Welcome to another edition of the State of the Sox Blog. Well this week, it looks like the Red Sox playoff hopes are dwindling, so today I will look at their problems and how to resolve them.
Addressing the Issues
Well the team that had been projected to not only win the American League East, but to win the World Series is certainly falling fast of their hopes to meet those expectations as the Boston Red Sox sit back five-and-a-half games back of New York in the American League East. Over the 2008-09 offseason, Boston had picked up Rocco Baldelli, John Smoltz, Brad Penny, and Takashi Saito along with awarding extensions to Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia.
Alongside with the extensions, the only player that was worth picking up was Takashi Saito because Baldelli has succumb to being on the disabled list, Brad Penny has not been consistent, and Smoltz was a disaster. Looks as if the high risk, high reward theory that Boston lives by may have failed our hopes for this season.
On the other hand, New York had gone all out and signed CC Sabathia, Mark Teixiera, and A.J. Burnett who have all been substantial parts to the Yankees this season. Even as ridiculous as it seemed to spend almost half a billion dollars, New York certainly was not only looking at winning this season, but for many years to come as CC Sabathia and Teixiera are both in their primes.
Then we move on to the Trading Deadline as New York had been sitting on top of the American League East and Boston was in an offensive slump. Therefore, they had aquired Victor Martinez in exchange for Justin Masterson and two prospects, which was really a bargain for Boston.
Then the Yankees got Jerry Hairston Jr. for versatility on the bench. Though Martinez has hit well so far, he has been inconsistent alongside the rest of the batting order who were heading into the vital part of their schedule. They were swept by Tampa Bay and they are already going to either be four or six games behind the Yankees depending on what goes down tonight in the Bronx.
It was best put on Todd Civin's article that I read today that basically said that Boston's shopping on the clearance rack on free agents may have cost them their playoff hopes.
Now moving on to another Boston issue is their injuries and inconsistency. Injuries have put down Jason Bay, Tim Wakefield, Rocco Balldelli, Mike Lowell, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jed Lowrie who were all supposed to be essential parts to this 2009 Red Sox campaign. The starting rotation now needs excellent games from both Josh Beckett and Jon Lester because the rest of the rotation leaves many questions. With all of that said, Boston has to resort to bringing up Clay Buchholz, Enrique Gonzalez, Junichi Tazawa, and Josh Reddick to help this team where it counts.
Their farm system is great, but do you really want to put vital 15 inning games in the hands of a man in his lower 20s because chances are that he'll blow the game. The kids get nervous and they will make more mistakes.
Also, at the Trading Deadline, Boston just did not do enough. They gave up an important part of their bullpen in exchange for another catcher/first baseman and they traded a first baseman in LaRoche for another first baseman in Casey Kotchman who can only play first. Makes you wish that Kotsay were still here, huh? I have a crazy idea for Epstein, why not trade LaRoche for a shortstop or a relief pitcher?
It would have helped if they attempted to get Orlando Cabrera or Cristian Guzman for a lower level prospect. To simply put it, they just have too many problems that the waiver Trading Deadline can not fix. We really could use the services of Lugo and Kotsay right now.
Fixing the Problems
How can they solve this problem and let them be contenders in the Wild Card? Well, I do not think they can do much. Boston needs a quality starting pitcher, a solid reliever who can eat up innings, a shortstop, and a middle infielder for the bench because Nick Green has been struggling. There is no chance that Epstein can fix these problems unless they do something drastic, which I doubt they will do because they have completely overvalued some of these prospects.
Above all of those problems, I just do not think it is that fun to be a Red Sox player anymore because the clubhouse just does not sound as fun as it once was. J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Nick Green, amongst others really remind me of past Yankee teams and ironically, New York reminds me of the "Idiots of 2004."
A bunch of fun guys like Sabathia, Damon, and Rodriguez throwing pie at each other and it seems like they have so much chemistry and have fun in the clubhouse. It may not seem like a big deal, but if you are not enjoying this experience, it will alter your performance.
With the Rangers and Rays on their back, Boston really needs to get these bats hot as they have not scored a run in their past 24 innings played. The starting pitching in this series from Buchholz and Beckett were phenomenal, but they need to score runs. There is not much the Sox can do to improve, but become more motivated and start swinging the bats. They need to forget about this ongoing Ortiz dilemma and if this affects his performance, then bench him for the time being so that Lowell, Varitek, Youkilis, and Martinez play.
Speaking of Youkilis, please keep him out of left field as that was the most preposterous thing I have seen in a good while. Their only hopes are to have Bay come back healthy and to get some quality starts from Buchholz, Penny, Byrd, and presumably Matsuzaka.
In reality, there is little hope to win the AL East and their Wild Card hopes may be dwindling, so hopefully the bats can start heating up and they can get some consistency from their minor league players.
DJ Rallo is hoping to start a mailbag regarding Major League Baseball. If you would like to send in a question, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or PM me.