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So what's wrong with the Red Sox?

Apr 19, 2010, 2:10 PM EDT

As I type this the Red Sox are down 8-2 to the Rays, and are about to lose their fifth straight game and their sixth out of seven. In ATH this morning I wrote that we’d see a bunch of “what’s wrong with the Red Sox” articles today, but I didn’t see any. With this fresh debacle to the Rays, however, I’m sure we’ll see them tomorrow.

Ah, screw it. Let’s write one of our own!  So what is wrong with the Red Sox?

  • Cold bats: As I type this the Rays game is still happening so it may get worse or may get better, but currently they’re 1 for 30-something with runners in scoring position (that one came courtesy of a Bill Hall single a few minutes ago). They’ve scored nine runs in the past five games.  Dustin Pedroia is hitting so far this season. Youkilis is doing OK too. Everyone else is snoozing. At least one of the snoozers — David Ortiz — may never wake up.
  • Health: Two-thirds of the outfield is out, Cameron with kidney stones and Ellsbury with his bruised ribs. This has contributed to the cold bats, of course, as well as some recently shaky defense. When those other “what’s wrong” articles come tomorrow morning you just watch: they’re going to say that the whole run prevention/defense approach is a failure. They won’t acknowledge that it’s hard to play good defense when two of your best defensive players are on the shelf.
  • The Competition: Like I said this morning, part of the reason the Red Sox have looked so bad over the last week is because their competition has been so good. The Rays don’t look like world beaters simply because they’ve been playing the Sox. They’re really, really good in their own right (I picked them second this year). Same goes for the Twins, who could run away with the AL Central if they keep doing what they’ve been doing. Getting beat by good teams doesn’t mean you’re fatally-flawed. It just means you’re not as good as the other guys.

But you know what? We can sit here and talk about what specifically ails the Sox all afternoon, but ultimately it may not matter. As soon as this game ends the Sox will be six games back of the Rays and 5.5 back of the Yankees. That’s an awful big hole for this early in the season in a division like the AL East.

So can what’s wrong with the Red Sox be fixed? I don’t know, but it may already be a pretty irrelevant question.

  1. Bret - Apr 19, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    They are a very old team. Scutaro, Ortiz, Drew, Cameron are all well past primes and Adrian Beltre hasn’t had a prime since he stopped using roids with the Dodgers. I’m not sure why people expect them to hit since they only have three legitimate hitters (Victor, Pedroia, Youk). This is a sign of things to come. The pitching will improve but the offense is going to struggle all year in my opinion and you can’t win many 3-2 games in the AL East no matter how good your pitching is.

  2. Evan - Apr 19, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    Their pitching will come around. Their hitting is another story. Despite his shenanigans, they never should have let Manny go.
    Of all the good things Manny can do for you offensively, he made other hitters on the team better because pitchers were less apt to pitch around people. Not re-signing Jason Bay was also a mistake. Suddenly you have a team with one fearsome hitter in Youkilis. Most teams can simply deal with Pedroia and if he doesn’t get on base, they can pitch around Youk. The Sox put too much emphasis on pitching and let their hitting fall by the wayside.
    Great pitching wins in October, but it won’t necessarily get you there.

  3. ditmars1929 - Apr 19, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    “Hats for bats. Keep bats warm.”
    A very strange thing about being a Yankee fan. On the one hand, we want the PedSox to go 0-162 every year. On the other hand, our rivalry with them is great when both teams are doing well. Adds all sorts of excitement to the season. So, I’m happy to see the Sox totally sucking, but it’s always more interesting when Yanks and Sox are beating the hell out of each other with the divisional lead at half a game.
    But whatever. For now, if the Sox are going to suck, I’ll enjoy it.

  4. Jay - Apr 19, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I wouldnt be calling Ellsbury one of their best defenders. UZR of -18.6 last year and it’s pretty obvious that for all his speed he takes some of the worst routes in the league.
    I think it’s a pretty large omission to not talk about how bad their pitching has been and how unlikely it is that they will stay so bad. Lackey and Lester have clearly not started well, but there really isn’t any indication that it’s anything other than playing some very good hitting lineups and them just not pitching great.

  5. Jeff V. - Apr 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Add in bullpen meltdowns due to injuries and you have why the O’s are doing poorly.

  6. PinstripedHippie - Apr 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Craig Calcaterra wrote: “…six games back of the Rays and 5.5 back of the Yankees. That’s an awful big hole for this early in the season.
    “…what’s wrong with the Red Sox be fixed? I don’t know, but it may already be a pretty irrelevant question.”
    Ha ha ha ha. You said it, “this early in the season.” There’s what, 150 games to play? I never heard a real team feel like it’s over with a 6 game deficit and like, half a season, or say a month, maybe 3 weeks, to go. And you’re declaring the whole think over two weeks in. HA HA HA HA HAH AHA. What an idiot you are.
    (Not that the Yankees won’t win it all. They will. But that was a given before anything. This has nothing to do with the Red Sox’s current suckiness.)

