Red Sox logo (upside-down to show their 2011 season performance)Pardon this off-topic post. It’s only my second on the topic of the Red Sox, so it’s not as though I do this all the time.

Today’s game at Fenway against the Angels (cached) was so horrifically bad, that I’m forced to post this. The question that leaps to my mind, right now, is a brief and obvious one:

What the fuck?

Seriously. I mean it. I want to know. What the fuck is wrong with the Red Sox?

After today’s game, the team with the second-largest payroll in the major leagues has an astounding 14-17 record and is in fourth place, out of five teams, in the American League East division (cached).

The entire team roster is a laundry-list of mediocrity, inconsistency, and underperformance. I had considered providing a detailed, statistically-backed list of examples of underperformance and incompetence, but that would make this post far too long to be helpful. True, there have been a few flashes of brilliance: Josh Beckett pitched a couple of games which will likely prove among the best of his career. Jon Lester had a gem or two, also, as did Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dustin Pedroia had a fairly good hitting streak going a couple weeks ago, where it looked as though there was nothing a pitcher could throw him that he couldn’t hit. Adrian Gonzalez has a decent batting average, but is not hitting for power, which is why the Sox acquired him. But let’s face it, whatever good performances these guys have turned in, have been outweighed by their sags.

About the only guys I can’t really complain about are Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury. But Ellsbury’s only batting .270 at the moment, and Lowrie’s hitting streak has screeched to an abrupt halt … so even those two bright spots on the team, aren’t as bright as they could have been.

On the down side, Kevin Youklis and Carl Crawford have been just-plain-useless all year. Bobby Jenks has been a joke. J.D. Drew has been, well, J.D. Drew … and that’s not saying a lot. John Lackey is horrifically bad. The situation at catcher, a Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek platoon, is quickly becoming the joke of the American League, with runners stealing bases against them almost at will.

The team itself has downplayed and dismissed their pathetic display of amateurish baseball, saying basically that an MLB season is a full 162 games and they haven’t all been played, so things will work out just fine. And their willing collaborators in the New England sports media have essentially gone along with this Pollyannic, “everything-will-be-all-right, we’re-not-worried” crap.

Well, this lifelong follower of the Red Sox is no longer buying that steaming load of outrageous bullshit. As I post this, almost 1/5 of the season has been played. In a competitive division like the AL East, they cannot afford to keep up this level of underperformance. To be close to the AL cellar is just not acceptable at this point. They need to climb out, and climb out now — and then stay out, if they have any hope at getting into the playoffs.

We can debate all day which aspect of play has put the Red Sox in their present condition. Is it the pitching? The batting? Yes, all the pitchers have, at one time or another, failed to do well. Yes, the batters are congenitally unable to drive in runners (leaving the bases loaded is something the Sox manage to almost every game, sometimes more than once; they lead baseball in LOBs). But the answer is that the Sox have flopped in every single aspect of play. There is no one root cause for this condition; their failure is systemic and pervasive.

This suggests that major changes across the entire team … maybe including the coaching staff … are required in order to make things better. Unfortunately the Sox are led by Terry Francona. He’s as clever a manager as has ever run an MLB team, but so far he’s proven to be the “players’ manager” we’ve known him to be, unwilling to make any of the major changes needed to really improve the Red Sox. He shifts guys around in the batting order (always carefully preserving that left-right-left thing he’s so obsessed with), given a guy a day off here or there … but honestly, what the fuck good has any of that done? Early today he put a couple of anemic relievers on the disabled list and called up a couple of replacements from triple A Pawtucket, but that’s the biggest move he’s made, and this afternoon’s game proved it’s not sufficient. (If anything, getting beaten at home by a score of 11-0 shows they’re even worse than they were before.)

I’m no fan of Dr Phil, but a question he often asks is one that desperately needs to be asked of Francona and company: “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Obviously the little batting-order tweaks, the pats on the back after someone stranded men on base for the third time in a game, the occasional days off — they’re just not working. But no one in Boston seems to know or care that they aren’t.

The bottom line is that, while they occasionally admit to some “frustration,” the Red Sox — including players and staff — are simply not cognizant of how truly awful they are. Until they finally admit it, and decide to change things for the better — and I mean, really change them, substantially — they’re on track to end the season under 500. And there’s no legitimate reason for a team with the Red Sox payroll, to end up that way.

Update: As of last night, the Red Sox season is over, and I’ve posted my assessment of this ridiculous excuse for a team in the wake of its monumental collapse. Sadly, I was proven right when I said their terrible start to the season would, ultimately, cost them dearly.

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14 Responses to “A Pathetic Parade Of Incredible Mediocrity”
  1. A baseball fan? Psicop? I am pleasantly surprised. The things we learn about our online friends as time goes by. I always picture you as a studious middle-aged fellow sitting in your easy chair a book open in your lap with those elbow patches on the sleeves of your jacket and the pipe hanging out of the corner of your mouth. Now, that's all been trashed. I picture you as one of those screaming, and slightly demented, BoSox fans sitting above the Green Monster and throwing crumple popcorn boxes at Carl Crawford (Hey! You guys wanted him. HA!).

