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Loss of Youkilis adds another bump to a rough road

Aug 5, 2010, 7:00 PM EDT

The Red Sox might not be doomed yet, but the team with the eighth-best record in baseball just became an even bigger long shot to play in the postseason after losing Kevin Youkilis to a season-ending thumb injury.
In the midst of a third straight wildly productive season, Youkilis was hitting .307/.411/.564 up until hurting his thumb Monday. He ranked fourth in the league with a 975 OPS, and it wasn’t as though Fenway was really dragging his numbers up: his road OPS stood at 967.
What the Red Sox desperately need now is for Mike Lowell, a player whom the team gladly would have given away had anyone wanted to take on a significant portion of his salary, to come through with the kind of big finish that may make him put off thoughts of retirement.
After spending six weeks on the DL, Lowell homered on the first pitch he saw Tuesday against the Indians. His .214/.305/.381 line in 84 at-bats for the season is practically irrelevant, considering that he hasn’t seen steady action at any point. Still, even if he bounces back to his 2009 level of performance — he hit .290/.337/.474 in 445 at-bats — it’ll be a big drop off from what Youk has provided.
Heading into Thursday night’s action, the Red Sox are seven games behind the Yankees and 6 1/2 games behind the Twins for a postseason spot. We’ll ignore the AL Central loser for now and assume that if the Red Sox can pass one of them, they’re in.
The Yankees (67-40) currently have 55 games left, while the Rays (67-41) and Red Sox (71-47) have 54. Let’s say one of the AL East leaders falls off and plays just .500 ball for the rest of the year: 27-28 for the Yankees, 27-27 for the Rays. That would put the second-place team at 94-68. To match that, the Red Sox would have to go 33-21, a .611 winning percentage, which is significantly better than their current .565 mark.
Realistically, both the Yankees and Rays figure to play at least .550 ball for the rest of the year. They’re currently at .626 and .620, respectively. At .550, the Yankees and Rays would finish 97-65. That’s probably where the Red Sox need to be to have a shot. To do that, they’d have to go 36-18, which is .667 ball.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. The Red Sox did go 36-18 over the course of 54 games from April 23-June 19 and from May 5-July 3 (obviously, a lot of that was the same stretch). But it is a long shot, and if neither the Yankees nor Rays hit a dry spell, there just won’t be any chance at all.

  1. Stichey - Aug 5, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    Oh…sorry about that. I, like many MLB beat writers, have “Waivers Tourettes…”

  2. Ditto65 - Aug 5, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    He’s probably yelling at himself right now for being such a wuss.

  3. naz - Aug 5, 2010 at 7:56 PM

    the sox are done even the G.M.quit on them

  4. trevor_909 - Aug 5, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    “The Yankees (67-40) currently have 55 games left, while the Rays (67-41) and Red Sox (71-47) have 54.”
    Losing Youkilis might’ve been a blow, but hey, at least the Sox get to play a 172-game schedule to make up for it.

  5. Pisano - Aug 5, 2010 at 10:07 PM

    No offense , but they were done long before the Youkilis injury . Maybe you writers haven’t been watching the other injuries the Sox have suffered this year. If there was ever a team that can say wait til next year , it’s the Sox .

  6. josh - Aug 6, 2010 at 6:37 AM

    The Red Sox aren’t 6.5 games behind the Twins and don’t have 71 wins. If you need an editor, let me know what you pay :)

    Anyway, if the Red Sox finish north of 94 wins then its a great season. Its OK to miss the playoffs if its just because the teams above you win a shitton of games.

