Boston Red Sox Are in Serious Trouble, and Here's Why
The Boston Red Sox are 9.5 games out of first and tied for last place in the AL East, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that they only boast one All-Star this season.
2012 hasn't gone according to plan, with David Ortiz acting as one of the lone bright spots for this team.
A large portion of the rest of the roster has succumbed to injury and/or ineffectiveness, dampening the high hopes once held for this team.
If the Red Sox are to dig themselves out of this win deficit they will need to address and overcome these five areas of major concern.
Already Tapped the Farm System
The Red Sox undoubtedly have one of the most productive prospect pipelines in the majors. Former GM Theo Epstein did a heck of a job keeping Pawtucket, Portland, Lowell and Salem well-stocked and primed to contribute to Boston's roster.
Jon Lester, Clay Buchholtz, Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish have all come through the Sox' farm system since 2006.
It seems that nearly every year a new name joins the list and Will Middlebrooks made sure the trend continued in 2012. The 23-year-old could no longer be contained in the minors and has been just as hot through 171 at bats with Boston.
Replacing longtime starter Kevin Youkilis at third, Middlebrooks has absolutely abused the leather thrown at him. He's hitting at a .298 clip with 10 home runs and 37 runs batted in. Middlebrooks has had nearly half the at-bats of Adrian Gonzalez and only trails him by eight RBI.
If all goes to plan he'll continue growing into his new role, but Christmas came early on Yawkey Way this year. With Middlebrooks already called up there's no guarantee that another prospect will make the same climb.
Ryan Lavarnway is likely major league ready, but he's also blocked by a hot-hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Most other highly touted prospects in the system are years away or simply don't have a fit right now.
The Red Sox tapped their reserves early and may now be without a late-season call-up.
The 2012 season has been a tough one to watch thus far as the Red Sox sit in the basement of the AL East.
They do top one chart though, as Boston has placed a league-high 19 players on the disabled list this season.
Nine of those assignments have been on the 60-day DL, compounding the issues already at hand. The season's relative halfway point has been reached, yet the Sox have already dealt with more injuries than last year.
It's been an expensive set of ailments, both on the field and in the wallet, as Joe Halpern of the Boston Business Journal reports.
With the Red Sox payroll exceeding $146 million this season, the fourth highest in the majors, the Boston Business Journal Research Department calculates that Boston has over $55 million worth of its roster currently sitting it out while nursing injuries.
The Baltimore Orioles are second in the AL East, just let that one settle in.
For fans who believed the East would provide a three-headed race in 2012, the emergence and stamina of the Orioles this season must surely come as a surprise. They may not be able to maintain this level of play, but it's clear for now at least that the level has been raised.
Baltimore hasn't made the postseason for 14 years, but they have an intriguing set of puzzle pieces that can make them a torn in the side of any club.
Are the Orioles going to be the sole reason Boston doesn't make the postseason? Very unlikely, but their early success this year has to be concerning. The AL East was hard enough to win back when it was a two horse race with New York.
Adrian Gonzalez's Power Outage
Mike Aviles, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Will Middlebrooks, Cody Ross, and David Ortiz.
What do all of these players have in common? They've got more dingers than Adrian Gonazalez, the owner of six long balls this season.
Gonzalez has hit 40 homers before and he's hit 30 or more four times in his career. His swing was said to be tailor made for Fenway, and he collected 27 home runs last year.
Power-wise, Gonzalez's 2012 season compares to 2005. In 150 at bats he collected six home runs, 17 RBI and a .227 average. That's what makes his 2012 stat line so confusing.
He's carrying a .283 average, just a tad under his career average and has put the ball in play. He's got the second most RBIs on the team with 45, but the lack of a deep ball has really minimized his value.
Boston needs Gonzalez playing at full throttle to dig themselves out of this mess.
Bullpen Severely Outperforming Rotation
There seems to be a simple rule in play when considering the 2012 pitching staff. There isn't a single pitcher with 50 or more innings who owns an ERA below 4.41.
That's an unacceptable mark for the starters in the rotation and it's a real shame that the bullpen's success is being overshadowed and undervalued because of it.
Scott Atchison, Franklin Morales, Matt Albers, Vincente Padilla, and Alfredo Aceves have had very respectable seasons to this stage. It's concerning because the bullpen has historically been the issue which makes long term confidence hard to earn.
The starters are too often leaving their bullpen out to dry and that's not a trend that can continue moving forward.
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