  7. ditmars1929 - Apr 19, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Jeff V, if you’re an Oriole fan, you have my deepest condolences. It’s really a shame what has happened to the O’s since Angelos took over, which I’m sure you know all about. I have a couple of friends who are O’s fans, and they can’t even watch anymore.

  8. Wayne - Apr 19, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Let me let you what the problem is.
    Bottom of 11th, tie game, base loaded, nobody out, and couldn’t score?
    This is nothing about offense, defense, pitching, or who is on DL.

  9. Jeff V. - Apr 19, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    After 0-21 back in ’88 I don’t sweat the small stuff.

  10. W - Apr 19, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    “Most teams can simply deal with Pedroia and if he doesn’t get on base, they can pitch around Youk”
    Pedroia: .309/.371/.463/.834
    Youkilis: .291/.391/.488/.879
    Teams don’t “simply deal with Pedroia” (hitting .353 with 5 HR, 13 RBI, and .390 OBP this season). Not sure where that statement comes from, especially considering how locked in he looks this season. As for pitching around Youkilis: he’ll certainly strike out around 120 times, but it still amazes me how people refuse to believe how good of a player he is.

  11. ctm - Apr 19, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    The point is that the Rays and Yankees are both REALLY good, and even if the Red Sox perform as well as we expected them to for the rest of the season, they still wouldn’t make the playoffs (assuming that the Rays and Yankees also meet expectations). Cool Standings had the Red Sox at a 20% chance of making the playoffs before today’s game, and that number will get a little smaller after losing today. They’re definitely not out of it, but right now, they’re no more likely to make the playoffs than, say, Detroit. That’s the sad part about being third best in a stacked division.
    Now stop calling people idiots after you get to read what they write for free.

  12. NotthebestGM - Apr 19, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    There are a lot of players on the Sox and on other teams that are experiencing steroid withdrawel. It will probably hit the older players the hardest, the ones that have done the most steroids in the past.

  13. yankeh8r - Apr 19, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    You guys are morons! Everybody goes hot and cold – everybody! Yankees and Rays will slump as surely as the Sox will streak. Way too effin early in the season to be talking dumb ass shit like this. See you in October!

  14. Mikey - Apr 19, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    As Jay accurately points out, Craig, it is a major (read; inexcusable) omission to ignore the failure of the SP to show up thus far. Lester has been awful out of the gate, and Lackey was a mess today. It is awful tough to compete when you spot your opponent 5+run leads. Lester will get it together, as will Lackey, Buchholz will continue to improve. The infirmary will clear out, and guys like Billll Hallll and Hermida will find their way back to the pine. The Sox may not make the playoffs, but they are not a sub-.500 team, and to count them out this early is simply silly.
    dakota danger

  15. SouthofHeaven - Apr 19, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    The Sox this year remind me of the Yankees around 2006-8: Old and complacent. They’re very talented guys, but they’ve lost quite a bit of that patented Boston fire ever since they stopped being perennial losers/underdogs.

  16. Paul H - Apr 19, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    Theo had it right – pitching and defense. They’ve had not much of either hence the dismal start.

  17. talex - Apr 19, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    This is an easy thing to answer. Theo Epstien and his crew think they are smarter than everyone else. So they decided they were going to build a team built on run “prevention”. They were going to get guys with low averages and low on-base percentages but with good gloves–Beltre, Cameron, and Scutoro; and they were going to prevent 80 runs from scoring with great defense. They did this because they screwed up the Jason Bay resigning and there was no great offensive players available for them. So they went to this: Plan B. Pitching and run prevention; thus the Lackey signing that came out of leftfield. But if you hold the other team to 4 runs a game and you only can score 3 runs per game you end up sucking really bad. What I see is that this team doesn’t believe in this new “idea” and they know they aren’t good enough to beat the good teams. Do you see any burning desire or grit in this team? I don’t.
    This is bullpen-by-committee all over again! Theo might need that monkey suit again soon if this keeps up.

  18. aceshigh - Apr 19, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    I’m a big Sox fan, but this season is already over. The ownership is content fielding a mediocre team as long as the sellout streak at Fenway continues unabated.
    Theo took some ridiculous gambles that have already failed. The starting pitching will come around but the offensive is a nonentity and the defense is average at best.
    We’re looking at a solid 3rd place finish. I’m not wasting too much time watching them this summer.

