Boston Red Sox: 5 Things That Need to Change for Them to Win the Division

Collin BerglundCorrespondent IIIMay 20, 2011

Boston Red Sox: 5 Things That Need to Change for Them to Win the Division

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15:  Jed Lowrie #12 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees during their game on May 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Boston Red Sox started the season slowly, but have caught fire recently to bring their record back over the .500 mark.  In order to maintain their success and win the AL East, a number of things will need to happen.

    The Red Sox pitching has struggled so far.  Their two free-agent acquisitions—Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez—have had mixed results.

    This season, any result other than a division win will be unacceptable to fans—although they might not get too upset if they win the World Series off the wild card.

Carl Crawford Must Hit Like He's Back in Tampa

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14:  Carl Crawford #13 of the Boston Red Sox looks on before playing the New York Yankees on May 14, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Carl Crawford is batting .212 this season and has only stolen six bases.  For his career, Crawford has batted .294 and stolen over 50 bases five times.

    Although Crawford has improved his hitting lately, he is still hitting in the No. 8 hole toward the bottom of the lineup.  As the season progresses, he will have to move up in the lineup and take on a more significant role.

Get Pitchers Healthy

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 05:  John Lackey #41 of the Boston Red Sox walks into the dugout after he was pulled from the game against the Los Angeles Angels on May 5, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    With John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL, the Sox have to rely on unproven commodities at pitcher.

    Although Lackey and Matsuzaka have struggled to pitch quality innings this season, their experience is far more valuable.

Clay Buchholz Must Pitch to His Potential

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up a home run to Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees who is rounding the bases during their game on May 13, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York C
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Clay Buchholz has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the MLB.  While he has shown flashes throughout the past few seasons, he has yet to put it together.

    Lester and Beckett have been pitching well this season, but when Buchholz is at his best, he can be better than any pitcher on the staff.

Relief Pitchers Must Pitch Better

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 19:  Dan Wheeler #35 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 19, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The bullpen was supposed to be one of the Red Sox greatest strengths this season.  Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler were supposed to add veteran experience to a staff anchored by proven closer Jonathan Papelbon and wunderkind Daniel Bard.

    That has not worked out so far with both struggling through injury concerns and poor performance.  If both pitch to their potential, the Sox bullpen can dominate the late innings.

Clarify Batting Philosophy

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15:  Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox throws out Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees to end the game and secure a 7-5 win during their game on May 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Red Sox have a patient hitting philosophy that has hurt them so far this year.  Kevin Youkilis might be "The Greek God of Walks," but he has struck out 41 times in 135 at-bats this season.

    The Sox have taken pitches that they could hit.  Instead of driving runs in, they often take pitches that lead to weaker hitters striking out or stronger hitters taking walks instead of batting runners on base in.

    The philosophy has been good to the Red Sox in the past.  Even so, this season, a more aggressive approach at the plate could work wonders for the Sox.