Shaking off a bad Sox Season
Been a long time since we've had a Sox post, and we're due. Before we look ahead, one must look back. I have to say, even as one of the Fenway Faithful, it was HARD to watch the team last year. It's not that they were unlikable - (of course they were unlikeable. They didn't win! "loveable losers" is not even a possible notion). It's not that they were losing. It was HOW they were losing. Watching Baseball played badly is like sticking an ice-pick in your arm every couple of minutes. Have a lead? Bullpen blows it. (ice-pick). Can't get your starting pitcher out of the first inning without giving up a crooked number? (multiple ice-picks). Extra inning game you lose on a bad call? (ice-pick). Injuries pile up to your favorite players? (more ice-picks).
Yep, hard to watch they were.
How's does last place feel? Like Christmas
We were even denied a true Booby V. season (not a typo). I had at least hoped for some press jousting, name calling - some sort of memorable moments from a hard-charging, my-way-or-the-highway, type manager. When did Bobby V turn into such a wus? It seemed clear to me that Bobby was adept at recognizing young talent and bringing them along, and he managed with what he had, but he got his legs cut out from under him early (thanks to Pedroia and Cherrington) and whimpered all the way to the end of the season. Shame.
Peering into the Red Sox Hazy Future
It's all in the books now though. Soon, it will be cold, and the team will be assembled and the rite of Spring, with the hope that it brings, will start anew. But as the year ends, I'll try to use some of my extra time to see what the forthcoming season might look like. Here's the short version. We still aren't very good. Here's why.
I'll look at the lineup in more detail next time, but let's start with a basic admission:
Who the hell were those guys? For about four months, the lineups were held together with some very good AAA players. Great guys. Good pieces. But not everyday players. Just too many of them to win with.
Look here, this will be fun to look at:
Originally Projected starting player/AB in 2012 with the Sox
2B Dustin Pedroia /563
Notes: Yay, Dustin. You lead the team, with 140 games of AB's. Not quite a full season, but...
SS Mike Aviles/ 512
Notes: An everyday player, he posted a .663 OPS. Where does that rank in the AL among qualified short stops? 8 out of 11 qualifiers. Not good enough by far. Of course, if/when Iglesias is starting, I'll be DREAMING about getting Aviles back. Sigh.
DH David Ortiz/324
Notes: What a season for David! The half he played, of course. The other half, not so much.
CF Jacoby Ellsbury/303
Notes: Another half season player. But no MVP talk this year with a .370 Slugging!!!!!
LF Carl Crawford/117
Notes: I'm sure Crawford thinks Boston is cursed. Without a place in the lineup from the get-go, things went from bad to worse as he played this year in just 31 games. Can you say happy to leave?
Basically a year where the talented guys couldn't stay on the field, and the less talented guys failed to fill the leaks in the dyke well enough. We'll look at this more later, but now we'll look at the central issue. The pitching.
They STUNK. Will they Stink?
The Red Sox could not pitch a lick last year. Not a lick. They managed, in ERA, to outpitch just 3 teams in MLB. The Indians, the Twins, and The Rockies. When I look at that statistic alone, only one thought circles in my mind endlessly.
It's a long climb back up.
With an ERA that bad, it means you have problems everywhere. Starters, relief, closing and probably catching too. Where to start? Start at the top I guess.
Clay Buckholz and John Lester are your #1 and #2, but you would have to be licking the bottom of the punch bowl to think that they are going to have a season where they carry the team like Pedro and Schilling did oh-so-long ago. Can they be good? They are good. Can they be great? Both of them? In the same year? That's another question entirely, and the chances are just very small. They will need help. Let's look at the calvary.
Felix Dubront. First year in the rotation was a success. 29 starts, 160 innings, and an ERA just short of John Lesters. (4.86) He will need to improve mightily.
Franklin Morales. He convinced me he deserves to start. I hope he does.
John Lackey. Gulp. Gulp again. I used to be positive about pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery. Then I watched Dice-K pitch this year. Truth be told? 160 innings and a 4.7 ERA and I'm ECSTATIC for John Lackey.
OK, that's really hard to think about. So let's peek at the bullpen.
Closing: Andrew Bailey. If he can get on the field. And stay there.
Set-up: Tazawa. You earned it kid.
And we have a mess of 5-6-7 inning guys. But who doesn't in December?
That's who they got folks. And it gets better: There's no free agents this year who will help that mess. No one in AAA banging at the door to start until maybe the middle of next year. So we're banking on a trade. We'll have to hope that Cherrington has something up his sleeve for a true #2. (I'm just assuming an #1 type deal doesn't exist). But I'm skeptical - there's so few of those guys available, and you have to give up a ton.
We need to face facts here folks. A lot has to go right for these guys - basically the same guys from last year - to shave a full point off the team ERA. Anything can happen, but it's not realistic. Best case is the bullpen carries the team (like Baltimore's did last year), and glosses over the lack of dominating front of the rotation guys.
So if it's all for naught, what do we have to look forward to? Well there is this......
Misery loves company!