Boston Red Sox: 10 Reasons Not to Give Up on the 2012 Season
Between injuries, struggles at the plate and even pitchers just not getting their jobs done, the 2012 Boston Red Sox team has struggled to stay in contention in the AL East.
But these struggles will become the greatest assets it has to move out of the cellar and become one of the five playoff teams come September.
Guys like Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez will lead the charge back into the postseason and maybe even make some noise in October.
It may seem like a far-fetched tale, but the Red Sox have the potential to make a late-season surge with the talent missing at the moment on its roster.
Andrew Bailey Will Be Back in July
Andrew Bailey is the key to the Boston Red Sox bullpen situation.
Bailey has been a top-tier closer since he came up with the Oakland Athletics in 2009.
The only problem has been the injury bug his last three seasons.
He as at least 24 saves each season and has had a sub-2.00 ERA in two of his three seasons at the back end of the bullpen.
Once he is back as a closer, the Red Sox will have one of the deadliest bullpens in MLB. They could use Alfredo Aceves as the setup man and then use Vicente Padilla and Andrew Miller as the sixth- and seventh-inning guys.
The bullpen will be deeper, and it will be able to be the savior going forward for the ballclub. Maybe even the best in baseball.
Adrian Gonzalez Has Yet to Find His Power Stroke
Adrian Gonzalez is one of the best hitting and fielding first baseman in the entire MLB, but so far he has lacked the consistency at the plate to hit the ball out of the park.
The one thing that hurt him earlier this season was his timing at the plate.
He was raising his leg too much on his leg kick, opening up his stance way too much and rolling over every inside pitch for easy groundouts.
Right now, he is seeing the ball better, but he has yet to go on a power surge. He has hit plenty of doubles, but maybe due to constant fights with the umpires over balls and strikes he can't get into his batter's eye as he did in 2011.
Once he can focus more at the plate, instead of whether or not he is playing right field, he will drive the ball farther.
Jon Lester Has Struggled as the Ace
Jon Lester has been inconsistent since day one as the top starting pitcher of the Boston Red Sox staff.
He is 3-3 with a 3.95 ERA in nine starts.
He has walked 19 batters in 57 innings pitched and has allowed 28 runs to score.
There are still 20 or more starts for Lester, but he really needs to start limiting his pitch count earlier in games in order to battle back to ace form for the Red Sox later in the season.
Jacoby Ellsbury Has Been out Since Early April
The Boston Red Sox have been a great offensive and defensive team even without Jacoby Ellsbury.
With the return of the Gold Glove winner in center field looming in hopefully less than a month, the Boston Red Sox lineup will be that much better.
He provides some speed on the basepaths that the Red Sox have lacked all season long, and he provides some extra pop at the top of the lineup.
Mike Aviles has done his part as the leadoff guy, but Ellsbury will do his part too, once he is healthy. Ellsbury struggled early on to find his hitting stroke, so that gives him motivation to work on that in his rehab stint.
The Bullpen Has Pitched Very Well Since Mid-April
After struggling in the early part of April, the bullpen for the Boston Red Sox has been a godsend for this team.
Mark Melancon was sent down to the minors, and Alfredo Aceves has an ERA in the 20s.
But since that time, Aceves has settled into the closer's role nicely, with 10 saves in 12 chances, and the rest of the bullpen has been even better.
Vicente Padilla has yet to allow an inherited runner to score. That is a total of 15 batters left on when he comes in to relieve another pitcher. Even Scott Atchison and Matt Albers have found their form in a Red Sox uniform.
The bullpen is now fun to watch, and other additions down the road will make this team even stronger in the stretch run in August/September.
Carl Crawford Is on His Way Back
Carl Crawford has been on the DL since the start of the 2012 season, and the Boston Red Sox are ready for his return in mid-June.
Once he returns, it will solve the outfield issues that the Sox have had all season long. He will be able to play any outfield position.
He will need to step it up and take over center field in place of Jacoby Ellsbury. It is really tough to see Marlon Byrd playing out there for much of May.
He also needs to make a name for himself again on the basepaths. He needs to steal way more than 18 bases in his return and prove that he is worth the huge contract that he signed with the Sox in 2010.
Josh Beckett Has Found His Way
The golf controversy is something that will push Josh Beckett the rest of the 2012 season, and now his ace-like demeanor has returned in a big way.
Since that start when the Cleveland Indians pounded him for eight runs in less than three innings, Beckett has allowed only one run in 14 innings pitched.
His next two starts against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Detroit Tigers will need to be stellar in order for Red Sox fans to really know for sure of Beckett is back to his 2011 form.
The Depleted Outfield Will Be Back Soon Enough
Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross have earned their ways to the disabled list via a concussion and broken foot, respectively.
Now the outfield consists of Daniel Nava, Marlon Byrd, Scott Posednick and even Adrian Gonzalez.
It is really tough to see all the injuries to this Red Sox team, especially when the big money men are just earning their paycheck just sitting there on the shelf.
The outfield will be back to full health in no time, but for now the makeshift outfield will do. Fans just hope the outfielders can get the job done at the plate.
Middlebrooks Is Here to Stay
In his first game since Kevin Youkilis was activated, Will Middlebrooks got the start at third while Youkilis was the starting first baseman.
Adrian Gonzalez was out in right field to make room for Youk.
With this move, Bobby Valentine made it clear that Middlebrooks is going to be up in the big leagues for some time to come.
Middlebrooks has hit .286 with five home runs and 16 RBI since Youkilis went down on the 15-day DL with his back injury. He has played pretty good defense and will be the face at third base until he struggles and needs some work at the minor league level.
The youth has been fun to watch, and he is the bat that will save the season for the Boston Red Sox.
The Leadership Is There
Dustin Pedroia has shown through example and words that he is one of few leaders on this Boston Red Sox team.
But recently David Ortiz has made it known that he is a leader for this clubhouse.
According to ESPN.com, Ortiz gathered the Red Sox for a team meeting about two weeks ago and rallied them to their recent 9-3 record in the past 12 games.
After a great 8-6 team victory over the Baltimore Orioles, he went on a rant about what makes him a leader and that he wants recognition from the media and team ownership for what he done for this franchise.
He said that he does it for his teammates and not the recognition, but it is obvious he wants some recognition for being a strong leader for this team.
So, with multiple leaders on this squad, the collapse won't happen, because some of the players will actually step their game up to close out the season. Let's just hope the starting pitchers will want to do the same come the stretch run.