The photo I chose for this story is all too familiar. David "Big Papi" Ortiz is walking back to the dugout after a strikeout. Ortiz has started this season in a slump, hitting .171, with 0 HR and only 2 RBI. Ortiz's team, the Boston Red Sox, has also started the season in the slump. The Red Sox are currently 4-8, and the Pirates (gasp!) have a better record than Boston right now.
The Red Sox are playoff contenders each year, and this slumping start has been a disappointment to Red Sox nation.
Why are the Sox sucking?
The Sox are currently 6th in hitting, which isn't bad at all, but it isn't something to be entirely proud of either. The Red Sox are having a much harder time with their pitching, their team ERA is 4.29, which is 10th in the American League.
The best players on the Red Sox are not producing well either. As I said, Big Papi is hitting .171 with only 2 RBI. Two members of the Red Sox' starting rotation, Jon Lester and Tim Wakefield, are producing very poorly. Lester is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA, while Wakefield, whose knuckleball is the best in the big leagues, is 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA.
Hitters you would expect to produce are not producing either. Kevin Youkilis, the perennial all-star first baseman with the funky stance, is hitting .238 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. Mike Cameron, who the Red Sox picked up in free agency this winter largely due to his Gold Glove and physical fitness, is hitting .233 with 0 HR and 0 RBI. Victor Martinez, who was acquired in a blockbuster deadline trade last summer, is very surprising. Martinez, who normally has a lot of power, has a .224 average, 1 HR, and 4 RBI.
In essence, the big bats on the Red Sox aren't hitting, and the moderately big arms aren't pitching. There have been signs of hope, as Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox' 5'9", 180 pound boy-man, is tearing it up. Pedroia is hitting .367, and is tied for fourth in the majors league home run race with 5 dingers. He is leading the Red Sox in homers and in RBI, having 5 HR and 13 RBI.
The biggest arms in the Red Sox rotation are pitching fine also. John Lackey, the Red Sox' biggest free agent acquisition, is leading the team in ERA and win percentage. Josh Beckett, the Red Sox' ace, is 1-0 with a very respectable 3.86 ERA.
Jonathan Papelbon is doing fine at closer as well. Papelbon is 3 for 3 in save opportunities, and has lost only 1 game. He owns a good 3.38 ERA.
So are the Sox worried yet? I think not, as some of their players are slow starters, and it is still very early in the season. But the Red Sox need production from their stars to be able to succeed this year.