Heading into the unofficial second half of the season, the Red Sox are 58-39 with a winning percentage of .598, good for the best record in the American League and the most wins in the MLB. The Sox have a 2.5 game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, a 4.5 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles, and a six game lead over the Yankees, who enter the All-Star break in fourth or worse place for the first time since 1995.
With the Red Sox looking to continue their great start in the second half of the season, here’s your chance to grade each of the Sox on their pre-All-Star break performances.
Note: players with an * not on 25-man roster entering All-Star break. Next
The power key to the Red Sox offense this season has been undeniably David Ortiz. The 37-year-old DH seems to be aging like fine wine despite a serious Achilles’ tendon injury while running the bases last season. After the Red Sox gave Ortiz a two-year contract extension this past offseason, the slugger has been on a tear, hitting .317 with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs before the break.
After being limited to just 90 games in 2012, Ortiz’s recovery lasted through spring training and caused him to miss the first 15 games of the year, leading to speculation that his body had finally broke down on him. But Ortiz made his season debut on April 20, and has not looked back since. Some Ortiz highlights from this season include pumping up the crowd with his pregame speech on April 20, the first game at Fenway Park following the Boston Marathon bombings; his three-run, walk-off home run against the Rangers on June 6; his pinch-hit, two-run shot against the Angels on July 5; and collecting his 1,689th career hit against the Mariners on July 10, passing Harold Baines for most all-time by a DH.
In the offseason, with the Red Sox still not exactly sure what they wanted to do with their shortstop situation, they decided to sign a one-year rental deal with a player who had a familiar last name and number, but Boston hoped would produce different results. Stephen Drew, brother of former Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew, was projected to be the Red Sox’ opening day shortstop, but a concussion in spring training sidelined him for the first week of the regular season.
Drew made his season debut on April 10 and was more or less the Sox starting shortstop for the next two months, slowly raising his average and getting some timely hits. Drew has hit .233 with five home runs and 31 RBIs in 66 games with the Sox this season.
Some highlights of the first half include going 4-for-5 against the Twins on May 6, adding three RBIs and falling a triple short of the cycle; hitting his second career grand slam on May 15; and going 3-for-4 against the Indians on May 26, this time falling a home run short of the cycle.
He injured his hamstring on June 28 against the Blue Jays, and has been sidelined on the DL since, but the expectation is that he will return shortly following the All-Star break, inserted back in at shortstop with Jose Iglesias sliding over to third base.
With Stephen Drew on the DL with a hamstring injury and Will Middlebrooks sent down to Pawtucket to figure out his swing, the Red Sox called up Brock Holt to fill the gap during their most recent West Coast road trip. Starting his first game with Boston on July 7 against the Angels, Holt has showed consistency at the plate in his short time up in Boston, hitting .300 in nine games, scoring three runs and driving in eight runs while striking out just three times.
A highlight of his short time starting in Boston was going 2-for-4 with two RBIs in an 8-7 win against the Mariners on July 11. With Stephen Drew likely coming off the DL following the break, the Red Sox will have to decide what to do with Holt, who has shown for a short time what he can do when put in at the major league level.
One of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season so far has been the play of shortstop/third baseman Jose Iglesias. Always known as a great fielder, Iglesias’ biggest question was whether he could hit at the major league level because he had not been able to show any consistency in his previous call-ups. After starting the season with Boston, he was sent back to Pawtucket when Stephen Drew was reactivated and played with the PawSox until late May, when he was recalled back to Boston.
Since then, Iglesias has been one of the best hitters on the team, going 11-for-26 over the last eight games of May, and he hit .395 in June. Two 0-for-4 games just before the All-Star break saw his overall average drop from .384 to .367, but his offensive consistency has given the Red Sox no other option but to keep him in Boston.
On top of the great average, he also has 16 RBIs, has scored 26 runs, and has an on-base percentage of .417. Some highlights for Iglesias on the year include going 3-for-5 with an RBI in the season opener against the Yankees; a 13 game hitting streak from May 27 to June 9; and going 3-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored in a 10-6 victory in Detroit on June 21.
One of the biggest disappointments of the first half of 2013 has been Will Middlebrooks. After a great rookie season in which he hit .288 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 75 games, Middlebrooks came back in 2013 after a 2012 season-ending wrist injury with the Red Sox expecting him to be their power hitting third baseman of the future. He got off to a slow start the first week of the season, but had a career-day on April 7 against the Blue Jays, hitting three home runs in a 4-for-5 day, and it looked like he had figured things out.
