Bloody Sox

Red Sox Rants — and other random opinions about sports

Archive for the month “October, 2009”

Now is the winter of my discontent

The Angels beat the Yankees last night to extend the American League Championship Series to a sixth game to be played in the Bronx. Whoopee! Pardon my lack of enthusiasm, but once the Sox are out of the playoffs, my interest level falls to about the level of Rush Limbaugh’s sense of shame.

Yes, of course, I hope the Yankees lose, and I’ll be routing for the Phillies no matter which AL team they face. But I’m already more interested in what moves Theo Epstein will make this off season to prepare the Red Sox for 2010. To that end, this article by Tony Massarotti is very interesting.

Still, I need more of a Red Sox fix. Even though it has been nearly two weeks since the Sox season ended, I find myself logging onto my computer to get some news… any news… because I’ve become used to checking the box scores each night or day. Now I need to hear about a free agent signing or a blockbuster deal.

The problem is, I don’t actually expect either of those to occur this off season, so I am anticipating a long, dull (in terms of the Sox) winter, one that will be made all the worse if the Yankees win the World Series, an all-too-likely possibility.

Go Angels and Phillies! Ho, hum.

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End of an era?

The Red Sox will play no more in 2009 thanks to a shocking meltdown by closer Jonathan Papelbon. Or was it that shocking? Papelbon has been shaky all year, despite his save numbers, which look deceiptively good. I’m not saying Pap was bad… He is still one of the top dozen closers in the game. But he appears no longer dependable… i.e. he’s no Mariano Rivera. Papelbon’s best performances may well be behind him.

And sadly this may be the case with many significant Red Sox players: David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek are each in the twilight of his career.

The rest of the pitching staff is shaky, too. Jon Lester is a very good pitcher, but he can’t be your ace. Josh Beckett may never regain the form of his 2007 season, not for a whole year. Clay Buchholz looks like he’d be a good fourth or fifth pitcher, but not more than that. And Dice-K… the man the Sox have invest $100 million dollars in, didn’t even see an inning during the Angels series.

The bullpen has even bigger questions. Is Daniel Bard the heir apparent to Papelbon? If so, who takes his place in the setup roll? Billy Wagner probably won’t be back. Manny Delcarmenn regressed to the point that he was left off the playoff roster. Ramon Ramirez was good at the start of the year, but became undependable as the innings added up over the season.

So Theo Epstein has his work cut out for him in the months to come. He’s going to have to rebuild the bullpen, shore up the starting pitching, and, probably his biggest challenge, find a way to add a difference-making bat or two to the lineup. Frankly, I don’t think he will be able to turn this team around for 2010. There’s just too much work, and the farm system’s depth is a mirage. I think we’ve seen the end of an era when we could expect the Sox to make the playoffs every year, and be a legitimate contender. I just hope that the championship draught period doesn’t last 86 years.

Down two games to none…

… what will happen? After losing last night in Anaheim, the Sox frustrating season may be nearing its end.

In the past decade, the Red Sox have seemed at their most invincible when facing elimination in the playoffs. But this team feels different. It doesn’t seem to have that same fire, and even pride. They had beaten their arch division rivals, the Yankees, the first eight games of the season, then lost nine of the next 10 against them. Coming down the stretch toward the end of the season, they couldn’t beat Kansas City! I suppose the fact that they don’t let these things bother them is the one hope I have that the Sox can reel off three straight against the Angels, especially with the next two games at Fenway.

But I am not optimistic. This is a flawed team. I don’t know where the flaw is, but I can tell you where it is not: Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon. So who does that leave? J.D. Drew? Clay Buchholz?

Maybe the flaw is just in the lineup chemistry. There have been too many games when this team does not score runs… and that was the problem against the Angels the first two games of the series. It is a problem that Theo Epstein is going to have to address in the offseason. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get to start that work Monday morning.

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