Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Misery Loves Company: Red Sox Suck, Too

So it's not just the Cardinals and Dodgers who are performing below expectations in 2014! As Buster Olney writes, so are the reeling Red Sox (link insider only):

BOSTON -- In the midst of a year in which almost everything went right for the Boston Red Sox, there was a game last season when everything went wrong. Cliff Lee went into Fenway Park and stuck it to the Red Sox on May 28, needing just 95 pitches to complete eight innings, and afterward the Boston players went into problem-solving mode. The hitters could've focused better, they agreed; the at-bats could've been better. They never really put any pressure on Lee. They resolved that they would be better, that they would do better. And they were better.

That was a conversation that wouldn't have even happened if the players hadn't believed there was room to grow with the group in the clubhouse, and in 2014, a season in which very little is going right for the Red Sox -- other than the collective struggles of their division opponents -- it would be interesting to know for sure if the Boston players believe this group can improve quickly enough. It would be interesting to know if the players believe this roster has the ability to solve the immediate problem of run production.

Jacoby Ellsbury is gone, and to paraphrase Rick Pitino, he's not coming through Boston's clubhouse door anytime soon. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit 14 homers and drove in 65 runs last season and helped balance the lineup, is gone. The Red Sox repeatedly made overtures to Stephen Drew during the offseason, into the dawn of January, without gaining any traction -- and besides, there is no guarantee that Drew would provide immediate help for Boston after not playing the last seven months.

The Red Sox hitters have to fix themselves; there are no magic elixirs available, at a time when David Ortiz is the only member of the lineup meeting expectations. Jackie Bradley Jr. is really struggling, and Xander Bogaerts is not yet having the offensive impact that some of the veterans expected after they watched him last October. But nobody else is lighting it up, either.

Dustin Pedroia's OPS is the lowest of his career. Shane Victorino has battled injuries. Mike Napoli hasn't homered since he clubbed a rocket off Masahiro Tanaka on April 22. Mike Carp's OPS is down more than 200 points, Jonny Gomes' is down by almost 50, the No. 5 spot has been a major problem, etc., etc., etc.

The Red Sox scored 57 runs more than any other team last season, and as of this morning, they are 16th in the majors in runs, a stunning decline. That's not all on the front office for not re-signing Ellsbury, and it's not all on Bradley or Pedroia.

It's on just about all of them. And they're the only ones who can fix it.

They were problem-solvers last season. They've got about 4½ months to get it right in 2014, starting Tuesday against Toronto.

I am not that fond of the Red Sox in general, but I do appreciate that Olney is putting their turnaround on the players. It makes me think, who on the Dodgers' team is going to step up and galvanize the team to start playing better and with more urgency. Who will lead?


Steve Sax said...

FWIW I think this is the time that Kemp should lead

Dusty Baker said...

I think this is the time that Kemp should hit the damn ball.