The Red Sox are going through some mid-season transitions this week. They paid a premium to bring back Stephen Drew, who should stabilize the middle of the field defensively (and hopefully fill a huge hole in the lineup) but that is not the only glaring issue that they are facing at this time.
The catching situation has turned dire, specifically at the plate. A.J. Pierzynski has a miserable .281 OBP this year and his hitting .244, which on most other teams would put him in the bottom of the lineup but on the Red Sox, he often finds himself batting fifth or sixth. As a bright spot, Pierzynski is 4th in the ML in caught stealing percentage, at 35%.
At this point, David Ross is the big issue. Ross has seemed entirely lost at the plate this year. He’s 20 of 48 this year, and I’m talking about strikeouts; he’s struck out in nearly half of his plate appearances this year. With only eight hits, and a.167 AVG, he has shown no ability to get a hit when needed and for someone that only plays around twice a week, that seems even more glaring. John Farrell had Brock Holt bunt the runners over for Ross last night to try to drive them in in the eighth inning of a three run game, and Ross struck out swinging at a pitch outside the zone.
At 37 years old, Ross is at the twilight of his career and with this production it is hard to imagine him getting any extended playing time as the summer roles on. When Ross is in the lineup, coupled with the lack of production from the outfield, it creates a gaping hole that pitchers can work around, a nice break if you will, and it will be hard to win games with the current configuration.
The obvious solution seems to be to give Christian Vazquez a shot as the second catcher. The Sox have $8 million invested in Pierzynski so it’s not realistic to expect them to cut his playing time. Vazquez, a 23 year-old from Puerto Rico is often touted as one of the top prospects in the system and he’s hit well in his first year in AAA with a .256 AVG and .313 OBP, which aren’t out of this world numbers but compared to Ross, this guy’s Mike Piazza. At this point it’s worth giving the kid a shot and seeing if he sticks, just signing Drew is not going to get this team winning, a few more “energy” moves need to occur to change the patterns, because right now this club is going in circles.
Vazquez coming up would represent new life and could fill in the chasm at the bottom of the order that Boston has been faced with this year, he’d only play twice a week but that is a good enough sample size to get a sense if this guy’s as good as some people say he is.