  7. CommonNow - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    Josh you must be kidding me? What do you watch because you like the color of the uniforms? Professional sports, all organized sports in fact, are about winning a championship.
    The Bosox were doomed for at least the next three years because (the media proclaimed) wonder kid (Theo) didn’t make the right moves in the ’09 offseason. It was obivous. The old guys were breaking down. The servicable players would have to make up for it. Because they had to go 110% ever day to make up, they break down themselves. It all came true.
    NOW that they HAVE to make moves the agents will have a field day with contracts. They will end up paying $$$ for some Lackey (no pun intended). This will stop them from being able to afford multiple moves…therefore look to 2013 before, god willing and new players brought in, they Bosox could have a chance to compete for the title.
    PREDICTION – I said in January the Sox would not make the playoffs. I’m saying now that the Sox will not sell out every game next year.

  8. paul - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    Their injuries would be difficult for most teams to overcome but the real problem is they played a collective .500 ball against Baltimore, Seattle and Clevleand this season. If they won at 2:1 ratio against those teams, like a good team should have, they would be in first or within a game or two of first. Even with them running out half a Triple A lineup through all of July they still had Drew, Youkilis, Ortiz and Beltre and good starting pitching. Depending on the outcome of the upcoming Yankee series I believe there is a possibility Papelbon is dealt next week. Supposedly he was run through waivers and was claimed (had to be Minnesota).

  9. josh - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    I also don’t like sports radio.

    PREDICTION: you didn’t predict the Sox would miss ~350 games from their starting 2B, 1B, LF, and CF. Its possible to go point by point through the rest, but there isn’t any real joy in arguing with walls. So…

    PREDICTION: In most simulations for 2011 (CHONE, ZIPS, PECOTA, MARCEL, WHATEVER), the Red Sox will be one of the top 2 teams in the AL. Just like they did in 2010. In other words, they will put together another 95 win team in April 2011, and all non-emotion based analysis will basically concur (though the average wins will be at the 93 mark because all projections basically regress too much to the mean).

    PREDICTION: people who write “wonder kid (Theo)” generally are either non-Sox fans who like to goad Sox fans, or bitter old Sox fans who secretly don’t really like that the Sox won two WS titles in the aughts. OK, that wasn’t really a prediction (as #1 wasn’t either), but I like the all caps.

  10. josh - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    Papelbon would have had to been traded within 48 hours of being claimed, so not only is it unlikely, but I don’t think its possible anymore (or won’t be by the time the Yankees series is done).

  11. Ace2000 - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    What a bunch of nonsense. This was a damn fine team that just fell victim to really crappy luck. The key pieces that went down (Ellsbury, Pedroia, Martinez, Beckett, Youk) are far from old, and hardly breaking down. As for the offseason moves, Beltre has exceeded even the most wildly optimistic expectations, and Scutaro has been quite serviceable at SS. It was a fairly weak market talent-wise last season, and I think Boston was smart to not sell the farm for a couple of middling upgrades. (There’s a lot of talent on the way from their minor league system.) The fact that they’re remained competitive in the toughest division in baseball is extremely impressive, all things considered. (And how quickly we forget the two championships under Theo, not to mention the perennial playoff contention!)

  12. BC - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    They’ll be fine in 2011. Lowell comes off the books at I think around $10 mil. Big Papi is another $13 mil – I think the option is worth more than that – so you have a decision there. V-Mart comes off the books at like $9 mil. So conceivably you have $20-$30 mil available to spend and still be salary-neutral. Who’s to say they don’t go get Prince Fielder and throw $22-25 mil his way, then pick up another spare part or two. Their whole pitching staff – save for Papelbon is signed for a while, and you have Bard there to step in if needed. They’ll be fine.

  13. paul - Aug 6, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    You are correct. Only if a player passes through without being claimed then he can be traded at any point.

  14. paul - Aug 6, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    Do you try to make a deal with Beltre? Do you move Youk to 3rd? Any trade for an Adrian Gonzalez is going to start with a combination of Ellsbury, Kalisch, Casey Kelley and get bigger from there. V-Mart? Invest that money in Fielder? There is no catching to be had out there. Most teams are in that boat. This is going to be the biggest off season in recent memory for the sox.

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