BOSTON (CBS) — The 2014 season has been one big struggle for the Boston Red Sox, but no group has struggled more than the team’s outfield.
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci wrote about how historically bad the Boston outfield is this season, with Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley Jr. batting a collective .215 prior to Tuesday night’s loss in Cleveland. That’s not just the worst in Red Sox history, but the worst batting average by an outfield since 1961. That’s quite the difference from 2013, when the Boston outfield led all of baseball with a .285 average.
Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated and The Joe Sheehan Newsletter joined The Adam Jones Show on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox, and said if needed, Boston should be able to add a bat prior to the trade deadline.
“One of the things that’s not hard to find on the market mid-season is bats,” said Sheehan. “If you want to go out and find a guy who can stand in left field — granted the wall is tough, but you can put a lot of guys in left at Fenway and get away with it. You will have to option to do that, probably relatively cheaply, come July.
“Right now you’re still trying to figure out what you have. Yes, it’s been bad; Bradley hasn’t hit, Victorino has been hurt and Daniel Nava collapsed. These are bad things, but it could have been a lot worse,” he said. “No one in the division has run away, and the Red Sox are close enough.”
Sheehan said Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier would be an expensive option, and doesn’t think that trade would make sense for the Red Sox unless L.A. picks up a good portion of his remaining contract. Prospect Mookie Betts is now in Pawtucket after batting .355 in 54 games in Double-A Portland, and is transitioning from second base to the outfield, but Sheehan said relying on a player like Betts is risky since he is just learning a new position.
But with their depth in the minors, Sheehan says the Red Sox should be able to add whatever help they need, unless they choose to let the kids help them down the stretch.
And despite all their struggles, Sheehan says the Red Sox are still very much alive in the race for the AL East — and in his mind, the favorite to win the division.
“They’re not an overwhelming favorite. You have to look at the Blue Jays offense as being dangerous, and the Orioles core talent is pretty solid, but I think the Red Sox will end up the favorites. It looks bad now after that 10-game losing streak, but I think they’re the favorites to win the division,” he said.
View: MLB Standings
MORE SPORTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON