Boston can officially stop looking for scapegoats. The Red Sox nor their manager did nothing "wrong" in this game, except that one of their supposed ace pitchers didn’t pitch. When Clay Buchholz gives up five home runs, not even the combined brainpower of John McGraw, Casey Stengel, Earl Weaver and Bobby Cox could manage a team out of that hole.
Simultaneously, the Sox offense, which was second in the league in walks drawn last year, didn't take a single free pass off Yankees pitching.
Last year, they drew one or zero walks in about 15 percent of their games. So far this year, they have already done so three times in 13 games. Overall, their team walk percentage is down only a fraction, but clearly, some hitters are pressing.
It’s still early—every bloody story we write until the end of the month should probably bear that label—but the Sox are still waiting for their catchers, left fielders, center fielders and third basemen to hit. With Jacoby Ellsbury out for the foreseeable future, some of that just isn’t going to happen.
Meanwhile, prospects Will Middlebrooks (.368/.390/.684) and Ryan Lavarnway (.267/.400/.422) are sitting at Fenway. The Sox fear the latter’s defense, and the former is currently blocked by Kevin Youkilis, but heck, they should get him shagging fly balls ASAP. Anyone remember Graig Nettles, one of the greatest defensive third basemen of all time?
He played a lot of outfield his first few seasons while Harmon Killebrew manned the hot corner. He was traded to the Indians at roughly the same moment the Indians had come up with another future Gold Glove third baseman in Buddy Bell, so Bell played right and center fields to make room for Nettles.
The point is, teams find ways to get extra bats into the lineup all the time, and the payoff on offense is often greater than the loss on defense. The Red Sox, now 4-9, really need to shake up their league-worst pitching staff far more than they do their offense, but the depth just isn’t there to do so.
Until they figure out how to overcome that deficit—and they may never do so, because sometimes a lack of pitching is just a lack of pitching—the Red Sox can at least try to bash their way to success. Something is probably better than nothing, and it’s definitely better than throwing more invective at the manager, who, it's increasingly clear, isn’t brilliant, but also inherited a mess.
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