CHICAGO — Some random Red Sox thoughts while waiting to board the flight home::
• The Red Sox are 7-9 and three games out of first place after 16 games. That’s not too bad considering Xander Bogaerts, Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia have all underachieved at the plate so far.
The Red Sox don’t need a trade or some sort of shake-up. They need good players — particularly Bogaerts, Ortiz and Pedroia — to play to their capabilities.
• It’s worth noting, too, that the Sox have played 16 games without Shane Victorino, a Gold Glove defender who had a 118 OPS+ last season. The Red Sox have yet to have their expected lineup together for one game this season and that includes spring training.
The Sox are averaging a paltry 3.5 runs but that is going to change and their record will follow. Of their nine losses, four have been by one run. This team is close.
• Red Sox pitchers have a 3.25 ERA and their starters have had 12 quality starts. Pitching is what ultimately wins and this team has pitching.
“From one to five I think we stack up with anybody,” David Ross said on Thursday.
• Victorino could be activated by Thursday or Friday and the Red Sox will have an interesting decision to make. Jackie Bradley is hitting .227 but does have a .346 OBP and is playing premier defense in center field. Defensively they would lose a lot if he goes to back to Triple A Pawtucket.
It would be unlike the Red Sox to trade a player (like Mike Carp) when the alternative is to option somebody to the minors. The smart move in April is to retain your depth. Bradley has options but so does Daniel Nava.
• Chris Capuano for $2.25 million is looking like one of the best bargains in baseball. He has put six runners on base in nine innings and has yet to allow a run. The lefty approaches his relief appearances like a starter, throwing all his pitches. The difference is that his two-seam fastball plays up a little in terms of velocity in shorter stints.
It’s a heck of a weapon, a lefty who can be used for multiple innings or for a few batters. Once again, Ben Cherington excels at the below-the-radar move.
• Biggest negative for the Red Sox so far? Has to be the base running. The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury and the absence of Victorino has left them without a base stealer (Pedroia is 1 for 2 so far) and the offense has taken a hit. The Sox also haven’t run the bases as effectively as they did last year. The Sox put pressure on opposing teams last season and we haven’t seen that yet. They’ve run into outs on occasion, too.
Bradley fits in here, too. He’s not a base-stealer (31 of 49 in the minors) but can run and gives them a threat.
• Speaking of speed, the Sox are the only team in the majors without a triple. Who’s your guess to get the first one? The conventional wisdom suggests Grady Sizemore or maybe Bradley. I’ll go with dark horse Jonny Gomes, who hasn’t had one since 2011. Bomb to the triangle, dives into third and is safe on a close play. You watch.
• Counting the postseason, Lester has a 3.10 ERA in 18 games Ross has caught him. That’s hard to ignore if you’re John Farrell. Let’s remember, too, that Ross missed two months last season with concussions. A full year of Ross being around could really mean something for Lester.
• This is sort of insane: Counting the postseason, Koji Uehara has pitched 41 games and 43⅔ innings without allowing a walk.
• Thursday’s victory felt like the first time this season the Red Sox had the same “we’ll figure out a way to win this game” mojo that they had last season. There was a different vibe in the clubhouse after the game, too. With 15 of the next 18 games at home, it’ll be interesting to see how that manifests itself.
• Jake Peavy has to prove he can stay healthy. He’s sort of an old 32 (33 in May) with 308 starts and nearly 2,000 innings under his belt. But those 20 strikeouts over 18⅔ innings this season catch your eye. He’s pitching like somebody who wants to add a little more to his legacy.
• Xander Bogaerts showed you a little something with how he handled his Twitter screw up. (In case you missed the news, he accidentally posted a photo of a woman in a thong then deleted it). He could have tried the “my account was hacked” routine or refused to talk about it. But he waited until the beat writers were in the clubhouse on Thursday and stood at his locker, knowing questions were going to be asked.
He owned up to it, said what he had to say then went out and hit a monster home run in a good win.
Not bad for 21. That .397 on-base percentage tells you something, too. And while Bogaerts may only have two home runs in 100 career at-bats, they traveled a combined 887 feet. His power is going to show in bunches the more comfortable he gets.
• Seems like Junichi Tazawa should get more love among Red Sox fans. Guy has a 2.33 ERA, 2.57 FIP, and a 179 ERA+ over 116 games since the start of the 2012 season.
• Masahiro Tanaka against Jon Lester on Tuesday at Fenway? It’s not official yet, but that looks like the matchup. Now there’s a game to see.
Here’s hoping for sunshine at Fenway.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.