It’s the time of year for an exercise most teachers celebrate and some students dread, for all that it represents: the June report card.

In Major League Baseball, such a progress report tells the tale neither of a happily elapsed year or a hopelessly lost one. Your Boston Red Sox are merely approaching the halfway point of a season that looks a lot more like the history bee of 2004, 2007 and 2013 than the failed chemistry experiments of 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Never too early to take inventory of who’s doing their homework and who’s slacking off. Here’s an alphabetical look at one teacher’s grade book in this season’s section of Rebuilding the Red Sox 101:

Mookie Betts: A. Never doubted that he would be a sizzling Major League hitter, but Betts’ power (14 home runs) and production (49 RBIs) are shocking. He’s steadily building MVP credentials if the Sox can take this thing into September.

Xander Bogaerts: A. We are watching the start of a Hall of Fame career, and every doggone day of it better be spent in Boston. X makes everything look easy as A-B-C. He’s effortlessly good.

Jackie Bradley Jr.: A. For two years, I kept believing he only needed to hit .250 to be a cornerstone in center field for the next decade, given the rest of the tools in his arsenal. But sure, I’ll accept .304 and a dozen dingers.


Clay Buchholz: D-minus. Electrifying physical gifts. Elementary-school mental capacity to harness them.

John Farrell: B-minus. Not bringing back Farrell for one more season would have been the worst public-relations move ever, in light of his 2015 cancer diagnosis. Count me as one who would like to see Torey Lovullo get a shot at this gig, though, before someone else scoops him up.

Craig Kimbrel: B. I still think he’s a guy better equipped to close for a fair-to-middling National League team than a franchise besieged by win-or-else foolishness. It is tough to quibble with Kimbrel’s ninth-inning efficiency thus far, however. When the manager doesn’t throw him to the wolves in non-save situations, he gets the job done.

David Ortiz: A. Remember seven years ago, when Ortiz was scuffling to hit his first home run of the season in mid-May? There were people – respected, influential people – who wanted the Sox to thank their portly designated hitter for his meritorious service and shuffle him off. Seems so foolish now, as does the idea of his retiring.

Dustin Pedroia: B-minus. His effort and leadership are still second to none, but “The Laser Show” is pretty much in syndication at this point. I think of Pedroia as the middle infield version of Freddy Lynn. All those years of utter disregard for his personal safety were bound to catch up with him and hamper production in his 30s.

Rick Porcello: A-minus. He’s the likable, skinny version of John Lackey, reinventing himself after most of us admittedly wanted the Sox to cut ties with him and eat that ridiculous contract. He still serves up meatballs at a Whiplash Wasdin clip, but if you’re going to gripe about nine wins before Father’s Day out of a guy who was the ultimate train wreck a year ago, I can’t help you.


David Price: C. The Good Book says “to whom much is given, much will be required,” and it applies here. The Sox didn’t shell out the gross domestic product of six Third World countries for 7-4, a 4.52 ERA and a dozen gopher balls. We all know that some all-star acquisitions (Curt Schilling, Mike Lowell) thrive in the Fenway fishbowl, under the specter of insane expectations from fans and media, and others (Carl Everett, Carl Crawford) do not. Still not sure which side of the equation Price will settle into.

Hanley Ramirez: C. Meh. Just a complete waste of space and salary, no matter where he’s stationed, although at least at first base he isn’t embarrassing himself and infuriating the masses by fumbling one-hoppers off the Monster.

Eduardo Rodriguez: D. He was the silver lining of another cellar-bound campaign in 2015. Hard to imagine that E-Rod’s sophomore slump could make us nostalgic for Buchholz, but that’s how far the mighty have fallen. Clearly the gifted lefty isn’t fully recovered from the balky kneecap. Maybe summer school, in the form of the extended spring training he missed, is what the doctor ordered.

Travis Shaw: B-plus. Simply took one of the team’s scariest weaknesses – having that belt-breaking bust Pablo Sandoval as its only third baseman in March – and made it a non-issue. What has been a more pleasant surprise: Shaw’s 27 extra-base hits, or his solid defense? Probably the latter. His pace of 160 strikeouts is the only downfall in this get-on-base-at-all-costs era of the pastime.

Junichi Tazawa/Koji Uehara: B. They haven’t exactly been the Far East Holding Company that I anticipated, turning each seventh and eighth inning into a lights-out experience and protecting every lead for Kimbrel. With 67 strikeouts in 52 combined innings, however, they’ve been solid.

Christian Vazquez: B. Any offense you get out of this guy is probably a bonus, and that was the thought process even before he lost an entire year of his promising career to injury. Then again, we used to say that about Bradley, so how long will a .211 average be acceptable even if Vazquez evolves into the Gold Glove backstop we all expect?

Steven Wright: A. This dude might start the All-Star Game. It makes me wonder at 43 if I still have time to learn the knuckleball and chase my dreams. I thought the magic of Tim Wakefield was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I’m proud and thrilled that I appear to have been wrong.

Overall: B-plus. I’m still not sold that the Sox win the American League East, or even finish second. Baltimore has regained its April form, and Toronto has bid adieu to its early-season demons. There are at least two gaping holes in the lineup and too many questions in the starting rotation. That said, with the Sox having kept pace with the leaders this close to the halfway point, I’m no fan of mortgaging any piece of the future (particularly the young gentlemen who reaped A’s this first trimester) in the name of immediate gratification. I’d like to see this team sink-or-swim for another month and reevaluate use of the panic button when the trade deadline is in plain sight.

Kalle Oakes is a 27-year veteran of the Sun Journal sports department who retired from the ranks in April. He now lives and works in Kentucky. He may be reached by email at [email protected]

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