  19. Geek - Apr 19, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    I gave the Red Sox a lot of credit for letting Manny go, a team needs to sink or swim together and Manny was poison. The season is still young and other teams will have slumps. It is too early to write the Sox off.
    Don’t yell but I would have actually said good bye to Ortiz It is better to deal a year early than a year late.

  20. Moses Green - Apr 19, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Ahhh, Boston angst. How I missed your narcissistic misanthropy, your self-important premature elegies. Sweet, dirty, evil Boston, I miss you more on Patriot’s Day than any other.
    By the way Boston, it’s April 19th, and last year you started off by sweeping the Yankees. ARod was hurt, Teix was just being April Teix again, it was the end of the world. Can you retarded little Irish drunks remember back that far?
    Get a grip, Nation. Wahhh … they’re old and complacent … wahhhh … the defense first is already a failure …. wahhhhhhh.

  21. AJ Gallo - Apr 19, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    Well, no doubt I enjoy whatever slump the Red Sox go into, whether it’s early, middle or late in the season. But if anyone thinks, especially us Yankee fans, that the Sox won’t be back and fighting for a playoff spot before the season is over, is delusional.

  22. Big Harold - Apr 19, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    What’s wrong with the Red Sox;
    – Their vaunted rotation was never as good as hyped. They are better than they’ve shown the last week or so but to hear the Nation talk you’d think they have three number one starters at the top of the rotation. BS. They’re good but they were never as good as advertised
    – Their pen is mediocre at best. If the starters can’t go 6-7 innings regularly the pen will be exposed and things will get worse.
    – The defense that was described by many in the Nation as the best overall in the AL, if not all baseball turns out to be not that good after all. Again, over hyped, WAY over hyped.
    – The lineup, .. this line up is the best example of run prevention in baseball today. With the exception of Youkillis nobody scares the opposition, NOBODY. There is a reason why Youkillis is in a slump. He’s not getting much to hit because the opposing pitchers can afford to pitch around him.
    What’s to be done?:
    – The rotation will come around but they will not be as dominant as billed. Beckett and Lackey will likely pitch to the back of their baseball card but everybody else, .. it’s anybody’s guess. They’ll get better from the rotation but it won’t be enough.
    – The pen, .. better get help. Bring somebody up or trade because they need help.
    – The defense should get better, (it’d hard to get worse), but really, .. Marco Scutero? What was the Red Sox thinking? Yet another year where SS is a black hole for the Red Sox. Catcher, put Capt Bench Warmer out to pasture and get somebody who can actually throw a guy out once in a while. In fact find two catchers and make Martinez the DH. LF, trade Elsbury before he’s exposd for the defensive liability that he is, .. perhaps to the Padres for their first baseman that the Nation covets so. Give’em what they want and get it done.
    – The lineup, throw Ortiz overboard and either make Martinez the DH or try to steal Dunn from the Nats. The Red Sox need a big bat badly and they need it now. In their prime it was Ortiz and Manny that made the offense click. Manny left and the Red Sox downgraded to Bay. Now Bay is gone and they’ve downgraded to Elsbury. At the same time Ortiz got old. Maybe it was PEDs all along, (I truly hope that is not the case, I like Ortiz), maybe he’s actually older than he says. Maybe his wrist is still an issue. Regardless, he looks to be done. If the Red Sox don’t start getting production or at least a threat from the DH slot the offense will sputter all summer. There is a chance that Ortiz will get it in gear and start hitting like he did the second part of last year. There is also a very good chance that he won’t. The only thing hanging in the balance is the season.
    Frankly, either way as a Yankee fan it’s fine with me. The season is more interesting with the Red Sox in the thick of it. But, if not, it’ll be easier just having to be concerned with the Rays.

  23. RobD - Apr 19, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    Is it Brian Epstein going for cheap free agents, Nah. Is it the competition, nope. It’s the curse, that’s what it is. No, not the curse of the Bambino. That’s long gone. No, it’s a new curse. It’s the curse of the Brownbino. Ever since Massachusetts elected Scott Brown for the senate, and many of the Red Sox openly supported him. . .and his lies, the Sox have been failures. You deserves this Baston.

  24. Dan O - Apr 19, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    Puh-lease! It is April 19th – 149 games left for the Sox – I don’t think it is over yet so you can be removed from the suicide watch. The bats will come around, the chemistry needs to kick in and they still have a heck of a pitching staff…I’m not ready to cash it in.

  25. Mparkmark - Apr 19, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    Is it possible that the pitching is bad because Vtek isn’t calling the game?
    Although Martinez is an offensive force, his game calling has never been touted as a strength.
    With Vtek, that’s pretty much his only strength.
    Maybe have Martinez DH and Vtek catch.
    Later in the year when Vtek wears down, switch Martinez in. Hopefully he’ll have studied Vtek games enough to improve his pitch calling skills.

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