With the Red Sox trending the wrong direction to open the season, clearly a change was needed, but perhaps something bigger should happen.
On Thursday, before their 10-game road trip, the Red Sox fired pitching coach Juan Nieves, based on the start the rotation got, including the worst ERA in baseball.
“There’s a number of things that go into this, but the ability to maintain the consistency or affect change when needed or adjustments that are required that’s typical with any pitcher, that wasn’t the same as we saw, as you referenced previously, two years ago,” manager said John Farrell on a conference call Thursday.
Nieves wasn’t the problem, but he was the guy to take the fall. The team has hired Carl Willis, from the Indians’ Triple-A team, and now has the task of learning a new staff in Boston.
Then came following Saturday’s game, with the offense still in a funk themselves, the team called up Jackie Bradley and optioned former All-Star Allen Craig to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Sure, Bradley was hitting .324 in Pawtucket and Craig was struggling to get going with inconsistent playing time hitting, .154 in 52 at-bats, but does a move with the fourth or fifth outfielders really create a spark, and sense of urgency?
Shane Victorino is expected back Monday and another move is needed, but even then it likely won’t be as big of a shakeup that the team needs.
The Red Sox need to do something to their starting rotation.
Maybe not send a pitcher down to Pawtucket, but send them back to the bullpen. Justin Masterson has relief experience, and Joe Kelly’s stuff would make for a pretty good late inning reliever.
The PawSox rotation has three left-handers ready for the big leagues in Brian Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens. Johnson and Rodriguez appear to be the most ready of the three, so why not call one of them up and see what they can do in the majors?
It sends a message to the rest of the veteran starters that they need to perform better, or ultimately they could be next. The Red Sox are all about winning, and making such a move would be all about turning the season around and contenting for a division title.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, the season is still young, and no team in the American League East is running away with things, nor does it look like a team will. The Rays lost Alex Cobb for the year for Tommy John surgery, the Orioles and Blue Jays cannot pitch and does anyone believe in the Yankees?
This year is one of the most mediocre AL East’s in years, so the Red Sox are not out of things just yet, but if things don’t change soon, they certainly can be.