One unhappy Red Sox fan
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 22:04
This was quite a weekend in Boston.
Cheers for the 100-year celebration of Fenway Park turned to a chorus of boos when the Red Sox lost for the ninth time in 13 games. As an encore, the Red Sox let a 9-0 lead slip away in the latter innings on Saturday. Six Boston relievers allowed 15 runs over a three-inning span against their rival Yankees. Outside of Pedro returning to Fenway, Sunday’s rainout may have been the highlight of the weekend.
Despite a $173 million payroll, the Red Sox are the fourth best team in their division with very little to look forward to. The contracts of John Lackey and Carl Crawford — thanks, Theo — will be on the books until 2015 and 2017. These ill-advised deals, combining for over $200 million, among others, restrict Boston’s ability to patch their sizable and numerous holes entering 2012.
The first issue that needs addressing is the bullpen.
Headline offseason acquisition Andrew Bailey hasn’t had a fully healthy season since his ’09 rookie campaign when the Athletics abused his arm in a fashion that would make Dusty Baker cringe. Alfredo Aceves, recently the sixth best starter/rubber arm for the Yankees and Red Sox, is masquerading as a closer. Mark Melancon entered the season as the set-up man, but took a quick path to obscurity and can now be seen pitching in Pawtucket. We in New England call that the Bobby Jenks career path.
The rotation features a solid 1-2 punch in Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, but there is nothing but question marks once you get past the two. Clay Buchholz reached 100 innings just once since his 2006 debut. Rookie Felix Doubront could establish himself as a middle-of-the-rotation arm, but could just as easily falter and fill a bullpen role.
Daniel Bard has the talent but whether he’s suited for a rotation spot is up in the air. He may be yanked and tossed back to the ‘pen before we have the chance to really find out. Batting practice tossers Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka lurk as potential replacements for later in the year.
When healthy, the daily lineup is a bright spot, though it’s not without its warts. For starters, Kevin Youkilis is aging at the rate of an NFL running back. He hasn’t seen 500 at-bats since 2008, and at 33-years-old he isn’t the same defensively, especially at third base.
Without Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, who will be out for a while, the lineup becomes ordinary and slow. On the bright side, Cody Ross is a solid signing and JD Drew is pulling a hammy on his own time, so that’s something.
While I may just sound like a disgruntled fan — and I am — some of the decisions made by the Red Sox in recent seasons are truly baffling. Hindsight is 20/20, but common sense is 15/20.
John Lackey was never anything special, but he was given ace money at 82.5 million over five years. At 29-years-old Carl Crawford received 20 million a year for seven seasons. His best asset is speed, the first tool baseball players generally lose. Last year he only attempted 24 steals, down from his average of 66 the previous two seasons. Given his inability to hit lefties he could be a platoon player by the end of his contract.
If you’re holding out hope that this slow start will quickly turn around a la 2011, don’t. A third place finish should be considered a success at this point. The first step is admitting the problem, and hopefully the Red Sox will stop throwing money around like they got a new ballpark in Miami. Here’s to the Xander Bogaerts and Ryan Lavarnway show in 2014.