Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wait 'til next year - stockings were hung January 5th

Let's discuss my beloved Boston Red Sox. This past off-season they let one of my favorite Sox walk when they didn't really put an honest effort into resigning Jason Bay. Apparently our braintrust didn't think 36 homeruns and 119 rbi's while playing a quality left field warranted the sought after 5 year contract. They instead signed pitcher John Lackey for 5 years at a tune of $82.5M (a guy that plays every 5th day instead of an everyday outfielder). They also signed journeyman SS Marco Scutaro, fielding wiz 3B Andre Beltre and 37 year old former gold glove often injured centerfielder Mike Cameron. Excluding Kevin Youkillis and Dustin Pedroia, there isn't a consistent bat in the line-up. Yes, there are still good hitters with Victor Martinez, JD Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury, but they're streaky. GM Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona claimed that this years team was going to emphasize pitching and defense. That's code for, "we cheaped out for quality hitters." Furthermore, they were third in the league last year in fielding, not 3rd from the bottom. And yes they scored the third most runs in the majors, but guess who scored the most? The team they chase every year, the World Series Champion NY Yankees! And they added a bat, a basestealer and quality outfielder all rolled into one - Curtis Granderson!

My opinion at the time looking at this line-up was the rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka while good, (based on lifetime ERA's) still meant that you need to score at least 4 runs per game for the first 3, 5 for "Wake" and you better have a rested bullpen for "Dice-K" and expect to take one on the chin. In fairness, Dice-K hasn't pitched yet as he's on the DL. His spot has been filled admirably by Clay Buchholz. I just didn't see how they were going to score runs consistently. And...

So far, I've been right, they can't score consistently. In fact, they've been outscored 54-47 through 11 games. To date, they're 11th in fielding! Also, young star Ellsbury was moved to left field from center to accommodate Mike "Cantrun" Cameron and while still learning the position crashed into Beltre injuring his ribs and hasn't played since. On top of that, no one in management is willing to accept that David Ortiz, once hailed as Big Papi is done! The man has struck out in half his at bats this season, but Tito keeps marching him out there every day while Mike Lowell languishes on the bench. It's not 2004-05 anymore. Manny's gone, the steroids are gone...move on. I don't want to hear about Tito and loyalty to his players. Where's his loyalty to Lowell? He not only brought a good bat to the line-up, before his hip injury was arguably the best third baseman the Sox ever had, at least in my lifetime.

Then there was last night, when supposed defensive wiz Cameron, dropped a fly ball pinning 4 unearned runs and a loss onto Clay Buchholz. Guess what, the losses in April count just as much as the one's in September. This isn't Nascar with the stupid "The Chase" system where the points are reset for the top 12 drivers for the last 10 races. My feeling is that they'll be lucky to finish 3rd in the AL East this year. The Yankees are a shoe-in for 1st, I think Tampa Bay will rebound from an off year and while Toronto is rebuilding, they got some good young players coming along. Don't count on Boston holding them out of 3rd. If I had to make a wager right now, I'd bet there will be no playoff games in Fenway Park this season...not even a wild card entry.

UPDATE: They got beat today 7-0 by Tampa Bay which means they have now been outscored 61-47 through twelve games and own a 4-8 record. Did I mention the Yankees are 9-3?

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