Aaron, Ben, Scott, and I have graded group performances for the first half. Here is what we thought of this wonderful group...
Aaron: Grade: A
When Dustin Pedroia is your worst infielder (now that Youk is gone), you don't have much to complain about. Sure, we can grumble about Gonzo's lack of power, but he's still hitting and driving in a decent number of runs. Thanks to this infield, the Red Sox have scored the second-most runs in all of baseball (432). 57 RBI's for Papi, 45 for Gonzo, 44 for Aviles, 41 for Salty, 37 for Middlebrooks and 33 for Pedroia. I'll take another half season of that, thank you.
Ben: Grade: B
(Incl. Ortiz) Salty, Middlebrooks & Aviles each have had their moments to shine this half. Papi (A+) has been the only guy that has been consistent. He's on a roll still and one can only wonder how bad this team would be without Ortiz. Hoping that Dusty & Adrian have many of them in the second.
Scott: Grade: C+
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks have been pleasant surprises, and Mike Aviles has been adequate. Pimp him as I might, Adrian Gonzalez has been severely underwhelming, and Dustin Pedroia has been hurt the whole year (whether he's been on or off the field). The backups are what you'd expect from backups. Also, while Kevin Youkilis was quite bad, it looks like we probably sold pretty low on him. Time will tell, of course, but it's hard to see him putting up a .990 OPS with the White Sox while we're throwing Mauro Gomez and Nick Punto out there. (DH: A++++++++++).
Nick: Grade: B-
The most disappointing piece of the group has been Adrian Gonzalez. Pedey has also been disappointing, but a majority of the blame can be placed on the thumb injury. Middlebrooks and Salty have picked it up for the rest of the group, but it hasn't been all positive for both of those guys. Middlebrooks is now dealing with a hamstring issue a.k.a. J.D. Drew disease, and Salty quickly switches from hot to cold, often going to the extremes of both. Shortstop has been a toss-up. A great start for Aviles followed by a drop to 7-9 in the lineup. To end on a good note, David Ortiz has been pretty awesome. I also give him an A++++++++++.
Aaron: Grade: B
This is another group that it's hard to be down on. With all the injuries (beyond Ellsbury and Crawford), Cherington was literally plucking guys off the street to suit up. I imagine it was a scene straight out of every movie set during the Great Depression. 50 outfielders jockeying for position on a run-down dock. Ben Cherington rides up in his car. He points at Marlon Byrd, "You!" He points at Scott Podsednik, "You!". He points at Jason Repko, "You!" Then quickly realizes what a terrible decision he's made. Anyway, everyone he called on performed to some degree. No one has been having an amazing year, but no one has been awful either.
Ben: Grade: C+
Ellsbury, Crawford disappoints but Ross & Nava have been pleasant surprises.
Scott: Grade: B
Despite the injuries to Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury (and then the short-term ones to everyone but Daniel Nava), most of the fill-ins have played well in their time. Nava has been superb, Cody Ross has been good, and Ryan Sweeney has been better than most expected. It's not Manny-Damon-Trot, but it's fine.
Nick: Grade: B
The make-shift outfield has come though many times this season. Daniel Nava re-emerged after a season of hiding in Pawtucket and has been a pleasant surprise. The outfield has had more highs than lows given the circumstances.
Aaron: Grade: F+
As stated above, the Sox have scored the second-most runs in the league, but also sit at the bottom of the AL East. It's not the offense's fault. The Sox have had 5 pitchers start at least 10 games. The lowest ERA on that group belongs to Felix Doubront with 4.41. In fact, of all the men that have started a game for the Red Sox ths year, Franklin Morales has the lowest ERA, WHIP and BAA. The guys we've needed have let us down. The guys we expected nothing from have stepped up. The snozberries taste like snozberries.
Ben: Grade: D
If you would've told me in Spring Training that Doubront would be the best starter of the first half, I would've thought the Sox record would be MUCH worse than 43-43. Horse shit seasons for everyone else. As for Dice-K エフ. That’s an F in Japanese.
