It’s August 6th, and the Red Sox are one game under .500. They are 10 games behind the Yankees, and the team has a losing record at home. Despite having a very favorable run differential and one of the most potent offenses in the league, this team simply can’t win. They’re the definition of inefficient.
When their pitchers pitch well, they don’t score any runs and they lose. When their pitchers give up 15 runs, they score 13 in a wasted effort. Personally, I blame a lot of that on the manager (sorry, Bobby V). But it’s also indicative of a team that simply doesn’t have a knack for winning with their current personnel.
And with the Red Sox failing to make a splash before the trade deadline, the writing on the wall suggests that we’ll see a plethora of moves this offseason. Here’s my three reasons why:
It’s tough to say that any GM or front office in the league is reactionary when it comes to public perception, and I’m not saying the Red Sox front office is. But there’s no doubt that the Red Sox have the most passionate fan base in baseball. And after a taste of winning, they demand that a winning team is put on the field year in and year out.
Clearly, 2011 and 2012 did not go as planned, and the fan base has been very vocal. No, this isn’t new. But as Red Sox fans again come to the realization that this season was a wash, you’re going to see some very nasty reactions.
Hiring Bobby Valentine was clearly not a popular move, and the Red Sox' general lack of significant personnel moves is starting to wear many fans thin. It just doesn’t seem as though the right moves are being made in order to make this team a contender. And most frustrating in all of this is that the team is stacked with talent.
I don’t care who you are—sure, Larry Lucchino thinks he’s a mob boss, but even he’s left with his own thoughts as he lies in bed every night—at some point the bombardment of criticism is going to get to you. Most Red Sox fans, myself included, have given Ben Cherington something of a free pass. But the Red Sox ownership team has undoubtedly become increasingly involved and the decisions they’ve made as of late have flopped.
You can’t avoid the sports media here in Boston, and these guys are only just beginning to get toasted. As the heat increases, they’ll begin to squirm.
You Can't Hide From the Facts
When I say facts, I primarily mean the team’s pitching statistics. Boston’s number one and number two starting pitchers (Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, if you need a reminder) have combined for an amazing 10-18 record with a 4.95 ERA so far this season.
When you get this production from the top of your starting rotation, you have no chance of winning—end of story. It’s clear to everyone the Red Sox' rotation needs a major change of pace. I’d expect either Beckett or Lester to be a part of a major offseason deal.
The Red Sox have proved that their recipe for success starts with developing their farm system and then supplementing the team with a few major free agents or trading for a big name or two. They weren't shy about citing the need to create internal competition in spring training this year, and they managed to do so with great success…in the bullpen.
I’d expect the Red Sox to do the same with the starting rotation next season—the formula is there, we just need Ben Cherington to run with it. The good news is that with Cherington’s experience scouting and building up the farm, he’s the perfect man for the job. I also think that Cherington is waiting for the opportunity to make his mark on the team—after inheriting the team from Theo, it would have been all too easy for him to simply blow up the roster.
I give him credit for being patient, but now it’s his chance to define his legacy as a Red Sox GM. He’s been tasked with bringing in the necessary pieces to win, and I think we’ll see him start to pull the trigger this offseason.
I understand why this season went as it did for the Red Sox, and I don’t necessarily blame anybody for the season being a wash. But after 2011 and 2012, the Red Sox have forced their own hand. I’d expect to see Ben Cherington shuffle the deck this winter.
Geoff Roberts is the Founder & Managing Editor of howiGit.com, a Boston sports blog.