Posts Tagged “american league east”

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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