There has been a lot going on with the Sox lately, let's break it down.
I was curious to see exactly where I stood on Pierzynski when the deal started. I checked out my article from when we initially signed him. I think I nailed it in my summary when I said
I can't say that I like this deal. The Red Sox seemed to have a good thing going with their clubhouse chemistry and Pierzynski is enough of a jerk that he could mess that up.I was off about some other things. Pierzynski had been relatively productive at the plate for his entire career, so the drop off in his numbers weren't something I anticipated. An article from Rob Bradford would seem to confirm that AJ was the clubhouse cancer that many of the fans feared he would be.
According to multiple sources within the Red Sox clubhouse, Pierzynski had become such a negative influence on the team that players approached both the Sox coaches and front office to address the problem. The common theme expressed was the catcher's seeming indifference toward his teammates and the common goals of the same organization that had relied on an all-for-one approach when winning the 2013 World Series.Since Pierzynski was DFA the Red Sox have had back to back walk off wins while snapping a 4-game losing streak and a backbreaking 1-7 homestand. It's naive to think that one jerk is enough to turn a World Series Champion into a last place team, but for a desperate fan looking for a glimmer of hope before the all-star break it does the trick. The Red Sox have a nice opportunity to build some momentum going into the break as they get their first taste of the Houston Astros, arguably the worst team in baseball. The Red Sox went 6-1 against them last season and the Astros have improved marginally, if at all.
A microcosm of Pierzynski's approach was mentioned by more than one of the backstop's former teammates, who revealed his propensity to spend a significant amount of time looking at his phone while at his locker during games. In one instance, after a particularly rough outing in which the starting pitcher had been pulled early in the game, Pierzynski could be found staring at his phone while the pitcher gave off the appearance of being an emotional wreck just a few feet away. That incident paved the way for at least one complaint to management from a teammate.
Buyers or Sellers?
It's difficult to know when it's time to throw in the towel on a team. It seemed clear that it was over just a few days ago, now I have just that small glimmer of hope again. I have seen what they can do last year. I want to believe. I want to give them another chance to show that they are the same team that delivered a championship just a few months ago. Perhaps things will be clearer on deadline day with another 16 games played. The AL East is such a mediocre jumble of teams that a strong second half might be enough to close the gap.
If you want to sell it's time to get serious about Jon Lester. I think the Red Sox should make him a deal, even if that means overpaying him. If you can't make a deal then it's time to cash in your chips. Lester is having an All-star season and typically plays better in the playoffs. Grind one of the contenders for some can't miss prospects and move on.
The rest of the players on short term deals are all expendable and should be sold to the highest bidder if we're having a fire sale. I don't know that Jake Peavy is any better than the guys like Brandon Workman or Rubby De La Rosa who have been bouncing back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket all season. If a National League team offers anything of significant value in exchange for Peavy they should pull the trigger. An all-star closer like Koji would have a lot of value on the trade market even as a 1-year rental. If the decision is made that we're throwing in the towel on this season he should absolutely be dealt.