    Being a Rays fan, I have no love for the BoSox. That being said, though… I have immense respect for Terry Francona and his team. NEVER count out the BoSox. NEVER. They have made a art form out of rising from the ashes of a burnt first half of the season. If they're still in the toilet after the All-star break, then I'd be a bit concerned. Regardless, the won't get past the Rays this year. It's the curse of Carl. HAHA! 😉

    Later…

    • PsiCop says:

      Sorry to ruin your presumptions about me. I indulge in sports mildly. I follow the Red Sox, plus all the teams of my alma mater, UConn. The only reason I posted was because the Sox have been so fucking horribly sucky that I can't hold back any longer, and since no one else seems to see how bad they are, I have to make a point of it.

      As for counting them out … as time goes by and the Sox keep losing, they make it increasingly unlikely they can make the playoffs. They will need upwards of 90 wins on the season in order to get there. That's a really high number. Simple math shows it will become more and more difficult, as time goes by, for them to reverse the damage they've done by being so fucking piss-poor to date.

      As for managers, yours, Joe Maddon, has certainly been "maddening" to the Sox, but I have to concede that he, also is very, very good. Possibly better than Francona, given he's usually had less talent to work with. Don't know if it's true, but I heard that Maddon had been interviewed for the Red Sox job just before the '04 season, but lost out to Francona.

  2. Joe Maddon is something, ain't he? He was never a player in the big leagues. He spend nearly his entire coaching career before the Rays as an underling in the Angels organization. Yet, he gets the job with the Rays and turns out to be a baseball genius. Well, maybe not a genius, but a seriously good manager.

    He's one of those folks on my "I'd like to sit and chat with him/her for a couple hours" list.

    Don't fret, Psi. Look at the bright side of things. The Indians are kicking serious ass this season so far. 😉

    • PsiCop says:

      You tell me not to worry? Just when I thought the Red Sox couldn't find any more ways to lose, they come up with a new one. Wakefield — of whom I've long been a fan — just balked a run in, and Tito got tossed for arguing the call.

      Late update: Lots more hits, two errors in two innings by Lowrie, and a second balk by reliever Aceves, gives the Twins a whopping 9 runs in the 6th inning. You gotta be fucking kidding me.

      Sorry, I'm just not buying that this team is going anywhere. I'm predicting here and now that they'll end the season with an 80-82 record & 4th place in the AL East. You heard it here first.

      • PsiCop says:

        OK, so I was wrong about them finishing 80-82 and 4th in the AL East. They actually finished 90-72 and 3rd. But it still wasn't enough to get into the playoffs because — as I said above — they needed over 90 wins to make it. And they didn't.

  3. There's always next season… that is if the world doesn't end on the 21st of May. 😉

  4. I told you not to sweat the BoSox that early in the season. They've managed to gnash and claw their way to the top of the AL East. Sadly, my Rays are sinking fast at the same time. 🙁

    I've learned over the years to never count out the BoSox. They're like the fucking Energizer Bunny of Major League Baseball.

    Have a great weekend! 🙂

    GO RAYS!

    ~Eric

    • PsiCop says:

      Sorry, but I'm not convinced the Sox have things wrapped up. The manner in which they opened the season shows they're more than capable of complacency and oh-well-we-did-the-best-we-could-we-just-didn't-get-the-win thinking. And even the winning sprees they had, have been interspersed with (admittedly short) collapses during which they couldn't do anything right. Just a week and a half ago, the lowly White Sox swept them at Fenway.

      Then there are the strange, nagging injuries and the odd ways the Sox have of handling them. I have no idea what's going on with Jenks or Lackey. Both apparently started the season hurt, but we only heard about it after-the-fact, once they'd proven themselves worthless as pitchers. And Jenks is back on the DL. Pedroia had an excuse for his lack of hitting with some sort of knee injury … but no sooner do they get it checked out, than it's all better and he's back in the lineup. Huh? And I don't even want to discuss the repeated phantasmal afflictions suffered by Drew.

      In all seriousness, I have grave doubts about the Sox' medical staff. Last year's Ellsbury debacle made this evident, and while he's soaring this year, I'm not seeing anything in their approach to injuries that suggests they've changed their ways.

      The season is only about 40% over and there is a helluva lot of baseball left to play. Coupled with the Sox' historical proclivity to choke up at the end of the season, there are just too many opportunities for the Sox to be afflicted by that plague known as "the Goodenuffs." Am I a pessimist? You bet. The team's history requires that one be pessimistic about them. And the medical staff situation only makes that worse. Getting swept at home by the Chisox is another sign that they're not out of the woods yet.

  5. Oh, they definitely aren't guaranteed a place at the top for the long haul. I'm still confident the Rays will be overtaking that position shortly.

    It's amazing that in the AL East you can be playing 500 ball and still be fourth in the division. It's testament to what a tough division it is.

    • PsiCop says:

      Folks count out the Rays … with Joe Maddon at the helm … at their peril. He's as clever a manager as there is in baseball right now. The team also has some talent, even if they lost guys like Crawford and Garza during the off-season.

  6. I miss "Mad Matt" Garza, but Crawford… myeh. You can have 'em. 😉

  7. Oooh! BoSox didn't show for last night's game vs the Rays at the Trop in St. Pete. 4 – 0 Rays. 🙂 Maybe they'll show up tonight.

  8. […] me for going off-topic again and blathering once more about the Red Sox. A lot needs to be said about them, which unfortunately is not being said — […]

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