Scott: Grade: D-
Hurt: John Lackey, Aaron Cook, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Daniel Bard (mentally, anyway), Clay Buchholz, and Josh Beckett off and on. Under-performing: Jon Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Felix Doubront (after an OK start), Matsuzaka (somehow), Daniel Bard. So, basically, everyone who's started more than a couple of times. Beckett hasn't been awful, and as far as I'm concerned he's the only thing keeping them from being an F.
Nick: Grade: D
The Red Sox should have done the right thing and kept Bard in the bullpen instead of turning him into Rick Ankiel. Doubront was a nice surprise for most of the season and random flashes of brilliance for almost everyone else. For the most part, and I will quote Ben, it has been horse shit.
Aaron: Grade: C+
When they're good, they're really good. When they're bad, they're unwatchable. And there's seemingly no in-between. They tanked the season right out of the gate, then became the most dependable part of the Sox roster. Then lately, have reverted back to being awful. But I'm still mostly positive about the pen. Atchison has been unreal. Andrew Miller is surprising everyone. Albers is a complete 180 from last year. Thankfully the Sox did cut Darnell McDonald and his 27.00 ERA (not to mention the .500 average batters were hitting off of him). So now that he's gone, I think we can expect bigger things from this group in the second half.
Ben: Grade: B+
Yeah Melancon imploded early & Aceves still has his struggles closing but this bullpen has bailed out the starters SO MANY TIMES.
Scott: Grade: B
Some are raving about the bullpen, and many of the guys have been good. My complaints: Alfredo Aceves has been exposed, and the Mark Melancon debacle needs to make an appearance in this grade.
Nick: Grade: B
The bullpen was at their worst to start the season and has experienced more positives than negatives since then. Aaron said it best..."When they're good, they're really good. When they're bad, they're unwatchable".
Aaron: Grade: D+
I don't blame Bobby for the Sox woes, but I don't have an real confidence in him to do, well, anything. All the negatives of the Francona era were supposed to be banished with Bobby Valentine rode in to town. Not only has that not happened, everything is worse. He's certainly not the answer. Now, we can only hope that Cherington can get the clubhouse in order so we can lure a legitimate manager as soon as Bobby is fired or his contract is absolutely not renewed.
Ben: Grade: B
He’s done a good job mixing up the lineup and trying to get the best out of everyone. Same goes with the bullpen, which has bailed out the starters time and time again. Yeah he’ll say something stupid every now and then but he’s done a good job managing the team.
Scott: Grade: C
He looked really over-matched at first, but has been OK of late. Generally speaking, his impact on the team is relatively small.
Nick: Grade: D
Still don't like the inventor of the wrap. I can't stand his mouth and the fact that he looks at the camera 100 times during a 2 minute interview. He has made some questionable substitutions in games and has come up with some quirky lineups. He has had a lot to deal with in terms of injuries and controversy that occurred before he was a part of the organization and he has exceeded my expectations in the way he has handled those problems. I can't wait until this era is over.
Aaron: Grade: C-
This team is waaaaaaay too talented to be hanging out in the basement in the AL East, injuries be damned. The clubhouse is a mess, the front of the rotation has been a letdown, Bobby Valentine was not the answer. This season has been more frustrating than fun. That said, there have been a few bright spots and if the Baseball Gods want to ease up a bit on the injury and luck front, the Boston Red Sox could very well climb back in the playoff hunt. But they're going to have to be a lot more consistent down the stretch.
Ben: Grade: C-
While the injuries have hit the Red Sox, they still have a ridiculous amount of talent to overcome it. The starting rotation has disappointed for much of the first half. They need to get it together if the Sox want to make it back to the playoffs.
Scott: Grade: C
This team is depressing to watch, and average at best on the field.
Nick: Grade C-
This team has filled in some gaps nicely, but the "big names" have not performed. I'm talk about you, Adrian Gonzalez, and pretty much the entire starting rotation. If this team were not plagued with injury, it would be a definite F, but 1/2 of the Pawsox team have responded to the call well. They are lucky to be at .500.