Middlebrooks struggled for the rest of the month, however, hitting .194 in April. Things did not get much better in May, when he was unable to get his overall batting average over .213, and he went down with a back injury on May 23. After being activated on June 10, he played sparingly the rest of the month, getting just four hits in 29 at-bats before being sent down to Pawtucket on June 25, and he hasn’t played in Boston since.
After voiding his original three-year, $39 million contract when the Red Sox found a hip issue during his physical, the Sox renegotiated and signed Mike Napoli to a one-year, $5 million contract with bonus incentives. The catcher-turned-first baseman has had a very good year for the Red Sox, hitting fifth behind David Ortiz and is hitting .259 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs on the year.
However, he is also tied for the major league lead in strikeouts with 123.
The 31-year-old’s veteran presence has also had a great effect on the team that is currently 19 games over .500 and holding the best record in the American League. Some Napoli highlights include a four-RBI day on April 7 against Toronto; hitting a grand slam in a five-RBI game on April 22 against Oakland; a 3-for-4 performance, including two home runs and four RBIs, on May 1 against Toronto; and his second grand slam of the season, among a 3-for-5 day, in a 11-1 blowout win over the Yankees in New York.
Arguably the MVP of the Red Sox over the first half of 2013, Dustin Pedroia has been having one of the best seasons on his career. Leading the Red Sox on and off the field, the second baseman has hit .316 on the year with six home runs and 56 RBIs. Busting right out of the gate to start the season, Pedroia hit .336 over the first two months, and, despite his average falling 20 points, he has continued to perform on a night-in, night-out basis.
The numbers don’t reflect all that Pedroia means to this ballclub since there’s no stat for either enthusiasm or playing through injuries like a torn ligament in his hand. The 2008 AL MVP is right in the running for winning another, helping the Red Sox to their highest number of wins before the All-Star break ever. A few highlights from Pedroia’s year include a 14-game hitting streak from May 27 to June 10; a 3-for-5 day with four RBIs on June 25 against Colorado; a timely double play to save a run, followed by a game-winning hit against Oakland on July 12; and a total of nine 3-hit games this year. Pedroia was also named to his fourth All-Star game this season.
Brandon Snyder’s Red Sox career has been short, but it has already been noteworthy, in both positive and negative senses. After being called up from Pawtucket on June 25 after Stephen Drew was placed on the DL with a hamstring injury, Snyder has played in 10 games, hitting .250 with a home run and six RBIs. Some highlights of Snyder’s so far have been his 2-for-4 day on June 30 against Toronto, in which he hit a double and two RBIs; hitting a three-run double on July 2 against San Diego; and a home run on Independence Day to help the Sox to a 8-2 win over San Diego.
One major lowlight, however, happened in the Red Sox game against the Angels on July 6: while clinging to a 7-6 lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Snyder fielded a ball at third and threw to Pedroia at second for what should have been the final out of the game. Snyder sailed the throw into right field and the Angels scored the tying run, capping off a four-run rally with two outs to force extra innings. The Angels later won on a Josh Hamilton walk-off home run, and Snyder has not started a game for the Sox since, with Boston electing to go with Brock Holt at third base for the rest of its road trip before the All-Star break.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Touted as the Red Sox outfielder of the future, Jackie Bradley Jr. tore the cover off the ball throughout spring training, and the Sox had to make a tough decision on whether to start him up in the big leagues or down in Pawtucket. Bradley Jr. ended up staying up with Boston, and started his first career major league game in left field on opening day against the Yankees. The 23-year-old did not get a hit in that ballgame, but he walked three times and recorded his first major league RBI.
After David Ortiz returned to the Boston lineup in late April, Bradley Jr. was optioned back to Pawtucket where he could play every day, earning a short call up back to Boston in late May/early June. He spent the second half of June back in Pawtucket before his third stint in Boston began July 9, where he played four games before being sent back down yet again.
In his three trips to Boston this year, Bradley Jr. has hit just .155, but has two home runs and seven RBIs, with an on-base percentage of .258 and 11 runs scored. During Bradley’s time with the Red Sox, he had three straight games with an RBI from April 1 to April 4 to start his career; a 3-for-5 day with two doubles on June 1 against the Yankees; and hit his first career home run and added three RBIs on June 3 in a 17-5 pounding of the Rangers.
