It’s been a couple of weeks or more since my last post here, an absence which is the result of a major ambivalence about this Red Sox team and the latest moves by Theo and the front office. After the gritty way in which the Sox took two of three games from the Rays last week in Tampa, I was ready to believe this team was playoff bound and ready. Then they drooped into Chicago, losing three of four to the struggling White Sox and I’m back to wondering when this team is going to play to their potential… or, indeed, if that’s exactly what they are doing.
I liked the move to bring in Billy Wagner. I was ambivalent about the trade for Alex Gonzalez, though I’d say that has reaped rewards already. I scratched my head over the return of Paul Byrd, especially when the Sox could have landed Pedro Martinez a few weeks earlier!
What is especially puzzling is the way in which almost all the players the Sox have cast away during the season (Julio Lugo, Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Mark Kotsay) have succeeded with their new teams. In fact, the way Lugo, Smoltz and the other former Red Sox, Joel Piniero, have played for the Cardinals caused me to quip in the comments section of some article over on Boston.com that the surest way to get Jason Varitek back on track offensively is to trade him to St. Louis. But seriously, doesn’t it make you wonder about the Sox coaching staff? For all the tinkering with pitch counts, do these guys really know what they are doing, or are they fiddling while Rome burns?
There is still plenty of baseball left, so there is still time for the Sox to get on track and to build momentum for the playoffs. I’m just coming to the conclusion that they really aren’t good enough and don’t deserve to be there. In fact, I almost HOPE they don’t make it, because it will be a good lesson for a lot of these players that they can’t take the post season for granted — which I think they are, given the types of responses they give to questions. For instance:
“It was a 3-4 road trip. It wasn’t like it was an abomination of a road trip, as [Dustin] Pedroia would say,’’ said [Jason] Bay. “We go home and get a chance to add to the lead that we have in the wild-card chase. I don’t think anyone’s looking much farther ahead than that. Still a good position to be in.”
Sure, they are trying to show the world they are not panicking, but they sound to me like a team that thinks they can coast their way into the playoffs and then turn on the afterburners for the run to the World Series. Or worse still, that making the playoffs is all they NEED to do. Failing to make the playoffs may give both the players and management a greater sense of urgency about 2010 during the offseason. After all, the year after the last time they missed the postseason they came back to win the World Series.