Shrivelling in Texas
After dropping their second game in a row to the Texas Rangers, the Sox are now in the midst of a four-game losing streak, one that has seen them slide from three games up on the Yankees to a game behind.
Normally, I would say, “Don’t panic. It’s a long season and these things balance out.” But I’ve been somewhat troubled by this Sox team all season. The offense has never been all that scary, and now it has withered to almost nothing. J.D. Drew is G.D. dreadful. Jacoby Ellsbury losing his nerve in the leadoff spot. Jason Bay looks more like J-Lo at the plate. Varitek is fading fast.
In addition, Mike Lowell and Jed Lowrie will both be used more judiciously; i.e. they’ll be sitting out more games.
As much as I appreciate the character of both Mark Kotsay and Rocco Baldelli, neither one inspires a great deal of confidence coming off the bench — at least not at the plate.
And now the Sox vaunted pitching depth is becoming suspect as well. Instead of being able to plug Clay Buchholz into Brad Penny’s spot, he has to fill in for Wakefield. John Smoltz looks his age. Neither Penny or Smoltz can get past the fifth inning, putting a lot of pressure on the bull pen, which was beginning to show wear and tear as we entered the All Star break.
I won’t go so far as to say things are bleak in Boston, but I will say that what once looked like a luxury — i.e. finding a bat for the lineup — is now beginning to look like a necessity. And that will only make Theo’s job harder, since he will have lost some of his bargaining strength. With the pitching staff getting thinner, who do you trade for that bat?
All this is leading up to this conclusion, one that has been rumbling around in my gut for a while: Theo Epstein was trying to get through this season on the cheap, and now it is catching up to him. He could have brought in a bat in the off season, or traded for one during the past few weeks. He didn’t. He stayed smugly pat with the lineup he has. Now, if he wants to salvage this season, he’s going to need to trade some of his prized prospects for a slugger.
Or he won’t. If that’s the case, I hope his confidence in this team proves well placed.