It’s only May 8th, but the Boston Red Sox are 7.5 games back on the
division leading Tampa Bay Rays, and 6.0 games back on the wild card
leading New York Yankees. With a record of 15-15 (and potentially 15-16 if
the rain slows down today and the Yanks hold on to win), and having only been
above .500 for two days in the first month and a bit, it’s pretty obvious to everyone in
the AL East that if the Sox want to compete, something drastic has to happen – and it
has to happen soon, or I might just start watching Major League Soccer instead.
You can argue that the Red Sox are starting to put it together. Having swept the
Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers with strong bats and strong
pitching. J.D. Drew, Victor Martinez, and Adrian Beltre seem
to be coming together at the plate. Even David Ortiz has been smacking a
couple out of the park in the last week. Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester,
and John Lackey have seemingly started to come together. Daisuke
Matsuzaka is back from the DL and has shown signs of strength and weakness,
and even Josh Beckett had a great start to his game against the Yankees
last night, at least until he fell apart. There are signs of light at the end of the tunnel.
Then again, they were swept by the Rays at home over a four game series. They
were even swept by the Baltimore Orioles in Fenway South, and are 2-4
against a team that has been amongst the worst in baseball not just this year, but for
a long …. long time – a team the Sox have beaten 15-17 times per season almost
every year in recent history.
Offense isn’t necessarily a problem. During the off-season, talk was about a
dominant pitching staff and defense, with a relatively weak offense. So far, it’s been
the other way around. The offense has given it’s fans an average of about 5 runs a
game. In the mean time, the pitching staff has an ERA of 4.68, with 13 un-earned
runs crossing the plate. Furthermore, The Red Sox are 1-5 in 6 games they sent to
But why is everyone in Red Sox Nation worried about the future outcome of this
season? Yes, the Rays are 22-7. The Yankees are 20-8. The Blue Jays are 18-13,
2.5 ahead of Boston for third place in the division. But look on the bright side – it’s
only May 8th. Jacoby Ellsbury is injured, as is Mike Cameron. The
lineup is being shuffled continually. The pitching staff needs to find their groove. It
will happen. Eventually everything will come together and they’ll start to win again.
Beckett, Lester, and Lackey are all proven aces. Buchholz and Dice-K are strong,
strong pitchers. Beltre will find his niche at the hot corner. Ellsbury will come back
and start causing hell at the top of the lineup. The 2010 Boston Red Sox are better
than the 85-win team they appear to be at the moment.
Let’s put this season in perspective. This time last year, the Yankees were 14-15,
4.5 games back of the leading Red Sox. But starting on the 13th of May, they won 9
in a row, ultimately ending with a 103-59 season and a World Series ring. Similarly,
the Red Sox started the 2009 season with a record of 2-6, and then went on a
13-game winning streak for a final record of 95-67 and a Wild Card championship. It
can still come together. There’s still time, but this is what needs to happen:
- Stop losing against the Yankees and Rays – In 8 games against these
two teams, they’re 1-7 … all at Fenway, where they seemingly can’t lose against
any other team as long as they show up for the game.
- Start Pitching Like You Mean It – The aces on the mound will come
together and start throwing 7+ innings per game. They’re too good for it to not
happen. Buchholz and Dice-K will add a good compliment to the three J’s, and
the bullpen will come back together, especially when Bonser comes back to put a
cap on his great spring.
- Improve Defense – Beltre has 7 errors so far this season (only 14 for
him through all of last season), so he needs to improve if we have a chance of
winning. But he’s not the only problem. Martinez needs to improve his throw to
second to intimidate potential thieves (although the pitchers need to help). The
offense needs to get healthy once again and do their thing.
- Get Back Ellsbury – Jacoby is well-known as one of the best lead-off
hitters in the game. Guaranteed to steal bases, walk, and hit at a .300+ clip, he’s
essential to a good Sox team (not that Scutaro isn’t doing a great job in his
absence). Darnell McDonald, Jonathan Van Every, Bill
Hall, and Jeremy Hermida are doing a good job in the absence of
Ellsbury and Cameron, but you just can’t replace those two players in any
Do that, and we’ll be fine. Besides, the Yanks will fall, right? 🙂 Burnett can’t go two
seasons without an injury, and Vasquez will be a beautiful Yanks disappointment this
At least one can hope, right?
Great game today at Fenway. Great weather, great atmosphere. A come from
behind victory for the Bruins. After seeing that win, consisting of a last minute goal in
the 3rd period to tie it at 1, and then the game winner in extra time, I couldn’t help but
think back to Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS when the Red Sox did the exact same thing
to their life-long rival. Sure, the Flyers aren’t quite like the Yankees, but in Boston,
they’re hated pretty greatly was well. In fact, I don’t think I’d want to see the Bruins
beat anyone else at Fenway (although I would have loved to see the Canadiens or
Maple Leafs get taken down here). I don’t even think I’d want to see them beat the
Flyers in any other fashion. It just had to be like this. Pure brilliance.
I have to say – the last two days have blessed me with quite possibly two of the best
hockey matches I’ve ever seen. First, I get to see my Canadians come back from
behind against the Americans to win 5-4 in a shootout at the World Juniors, and then
a perfect encore today at the Winter Classic. And on an unrelated and yet
completed related note, I NEVER get sick of hearing Dirty Water over the
loudspeakers at Fenway. NEVER!
Did anyone else spot the funny coincidence today? Marco Sturm tapped in
the winning goal in OT, roughly around the area of the shortstop position. Is this a
good omen? One Marco instantly becomes a hero in Boston hockey lore, and
perhaps this sanctifies that very same position for Marco Scutaro for the next
2/3 years. Pure coincidence? I think not. I can already smell the Stanly Cup (Come
on Bruins – as the only Boston team to not bring home a championship over the last
decade, we need to open up the new decade with a win), and I think I smell a hint of
the World Series in October (after all, we’ve been winning on a 3-year plan lately).
Wishful thinking? I hope not.
Just look at the shirt Marco’s got on there. With a shirt as crazy as that, there’s no
way he’s not a winner. No loser could walk around in that shirt (Kind of reminds me
of Kevin Millar … maybe the time they spent together in Toronto had some
adverse circumstances on Marco. Oh well, I’m not complaining.)
And how! Don’t you agree? They’re even a good color. Now we just have to hope
that the Red Sox having to play the Phillies 6 times in 2010 doesn’t mean we have to
face the Doc twice.
7:30pm: A major league source tells Bastian that Roy Halladay might
waive his no-trade clause to join the Angels [but likely wouldn’t want to extend his
contract on the west coast].
7:19 PM: The Angels have made an offer, according to Bob Elliott of the
Toronto Sun. They’d give up Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar, and
Peter Bourjos for Halladay. Saunders and Aybar are set to become free
agents after 2012. Halladay, of course, would have to approve any deal, but one
unnamed executive implies the Angels believe Halladay would accept.
2:12pm: SI’s Jon Heyman says the Blue Jays requested Jesus
Montero and one of Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain plus more
from the Yankees for Halladay.