After joining the Red Sox following a spring training stint with the Seattle Mariners, Mike Carp has performed very well for what the Red Sox expected out of the utility outfielder/first baseman. Carp has played in 52 games before the All-Star break, and has hit .303 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 132 at-bats. Carp has also provided a good spark off the bench, showing he can come up with hits as a pinch hitter.
Some Carp highlights include his first start with Boston on April 17, where he went 3-for-3 with one RBI and was a home run away from the cycle; a pinch-hit double to tie the game in the eighth inning against Cleveland, then scoring the eventual game-winning hit on a double by Pedroia; and a 3-for-5 game on June 8 against the Angels, including a home run and two RBIs.
Due to a forgettable, injury-filled 2012 following an MVP-caliber 2011 season, management and fans alike were wondering what the Red Sox would get out of Jacoby Ellsbury in 2013. The result halfway through the regular season? A return to the Ellsbury of old, where he was less concerned about how many home runs he was hitting and more concerned about getting on base and making things happen with his speed.
Ellsbury is hitting .305 with three home runs and 33 RBIs as the leadoff hitter the Sox had hoped he would be. He has an on-base percentage .368 on the year, including OBPs of .414 in June and .420 so far in July. Ellsbury also has 36 stolen bases heading into the All-Star break to help his teammates collect RBIs and the Red Sox score 498 runs, the most in MLB.
Ellsbury’s terrific season has included 11 games where he has had at least three hits; a walk-off, two-run double on May 26 against Cleveland; a Red Sox team-record five stolen bases on May 30 against Philadelphia; and a 19-game hitting streak from June 19 to July 11. With Ellsbury in the final year of his contract, and the emergence of Jackie Bradley Jr. during spring training, trade rumors regarding Ellsbury have been circulating since the offseason, but for now, the Red Sox are looking forward to getting all that they can out of their reinvigorated center fielder.
One of the clubhouse leaders that the Red Sox focused on signing to help change the culture of the team during the 2012-13 offseason was outfielder Jonny Gomes. While knowing he was not going to be an everyday player with Boston, Gomes has quickly become a fan favorite for his attitude and ability to deliver in clutch moments. His character on and off the field is exactly what the Red Sox were looking for heading into 2013 and is a big reason why the team is 19 games over .500 at the All-Star break. In 174 at-bats this season, Gomes has collected 41 hits, six home runs, 22 RBIs, 11 doubles, and 27 runs scored.
More importantly has been when Gomes has come through in the clutch. His three pinch-hit home runs are the most for a Red Sox player since Bernie Carbo in 1977; two of his pinch-hit homers have been walk-offs. The Red Sox have eight walk-off hits this season, surpassing the three they hit all of last year, and Gomes has played a major role in shifting the psyche to a “never-say-die” attitude. Gomes’ highlights on the season include hitting a grand slam on May 8 against Minnesota; a two-run, walk-off home run on June 18 against Tampa Bay; and another walk-off home run on July 3 against San Diego.
After starting his Red Sox career with a bang in 2010, when he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues, Daniel Nava was never able to lock down a consistent role with the Red Sox. That all changed this season, when Nava, initially filling in on a part time basis, has become a solid everyday player, hitting .288 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs this year. Nava has batted almost everywhere in the Red Sox lineup, and has succeeded in every spot that John Farrell has put him in.
Long talked about as a possible All-Star candidate for the American League, Nava was ultimately left off the squad, but he has shown that he is an All-Star in the Red Sox’ eyes: his success has included three straight games with a home run from April 7 to April 10; hitting in 12 out of 14 games from May 17 to May 30; a 4-for-6 game with a home run and four RBIs on June 1 against the Yankees; and another 4-for-6 game with two doubles and an RBI on July 6 against the Angels.
One of the Red Sox “big” offseason signings, in terms of salary, was to shore up their suddenly weak outfield. They found a solution in Shane Victorino, whom they inked to a three-year, $39 million contract to play right field. Victorino was a star for many years in Philadelphia, winning three Gold Gloves, was a two-time All-Star, and helped the Phillies to the 2008 World Series championship.
