Boston Red Sox: Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, and Why the Nation Has to Worry
It is probably socially irresponsible of me to complain too much about the Red Sox. Granted, to complain about sports at all while it seems like practically everything on the planet is at the very least slightly crazy at this point in time is socially irresponsible of me.
I am speaking merely from the perspective of a Boston sports fan that doubles as an inexplicably jilted Red Sox fan.
New England has won a championship in all four major sports in less than a decade, but what can I say? I’m irritated. I know I am not alone in this feeling, though.
I, like so many other New England sports fans, have a special relationship with the Red Sox. They are the team I channel most of my fanaticism through, so as they go, I go.
I’m a wreck right now.
My emotional state is not so much because the 2011 Boston Red Sox came into this season with more hype than Spotify. It has more to do with the fact that the Red Sox looked like they were going to auto-pilot themselves to the postseason back in July.
Now, they can no longer afford to coast. October is looking like less of a lock after getting swept by the rapidly approaching Tampa Bay Rays, dropping the last five games, and going 3-10 over their last 13.
While the season is not yet doomed, it will be if things don’t turn around. Fast.
The Sox Need Josh Beckett Back..And Soon
If Jon Lester’s performance on Sunday proved anything, it was that I was right.
Jon Lester is a heart-attack ace: his numbers are there at the end of each year, but getting to that point is always a chest pain-inducing struggle.
A team with World Series aspirations cannot honestly expect a guy who has had a hard time throwing under a hundred pitches in only five innings all year long to suddenly become efficient when the regular season ends. I don’t feel confident handing him the ball first in a playoff series.
Josh Beckett, on the other hand, is much surer of a pitcher. Despite having dreadful pitching performances in both the 2008 and 2009 playoff races, he’s still a pitcher touting a 3.09 ERA, and a .940 WHIP in career postseason play. In 2003 and 2007, he was a WARRIOR.
Until this ankle thing flared up, he was going through a season with no injuries whatsoever. His back, arm and fingers have been totally fine, and that bodes well for both September and October.
Thankfully, his ankle injury does not appear to be as serious as we thought it could be. Assuming that the ankle doesn’t screw with his mechanics much, his arm will be welcomed back with….open…arms. Sorry about that one.
But What If Josh Beckett Doesn't Come Back
If Beckett suffers some sort of set back and can’t toe the rubber again in 2011, then the season is over. There will be no World Series. Josh Beckett’s health is an absolute necessity.
Without Beckett and Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox playoff rotation looks like this: Lester, Erik Bedard (solid, but doesn’t exactly create fear in the hearts of full-grown men), Andrew Miller (a pitcher’s “stuff” won’t matter if he can’t be expected to hit the side of an elephant, much less throw the ball over the plate) and John Lackey (I’d rather argue the existence of global warming with Rick Perry for the rest of human existence than watch John Lackey pitch a single playoff game).
Feel better soon, Josh.
Dustin Pedroia Needs to Find Tickets to His Own Laser Show
Around this time last month, Dustin Pedroia was accumulating more hits than Limp Bizkit on fraternity row. Now he’s heat-seeking like Vanilla Ice.
D-Ped is 3 for his last 34. It’s a big reason for the Sox recent struggles. While he’s not a leadoff hitter, Pedey’s bat has always been the rudder that steers the team.
When those violent swings of his don’t connect, it’s a huge problem. Especially in situations where he could have given his team the lead. It sure has seemed like Pedroia’s recent struggles have only been exacerbated when he’s had runners on. He hasn’t had an RBI since September 3.
As his bat has cooled off, so has the talk of Pedroia’s MVP candidacy. He can get right back into the race if he finds his stroke again. There is certainly still time, and his fierce competitiveness should get him to where he needs to be, but Laser Show needs to be more like Pink Floyd and less like a karaoke bar laser pointer.
The Red Sox Bullpen Had Promise Until September Rolled Around
I felt really good about this Red Sox bullpen at the beginning of this year. I had somehow tricked myself into believing that Bobby Jenks was a bargain of a signing. I think I need a (‘nother) psychiatrist since I am clearly delusional.
Jenks is no longer the problem, though. It’s pretty much everybody now.
Dan Wheeler’s last three relief appearances have pushed his season ERA up from 3.74 to 4.38.
On August 16, Matt Albers had an ERA of 2.84. He’s up to 4.53 now. Daniel Bard’s ERA has tacked on nearly a full run in only a matter of four September appearances. He had a sterling 2.03 on August 31. He’s currently touting a 2.88 now.
Alfredo Aceves has an ERA of 4.00 this month, and has over-achieved all
season career long.
Jonathan Papelbon has been the only guy maintaining a level of decency recently, but that’s because he hasn’t been in any save situations.
Bullpens can win a World Series practically all by themselves. There’s no chance of an electric arm coming out of nowhere to help during the stretch run, so this motley crew needs to shape up or October will be a failure.
A Leaky Boat's Worth of Problems
There’s a lot to worry about here. Red Sox Nation’s patience with Carl Crawford has run out, and he’s officially a bust. Perhaps October will mean something different for him, but…perhaps not.
Kevin Youkilis has been disappointing pretty much all season long, hitting .191 on the road, and it looks like his career is headed south at only the age of 30.
Tim Wakefield’s race for 200 wins has been like watching an old Buick trying to start up on a cold day. Close-close-close-CLOSE…DRATS! It’s a sideshow that really doesn’t mean much, and it's not helping the team’s cause.
While the Sox are still up in the Wild Card, the fan base and sports Wall Street is down on them. It’s clear that they have their reasons.