Bloody Sox

Red Sox Rants — and other random opinions about sports

Archive for the month “August, 2010”

Wait til next year — or the year after…

Here we are on the last day of August. The Red Sox are seven games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees, who are tied for the division lead, which means the Sox are also seven games out in the wild card hunt. The odds are long indeed that the Sox can come back from that much of a deficit with just 31 games remaining to be played.

Especially with the team the can field every night. If you could convince me Josh Beckett and John Lackey would start pitching to their pay scale, I might have a little more confidence, but when the only two really reliable starters are Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz — and even a brilliant pitching performance like the one Buchholz gave on Saturday doesn’t amount to anything when his team can’t hit or think.

It is easy to blame the Sox season on the unremitting list of injuries they’ve endured. But the problem goes deeper. The starting pitching — as alluded to above — has been inconsistent at best, and its hard to blame much of that on injuries. The bullpen has been abysmal, and injuries have had nothing to do with their performance. For much of the year, the fill-in players have done a pretty good job, but it seemed to me that Theo Epstein’s options for bringing in quality replacements for the injured were limited by two factors: 1. His unwillingness to part with any significant prospects; and 2. the bloated payroll that pushed the Sox into Luxury Tax territory.

All of which leads me to think this season was a marketing ploy from the start. The front office had no intention of doing what was really necessary to win a pennant. They just wanted it to look that way, so they could put fannies in the bleachers. I guess you can’t blame them for that, but I can blame them for stupid free-agent signings — i.e. John Lackey and Mike Cameron, who will be taking up over $25 million in payroll in 2011.  Add in Josh Beckett and between the three of them we’re looking at over $40 million — that’s for your fourth and fifth starter and a 38-year old center fielder.

I was going to blather on further about the troubles ahead for the Sox, but it’s just getting me depressed, so I’ll end on a positive note: I have enjoyed seeing the fill-ins contribute this year. Bill Hall, Darnel McDonald, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish have been fun to watch. They’re heroics have made an otherwise sorry season memorable. Thanks guys.

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Spaceman lands in Brockton

One of my all-time favorite Red Sox is Bill Lee, AKA the Spaceman. As a left-handed pitcher, he was the very model of consistency, winning 17 games three straight years. He was a key member of the 1975 pennant winners. He still holds the Red Sox record for most games pitched by a left-hander.

Lee earned his nickname by being somewhat unconventional. Lee was a regular quote machine. Among some of his best:

I’m mad at Hank (Aaron) for deciding to play one more season. I threw him his last home run and thought I’d be remembered forever. Now, I’ll have to throw him another.

I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won’t matter if I get this guy out.

You should enter a ballpark the way you enter a church.

At age 63, Bill Lee has joined the Brockton Rox of the Can-Am league to pitch the final game of their season on September 5. How cool is that?

Good for Mike Lowell!

Ever since last December, when the Red Sox tried to trade Mike Lowell to the Texas Rangers, the story has been what to do with the veteran third basemand and 2007 World Series MVP. Part of this is just the fact that there isn’t a whole lot else to talk about on this team, unless of course you enjoy endless speculation about Jacoby Ellsbury’s toughness. After Lowell was placed on the DL in June, I thought we’d never see him again in a Red Sox uniform. And it looked like I would be right after Lowell made several re-hab appearances for Pawtucket last week, crushing the ball, then was not activated over the weekend. It looked like he might be part of a trade — one report had him going to the Yankees via the Texas Rangers!

But Mike Lowell has re-emerged, and I am very glad to have been wrong . Unfortunately, the reason I was wrong is that Kevin Youkilis injured his thumb the other day and was put on the disabled list himself. That’s when the Red Sox brass pulled Mike Lowell out of the purgatory where they had unceremoniously thrust him to replace Youk at first base last night against the Cleveland Indians. The result, Mike Lowell got a standing ovation from the Fenway faithful as he strode to the plate for his first at bat in over a month and a half, and promptly hit a two-run homerun. He also made a great defensive play that could have been crucial in Boston’s 3-1 victory.

So far this has been a season of singular moments (Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava), and Mike Lowell provided another of these moments last night. Lowell has always been a classy player — even if he has appeared somewhat miffed this season; I mean, who can blame him? As Jerry Remy said during the telecast, Lowell has hit a lot of homeruns in his career, but few could have felt as satisfying.

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