The poor showing by the Boston Red Sox in the three game series at Fenway against the Yankees just before the all-star break was enough to convince me this team didn’t have the game in them to make a real playoff push. They lost two out of three and simply looked underwhelming in a series that was crucial to their fate.
But even I didn’t expect them to be as bad as they have been coming out of the break, losing four to the Los Angeles Angels, and looking completely over-matched, like Northeastern University looks when they play the Sox in the opening exhibition game in spring training. No, I take that back. Northeastern looks excited to be playing that game. These Sox look apathetic and tired.
The players take a lot of the blame for this, of course. But ultimately, it is the front office, led by GM Ben Cherington that put this collection of over-fed, under-performing fat cats together.
I saw no evidence of a plan when he built this team over the winter. It appeared haphazard, with the only goal being not to sign anyone to more than a five-year contract. So, while they let Boston legend and World Series hero Jon Lester leave town, they paid a combined $150 million for Rusney Castillo and Rick Porcello. And though they committed to Castillo, they paid another $90 million for Hanley Ramirez, who would occupy an outfield spot and pretty much assure that Castillo or Mookie Betts would spend the year in the minors. Are you going young, or are you stuffing worn out veterans into the lineup? Cherington could not make up his mind, apparently.
And speaking of worn-out veterans, there’s Pablo Sandoval, who already looks like one might have expected him to look toward the last years of the contract, not the front end. Where are they going to hide this guy next year and the year after and the year after that? He can’t keep playing third base.
It is so easy to find complaints about how this team has been handled. Why didn’t the club insist Dustin Pedroia take a rehab stint? He has yet to have a hit since coming off the DL on Friday. Where has Brock Holt been? It’s like the team is trying to keep the lid on their loan All-Star.
Well it really doesn’t matter at this point, because this team has no chance to make the playoffs. They will, however, come alive for the last few weeks of the season, when it no longer matters, because that’s just the way they do it.
The real problem at this point is that the team barely has anyone of value that they can trade for future pieces. Really, who would give any player of value for anyone from the Red Sox? And even that doesn’t matter too much, because I don’t think Ben Cherington has the skill to swing a trade that results in good return. (Think John Lackey for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig.)
So we’re really left watching the youngsters on the team, and keeping our fingers crossed that they begin to fulfill the promise we’ve been told about.
Tonight an exciting rookie makes his major league debut. But Brian Johnson hasn’t pitched in 15 days. I will not be surprised if he looks rusty against the hard-hitting line-up of the Houston Astros. In short, this feels like a mis-management of the youngster. But that’s another story.