Ok, I’ll stop (at least for now). While most fans are calling WEEI, bitching, complaining, and somehow pinning this on Theo Epstein, I’ve done my own pondering and have given you the top five reasons for the current nightmare that is haunting Fenway.
5 – Injuries – It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if your team is bitten by the injury bug they are going to be in the shit. The Sox have 15 players on the disabled list, and this isn’t counting the banged up Kevin Youkilis. Losing Andrew Bailey, Carl Crawford, and Jacoby Ellsbury is obviously killing this team (and forcing them to start scrubs like Ryan Sweeney and Marlon Byrd), but I think players who some might think are less significant are doing damage of their own. With pitching the struggling (I’ll get to that), and not having the option of Bobby Jenks, Andrew Miller, Rich Hill, and even Daisuke Matsuzaka the Sox pitching staff is handcuffed.
4 – No Closer – I know the first thing any Red Sox fan will say when you mention the closer issue is “We traded for Andrew Bailey.” I know that, I’m not an idiot. It still doesn’t mean it was the right move. They let solid closer in Jonathan Papelbon walk away over money and instead of trying to sign another closer (Heath Bell was still available at the time of Papelbon’s signing in Philadelphia), they opted to save a few bucks and acquire Bailey.
Now I don’t doubt Bailey has the potential to be a solid closer in the league, and I know he won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2009, but the one thing overlooked is his inability to stay healthy. The past two seasons he’s missed a month of the season, spending time on the disabled list with back and forearm issues. Now he’s out until August with thumb surgery. Although his DL history isn’t as a result of a reoccurring problem, when a player is hurting themselves every season, one has to wonder his durability.
To make matters worse, the Sox are so desperate for a closer (because no one on the roster can handle the job), there are rumors they are talking to the Orioles about trading for Kevin Gregg. He couldn’t even hold a closers job last season on one of baseball’s worst teams and this year he’s 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA.
3 – 100 Year Celebration – In what should have been one of the biggest events of the Red Sox season, if not the entire league, turned into a spectacle. I’ll address the good first. I dug the fact the Red Sox and Yankees wore the same uniforms as the players wore in 1912. As a baseball dork who loves the history of the game it was cool to see.
I was also a big fan of how many former players showed up to honor Fenway. Seeing Johnny Pesky, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski, Bill Buckner, and Luis Tiant back on the field was a nice touch (and seeing that Mo Vaughn is still a fat f*ck). As I was watching this unfold, even though I don’t pull for the Red Sox, it made me feel proud to be a baseball fan.
Now on to the bad. To invite Theo Epstein only a day before the event was essentially giving the guy who helped build multiple World Series teams the middle finger. I think it was in poor taste.
Speaking of poor taste, the biggest black eye on the entire day (aside from the Red Sox making Ivan Nova looking like the best pitcher in baseball), was the antics of Kevin Millar and Pedro Martinez. When I saw these two chuckleheads to stand on the dugout in an effort to start the biggest toast in history, I knew it was a bad idea. First off they were clearly hammered. The second Millar opened his mouth you heard him slurring his words. To make matters worse, he wouldn’t shut the f*ck up. He and Pedro kept drunkenly ranting hoping to save face, but ended up making bigger assholes out of themselves. Then Millar decided to randomly talk about Karim Garcia. Really??? Stop trying to rehash the past dude and sober up. I almost felt bad for them and if you watched the former players on the field during this debacle you saw their looks of disgust. Their little production reminded me of a cross between the wedding toasts of Steve Carrell on The Office and Luke Wilson in Old School. Fictional they were funny, but in reality they were terrible.
2 – Pitching – When I did my preseason preview of the American League East I said I thought the Red Sox were a team on the way down and pitching would be their downfall. Outside of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester I wasn’t sold on their rotation. That’s been pretty accurate to date, but Beckett and Lester have also been trash. Currently they are a combine 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA. The rest of the rotation isn’t much better as they are 1-3 with a 7.17 ERA. At this point you’d have to think that Roy Oswalt’s phone is ringing off the hook.
The bullpen is even worse, not just because there’s no one who has the ability to close out games. Mark Melancon, Alfredo Aceves, and Vincente Padilla were all expected to be big contributors this season (especially given the injuries), but all three have an ERA over 9.00 (Melancon’s is somewhere in the 40’s and is now at Triple A). This is forcing the Sox to count on cast offs like Matt Albers.
1 – Bobby Valentine – I’ve never been a fan of Bobby Valentine, and not because he was the manager of the Mets for seven seasons. Hearing him talk and watching his managerial style he just never struck me as the kind of manager who can take a team to the next level. I think a good manager puts the team first and does what he can to take any kind of pressure off his players. Bobby isn’t that kind of guy. He’s a manager who puts himself first. This is why he’s a loser. In 15 years as a major league manager, he has a record just above .500 and only one playoff appearance (his teams average a fourth place finish).
When Boston hired him I thought it was a terrible fit and 14 games into the season it’s already looking like I’m right. Besides the terrible record, he’s already called Youkilis out to the media (the first of five media outbursts that Chris predicted in his season preview), and is already butting heads with upper management over the pitching staff. A manager shouldn’t be labeled “embattled” 14 games into his new job. If this keeps up, I wouldn’t be surprised if ownership gives Bobby his walking papers and he’s back being a gasbag at ESPN.
I want to hear from the Red Sox Nation (Nation’s are so stupid). I know you think I’m bashing you but I’m not. Next week they’ll probably a very similar list focusing on my Phillies (if not sooner). I’ll call any team out, no matter how much I love them. Drop me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think is wrong with the Sawx.
Jack Buck’s MNF Memories