In half a season with the Red Sox, Victorino has hit .290 with four home runs and 24 RBIs. He has been limited to just 64 games through the All-Star break due to nagging back and hamstring injuries, and he missed 14 straight games from May 21 to June 8. Some of Victorino’s highlights have been going 2-for-6 with three RBIs in his Red Sox debut on April 1 against the Yankees; hitting in nine of the team’s first 11 games; and on June 21 in Detroit, where he had arguably his best game in a Red Sox uniform, going 4-for-5 with a home run and five RBIs in a 10-6 win over the Tigers.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been the Red Sox’ everyday catcher since team captain Jason Varitek retired following the 2011 season, and has put up solid numbers in his time as the starting backstop for Boston. He has caught 74 games for the Red Sox this season, splitting time with both David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway, and has hit .266 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs. A startling number, however, is Salty’s strikeout to walk ratio, which is 3.2/1, and he has already struck out 96 times, including nine games in which he struck out at least three times.
Nevertheless, Salty has shown he can get hits when it counts and has shown that he can endure the task of playing night in and night out in arguably the toughest position in baseball. Salty’s 2013 highlights include a 3-for-4 performance with two doubles, a home run, and two RBIs on April 10 against Baltimore; going 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs on June 9 against the Angels; and, of course, catching both games of a day-night doubleheader on June 18 against Tampa Bay.
Due to backup catcher David Ross’ concussion issues, which eventually led to him being placed on the 60-day DL, Pawtucket catcher Ryan Lavarnway was called up to the Red Sox to help out starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia. In his two stints with Boston this season, Lavarnway has hit .242 with no home runs and four RBIs in 37 at-bats.
While viewed as a backup for now, Lavarnway has shown poise at the plate, and could potentially be the Red Sox catcher of the future, depending on what the team decides to do with Saltalamacchia. Some highlights in Lavarnway’s limited time with Boston include seven straight games he played in where he recorded a hit, as well as on May 18 when he had two RBIs in a 12-5 win over Minnesota.
It has been a roller coaster season to say the least for pitcher Alfredo Aceves. After beginning the year with Pawtucket, Aceves had been up and down from Triple-A several times, pitching in 11 games and starting 6. Aceves has a 4-1 record in 2013 with a 4.86 ERA and 24 strikeouts.
Despite solid performances, off-field issues have convinced management to shy away from Aceves. He has always had attitude issues in his career, has been known to get into arguments with anyone he can, and, during the World Baseball Classic, Canadian coach Larry Walker said that he “saw Satan in [Aceves’] eyes," during a fight between his Canadian club and Aceves’ Mexican team.
Recently, Aceves was outrighted to Triple-A, meaning that he was optioned off the 40-man roster and cleared waivers, meaning the Red Sox can use his roster spot for someone else, leading to speculation that Aceves may have finally seen his last action in a Boston Red Sox uniform.
After a disappointing and injury-filled 2012 campaign that led to his removal from the closer role, Andrew Bailey came back in 2013 looking to prove he could still be the kind of reliever who earned two All-Star appearances in Oakland. After returning from a stint on the DL due to inflammation in his bicep, and after it was announced that closer Joel Hanrahan would undergo season-ending surgery, manager John Farrell put Bailey back into the closer’s spot. After saving six of his first seven chances as closer, Bailey seemed to forget how to close out games, allowing home runs in five straight appearances, blowing three saves in five chances, and ballooning his ERA from 1.47 to 4.03.
After a particularly bad outing against Detroit on June 20, Bailey was removed from the closer role in favor of Koji Uehara. Since then, Bailey has improved, not allowing a run in four appearances in July while striking out seven, and with Andrew Miller on the shelf for the rest of the season, it looks like Bailey will be Farrell’s eighth inning bridge to Uehara for at least the time being. Bailey’s highlights include striking out at least one batter in 12 straight games from April 1 to April 24, as well as striking out the side on April 24 against Oakland.
Yale alum Craig Breslow has been a solid reliever, pitching 32 innings in 31 games with an ERA of 2.81 with 19 strikeouts. Of the 10 earned runs that Breslow has let up this year, they were all allowed in a combined four games, making Breslow’s 2.81 ERA slightly deceiving, as, with these few exceptions, he has been very good in the games he has pitched.
After missing all of spring training with left shoulder inflammation, Breslow made five rehab appearances, one with Portland and four with Pawtucket.
Breslow has seen an increased role in the Sox bullpen since Andrew Miller went down with an injury, and look for him to continue seeing more time as he and the recently acquired Matt Thornton are the only two lefthanders at John Farrell’s disposal out of the bullpen. A couple 2013 highlights for Breslow include allowing only one run in 11 games from May 9 through June 1, as well as striking out five in three appearances two different times: from May 28 to June 1 and from July 6 to July 14.
