BOSTON (CBS) — Three thoughts on the Red Sox as they continue along a 100-win pace during this 2016 season that has become a Red Sox Renaissance:
1. It’s time to put Clay Buchholz in the bullpen
The tough talkers want to trade Buchholz, release him, send him to the minors. In the interim, the Red Sox have a hole in the bullpen thanks to the injury to Carson Smith, who pitched 70 innings in relief for the Seattle Mariners last season and who was expected to give the Red Sox a similar amount – or more.
Before burying Buchholz – and he’s done nothing to warrant mercy – the Red Sox should give this a shot.
Here’s the big, obvious question: can Buchholz hold up physically? Impossible to know. Over the course of his career, Buchholz has inevitably broken down under the workload of a starter, which is very different. But putting Buchholz in the bullpen might force him to simplify things, and he has the stuff to deal with both left-handers and right-handers, get groundballs and strikeouts. And if the Red Sox can somehow turn him into a reasonably effective, two-inning middle reliever, well, there’s value there.
2. Give John Henry’s ownership group tremendous credit for mending fences with many former players, but it’s still hard to like Wade Boggs
Fine, we can disagree on whether Boggs’ No. 26 should be on the right field façade at Fenway Park. At the very least, it should not be up there before the No. 21 of Roger Clemens, who was a better player overall and whose contributions to the franchise were more significant. Oh, and Clemens was a better teammate.
The fact that Boggs cried on Thursday night was hardly surprising. Remember: this was a guy who went on national television with Barbara Walters following the Margo Adams sex scandal, blubbered like a child and declared himself a sex addict. And that little routine with the championship ring he won with the New York Yankees? Boggs did it on purpose. For those too young to remember him, you’ll just have to trust us on that one. Boggs never did anything by accident during his career, which was one of his strengths as a player. He was extremely deliberate. This was plotted.
3. We can all agree that the Red Sox have a good team, the question is how good
And if it feels like some of us keep moving the bar, well, we do. (Welcome to baseball.) The baseball season is longer than any other in sports and, in some ways, more significant. A smaller percentage of teams make the playoffs in MLB than in the NFL, NHL or NBA. The individual games might mean less because there are 162 of them, but you get the idea. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
In the short term, over the next two weeks, the Red Sox play Toronto, Baltimore and San Francisco. Nine of those 12 games will be on the road. Then comes a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins before series against Baltimore, Seattle, the Chicago White Sox and Texas. Truth be told, the Red Sox really haven’t had a stretch on their schedule like that this season, which is going to put strain on their pitching staff for an extended period of time.
Then, we’ll start to get some sense of how they can hold up during a schedule that eventually breaks down everyone.