

Short:  Amarista is as weak as Middlebrooks.  Very little offense to offer.  While solid defensively, his offense (.212/.281) may not be worth the glove.

Left:  Justin Upton has been as advertised.  14/46 in 310 ab bodes well for the entire year.  More Padres should join him.

Center:  Venable by default due to Myers’ injury is part of the first half disappointment.  Venable is a fourth outfielder, not a starter.  Another weak point that needs to be addressed by the end of July.

Right:  Kemp is not a leadoff guy (simple advice to Mr. Murphy).  44 rbi is an impressive first half stat, but the 6 home runs are a tad to the short side.

Starting Pitching:  Shields, much like Justin Upton, is as advertised.  Worth the money.  Ross, Cashner, Despaigne and Kennedy offer enough talent, but, less Ross, the era has to head south (4.06, 4.75 and 4.84) respectively.

Bullpen:  Kimbrel, Maurer and Benoit have been good to awesome.  Maurer with a sub-two era and sub-one whip is fantastic.  Benoit (2.25/0.81) is no less impressive.  Kelly is developing well and should offer some relief (no pun intended) regarding Thayer’s trip to the d.l.  Many baseball mavens criticize the Padres bullpen, but I disagree.  These guys are a quality group.

Second Half Prediction:  Acquire a third baseman who can hit and centerfielder.  Another starting pitcher to follow Ross would be swell.  That may be enough to make take the wild card.

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Arte’s boys continue to disappoint.  DiPoto exits.  On one hand, who can blame him?  But, I do lose patience with the overemphasis on saber metrics.  Strangely, Aaron, Mays, Van Slyke (Andy, not Scott), Robinson (both of them), Trammel and Whitaker all did fine defensively by paying attention to detail without the benefit of statistical reports as to where the ball might land if the pitcher hits his spot and does not shake off the catcher.

Catcher: Between Iannetta and Perez, not much offense.  They combined for 8 doubles, 6 home runs and 30 rbi as of 7/7/15.  Anemic.  Though, they both call a good game.  If offensive weakness must reside, find that weakness at catcher or shortstop.

First.  Pujols is back with a vengeance.  26/56 is overdue.  Better late than never.

Second:  Giavotella is inconsistent at the plate, but give him the ab.  32 rbi in 271 ab is enough to notice.

Third:  Freese took forever to get started, but 10/36 given that horrible start hopefully carries into the second half.

Short:  If Aybar hits above .270 and raises his obp to .320 by the end of the year, Angel fans rejoice.

Left:  I will group the disappointing Matt Joyce (how much longer until he is released or demoted?  C’mon, people.  He’s a bust), Navarro and Robertson.  The latter two splitting time is much more attractive than Joyce taking away another 217 ab for no apparent reason.  Help wanted at the seven spot.

Center:  Lord Trout remains the best baseball player on the planet.

Right:  Calhoun registering 9/46 is necessary or else all the Angels consistently register on offense is Trout and Pujols.

DH:  Cron needs to play on Sunday’s only.

Starting Pitching:  Weaver, though currently on the d.l., is amazing.  How he has four wins is beyond understanding.  A whip of 1.24 is testimony to a pitcher who can think his way through a lineup regardless of diminishing ability.  Santiago (2.40/1.09) is this year’s Shoemaker.  Wilson and Richards must continue first half success into the Dog Days or else the Angels finish third or worse.  If Heaney realizes his substantial talent, the Angels have much less concern.

Bullpen:  Street (2.34/0.89), Smith (2.80/1.08), Ramos (1.88/1.25) and Gott (1.80/0.80) allow Scioscia to sleep at night and might allow him to keep his job. Alvarez and Salas, while posting higher era than their ‘pen mates, have just as impressive whip numbers (1.07 and 1.15 respectively).

Second Half Prediction:  A lot to solve on the offensive side.  DH, left and catching need significant upgrades.  But, Arte owes most people and their brothers a lot of salary until 2035 or thereabout (a fellow living in Texas comes to mind).  Scioscia finally loses his job at season’s end and moves to Philly.  Sorry, Anaheim.

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Why do the Dodgers keep winning?  Six of eight hitters with the most at-bats have obp ranging from .348 to .390.  These guys get on base and score runs.  Also, having Greinke and Kershaw is certainly helpful.

Catcher:  Grandal is more than adequate.  Anybody who keeps Ellis on the bench is doing a fine job.

First:  As Gonzalez gets older, he gets downright cranky, but can he hit.

Second:  Kendrick’s first half power numbers of 7/37 is a distant dream for most second basemen.

Third:  Turner hitting 11 home runs, driving in 38 and hitting an amazing .314/.384 is why we watch baseball.

Short:  The only true bust is Rollins.  Better off with another player at this spot.

Left:  Van Slyke pieced together an acceptable showing of 8 doubles, 4 homers and 18 rbi in 110 ab.

Center:  Pederson is the solo home run king.  His batting average has sunk to .230, but his bop is .368.  20/39 for rookie power numbers is eye-catching.

Right:  Ethier plays and Ethier does not make the L.A. Times bitch and moan section.

Special Mention:  Puig may be trade bait come late-July.  Given Guerrero’s solid bench play (10/30 was not expected) and the return of Crawford, the Dodgers are deep in the outfield.  Dangling Puig to the right team could result in a significant return.  We shall see.

Starting Pitching:  As mentioned above, Greinke (who should have a dozen wins, if he received any run support) and Kershaw are a superb one-two.  However, Anderson (5-5, 3.12/1.31) and Bolsinger (4-3, 3.09/1.28) deserve praise.  Without these two, the Dodgers are a third place team in a weak division.

Bullpen:  Jansen, Gracia, Howell (especially) and Liberatore are fantastic, yet do not receive enough recognition regarding the Dodgers’ success.  Nicasio and Baez aren’t bad either.

Second Half Prediction:  The Dodgers do not sit still.  Deals will be made.  Look for a new shortstop and a couple of starters as of 7/31, if not sooner.

 

The easy subtitle is “Why Are We Awful?”.

Catching:  Other than Hanigan’s .378 obp, he and his soul mates, Swihart and Leon, are largely unproductive with bats in hand.  The three have a combined 11 doubles, 2 homeruns and a whopping 22 rbi (as of 7/7/15).  A below average trio.  Perhaps Christian Vasquez is near health.

First:  Napoli must go.  I was hopeful that after the Angels’ series, he would remain hot, alas, not so much.  The .192 batting average is indicative of a man who can’t hit a mlb fastball.  Time to move on at the end July.  Thanks for the beard and memories.  Daniel Nava and Travis Shaw can share the spot and offer twice the production of Mike.

Second:  Pedroia reaching 281 ab before landing on the dl is true dirt dog.  .306/.367.  Sounds good.  Return as soon as possible.

Third:  Sandoval’s numbers (.270/.313) are awful.  And all that money in exchange.  7 homers and 29 rbis is as woeful as his ba/obp.  Time to play ball in the second half.  Stay off your phone during game time.

Short:  Bogaerts driving in 40 by and large courtesy of his 19 doubles is a tribute to the patience of Farrell and Cherington.  Change nothing.

Left:  Hanley Ramirez plays the ugliest outfield since his namesake Manny and Jonny Gomes.  Wince, close both eyes, pray.  But, 18 homers and 43 rbis make for a lot of understanding.

Center:  Mookie, oh, Mookie.  You and Xander must stay forever.  The future is bright up the middle.

Right:  I’m lumping Victorino, De Aza (initially, I despised the acquisition, but .317/.364 convinces me otherwise) and Castillo as proof that Ben does not have a well thought plan in right field.  Shane complains when he does not play.  Castillo is an underachiever to date.  Trade Shane to lessen the moan and groan.

DH:  Ortiz hitting .226 is as glaring as Napoli’s .192.  But, with 14/41 in the power category, I trust David will enjoy the true heat of summer and warm his bat.

Special Mention:  Brock Holt.  Enjoy the All-Star game.  May your second half be your first half.

Starting Pitching:  Since dismissing Nieves, the starters have improved.  Granted, Porcello seems to be as much a bust as Kelly, but I’m hopeful one of the two can return to form in August/September.  Buchholz is enjoying a lot more than simple consistency.  He is one of the better A.L. pitchers the last four weeks.  Rodriguez is a welcome addition.  Any lefty who can throw strikes is the same as finding a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk.  Smile.  If Masterson remains healthy, at the very least, he should eat 100 innings in the second half.  Miley needs to reduce the walks, thus his whip (1.44.  Far too high for an effective starter).

Bullpen:  Uehara, Tazawa, Ogando and Layne need company.  Ross and Hembree have disappointed.  Breslow may be less of a puzzle to the opposition.  Steven Wright needs more innings.  Just ask Wakefield.

Second Half Prediction:  The A.L. East is awful this year.  Remember the ice cream falling off the cone.  Landing with a plop in the dirt.  That’s the A.L. East . . . and the Red Sox.  If Ben can solve first base and right field as well as land a #2 or #3 starter plus one more proven arm for the seventh/eighth inning, the Sox can make a run because Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and the Evil Empire aren’t any better.