The most electric, as well as most frustrating, pitcher for the Red Sox this season could easily be Clay Buchholz. Since throwing a no-hitter in only his second career major league start in 2007, Buchholz has never been able to fully establish himself as a top of the line starter, having just one All-Star appearances since joining the rotation full time in 2008. But early in the 2013 campaign, Buchholz was lights out, going an incredible 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his first six starts and earning his second All-Star selection.
He has only one appearance on the year where he has let up more than two runs (he let up four on May 6 against Minnesota), and is 9-0 with an ERA of 1.71 in 12 starts on the year.
Late in May, however, Buchholz began to complain of shoulder plain that he claims happened when he slept on his arm wrong while holding his baby daughter. He missed a start in late May, but came back for two starts in June, and had to leave a game on June 8 against the Angels when he said the pain cropped up after making an awkward throw to first base. Buchholz has not pitched since, and there is no definite timetable for his return.
Despite missing the past month, Buchholz was still named to the AL All-Star team for the second time in his career, the last in 2010, and had two 10-plus strikeout games in three starts in April, 11 in an April 14 game against Tampa Bay, and 10 in an April 25 game against Houston.
The biggest starting pitching splash the Red Sox made in the offseason was signing former Chicago Cub and Texas Ranger Ryan Dempster. Expected to be third or fourth in the rotation, the 36-year-old Dempster has started 19 games for the Red Sox this season, going 5-8 with a 4.24 ERA and 104 strikeouts. Dempster has not been terrible for the Red Sox, but he has not been too good either.
Dempster has shown the ability to eat up innings, going at least six innings in 12 of his 19 starts. He has even shown the work ethic to change his mechanics, getting rid of the “glove shake” that he used to do before he delivered, which has seemed to help his performance. As long as his ERA continues to hover around 4.00, Dempster should continue to serve as a solid back of the rotation starter for the Red Sox stretch run. Dempster’s best start of the season came on April 15, when he went seven innings, struck out 10, and allowed only two hits and one run in a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay.
A nice midseason surprise for the Red Sox has been the pitching of fifth starter Felix Doubront. After back-to-back starts in early May in which he let up six runs, the young lefthander has now gone 11 straight starts where he has not let up more than three earned runs, and has lowered his ERA from 6.40 to 3.91. Doubront had to earn his spot on this year’s rotation, and he has pitched consistently through the past couple of months, a big reason why the Red Sox have been able to survive Clay Buchholz’s injury and Jon Lester’s ineffectiveness.
Doubront most recently spun a seven-inning gem, recording six strikeouts and allowing just five hits and one run to the Seattle Mariners en route to an 11-4 Red Sox win. Along with John Lackey, Doubront has proven to be a stabilizing force in a Red Sox rotation that is lacking the two starters who were expected to be their aces throughout the season. Doubront’s 2013 highlights include back-to-back games where he struck out eight, going 6.2 innings and allowing three hits in both games, April 22 against Oakland and April 27 against Houston.
After signing a massive, five-year contract prior to the 2010 season, Lackey was ineffective his first two seasons in Boston, including a 2011 season in which he had the highest ERA of any pitcher in Red Sox history with at least 150 innings pitched. Adding fuel to the fire, Lackey shared the blame for the now-famous “chicken and beer” controversy that was part of the epic September of 2011 collapse of the Red Sox. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2012 season.
In 2013, Lackey vowed to show everyone that he could be the dominant starter he had been earlier in his career. He came into spring training in the best shape of his career, and, after suffering a scary looking arm injury in his first start of the season in Toronto, Lackey has been nothing short of excellent. Lackey’s 7-6 overall record is not as indicative of his overall performance as his ERA, which sits at 2.78. Once given up on, Lackey has shown to be the most consistent pitcher on the Red Sox this season.
Lackey’s best games of the year include his season opener on April 6 against Toronto, where he had eight strikeouts in four innings before injuring his arm; recording 12 strikeouts and allowing just two runs over seven innings on June 26 against Colorado; and striking out nine over seven innings in a July 12 loss to the Angels, despite letting up just two runs.
Another mystery of the first half of 2013 is what happened to Jon Lester. After the worst season of his career in 2012, Lester seemed to have figured out everything and was pitching very well at the beginning of the season, when he went 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA through his first nine starts, and, with Clay Buchholz, had formed arguably the best 1-2 starting punch in the American League.
But since May 20, Lester has had a 2-6 record in 11 starts, with his overall ERA skyrocketing to 4.58, just .02 lower than the highest point it has been at all season. Lester had a tough June, going 2-2 with a 7.62 ERA, and allowed at least five runs in three of his five starts. He recently came off an OK outing against Oakland on July 13, where he let up three runs on six hits in 6.1 innings, but things just aren’t clicking for Lester the way that they had been in the past.
The biggest problem with Lester this season is that it seems he just can’t shut the door, with a high percentage of his hits and runs allowed coming with either two strikes or two outs. Lester has shown that he can, at times, pick up strikeouts like he used to, striking out at least seven in four outings this year, but he is just 2-2 in those games, showing that the high strikeout numbers are not necessarily resulting in overall success.
Junichi Tazawa enters the All-Star break having thrown 41.2 innings on the season, striking out 47 and holding a 3.02 ERA. Usually reserved for the eighth inning, Tazawa has been consistent over the first half of 2013, with 16 holds and just three blown saves. Tazawa throws a high number of strikes, as he has allowed just five walks on the year in contrast with his 47 strikeouts.
Tazawa’s highlights include allowing just one run in his first nine games pitched this season; striking out four batters over two innings on April 17 against Cleveland; recording six straight holds from April 17 to April 27; and striking out the side twice this season: on May 4 against Texas, and again on July 3 against San Diego.
Red Sox Nation knows him for his enthusiasm and high fives, but now the rest of the MLB has found out about reliever Koji Uehara from his appearance on the American League All-Star Final Vote ballot. The 38-year-old righthander was signed before the season to be another solid arm in the bullpen, and his pitching over the first half of 2013 has been terrific. Uehara has allowed just eight runs in 42.1 innings, striking out 60 and walking just eight with an overall ERA of 1.70. Originally an eighth inning set-up man for Joel Hanrahan and then Andrew Bailey, Uehara was inserted into the closer role and picked up his first save as the primary closer on June 26.
On top of falling just short of making the All-Star team, Uehara’s 2013 highlights include recording four separate streaks of at least seven appearances without allowing an earned run; having an ERA of 0.00 in eight appearances in the month of July; and striking out the side four different times: on May 9 against Minnesota, on May 19 also against Minnesota, on June 15 against Baltimore, and on July 12 against Oakland, a game he also saved.
One major source of credit for the Red Sox’ turnaround has to go to manager John Farrell. After the disaster that was the reign of Bobby Valentine, who led the Red Sox to their worst record since 1966, John Farrell was hired and immediately worked to turn around the character of the franchise. By emphasizing pitching, defense, and small ball over raw power, Farrell has actually been able to turn the Red Sox into the highest scoring team in baseball, scoring 498 runs entering the All-Star break. The Red Sox have a +91 run differential, and a team batting average of .277, good for second in the American League.
One area that John Farrell has vastly improved is the team’s pitching, as the Red Sox have an overall team ERA of 3.91, a vast improvement from the 4.70 ERA they had in 2012, and the staff’s .250 batting average against in tied for fourth in the AL. The Red Sox’ record of 58-39 is the best in the American League, and it is their highest win total before the All-Star break in team history. Boston has a 2.5 game lead in the American League East, a far cry from the Red Sox last place finish just one year ago.
It’s not easy to replace a young and talented general manager who won two World Series titles in nine seasons, including ending a 86-year championship drought, but when Theo Epstein left for Chicago, the Red Sox hired Ben Cherington to fill the void. Cherington’s first highly successful transaction, in retrospect, was the deal he orchestrated last August that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers, ridding the team of more than $250 million total in contracts that Epstein had inked those players to before he left town.
After the team fired Bobby Valentine, Cherington went out and hired his number one choice for manager, John Farrell. Once Farrell was in the fold, Cherington went with a different approach than Sox teams had done in the past, electing not to go with superstar slugger signings, but with lower-profile guys who would help rebuild the character of the clubhouse, such as Jonny Gomes and David Ross. Along with signing Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, and Koji Uehara, Cherington has put together the pieces that have helped the Red Sox to the best record in the American League, and enter the All-Star break just 11 wins shy of their entire total from 2012.
Cherington’s first major move going into the 2013 trade deadline was acquiring lefthanded reliever Matt Thornton from the White Sox in exchange for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs, and it remains to be seen whether the Red Sox GM will try to make another move with the deadline now just two weeks away.
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