Yes, the title is a slight variation of a segment featured on Bill Simmons’ podcasts. Actually, the only difference between my title and his title is that my name is “Joe” and his (the guy Simmons has as a guest) is “Johnny.” As a matter of fact, it is a complete rip off the title, and I take no credit for the almost, emotionally enveloping aura that surrounds it. It is difficult for me to take in how one is reading this blog, after being emotionally strewn from one side of their mind to the other side, and then back again.
But the title actually reflects what some fans may be thinking about our Boston Red Sox. They may be worrisome, nervous, troubled…and any other synonym that “Merriam Webster Online” provides. And just for the heck of it, synonym has no synonym, but why would it?
So the Sox have dropped five straight. Three to the once lowly Rays, who are going to be closer to .500 then they have ever been, unless they somehow finish way over the mark. They have talent, one of the best farms in baseball to be exact, but we all knew that going into the season. And now they have swept us. I’m sorry…I am supposed to be objective, let me rephrase that. The Rays have swept “them.” All 30 teams are simply “them” to me now that I changed my background from a Red Sox logo to an MLB logo.
Anyway, the answer to my question, if I may, is no, I am not worried. This team has as much talent as any team in baseball. And while it may not have some significant advantage in its everyday lineup, it does have an advantage in depth. Lowell goes down, replace him with Sean Casey. Great guy, great teammate, and oh yeah, he can hit .300 like it’s nothing. If Drew needs a day to rest, or 25 for that matter, Coco can come in and give us defense that few teams can matchup with. If Ortiz needs a day off, Manny can move to DH, and all of a sudden the outfield is incredible on the defensive side of the ball, with Coco, Ellsbury, and Drew. Drew does have good range by the way, he just makes dumb mistakes sometimes.
And another reason I am not worried is because the last two starts, have been great. Buchholz struck out nine, and gave up only two hits, but was handed the loss anyway. Beckett struck out thirteen, and was also handed a loss. Both great performances that the casual fan will see as a failure because each pitcher ended up with “L.” Beckett is an ace, and he is one of the five best pitchers in baseball. Now I tend to think of him as the best at times, but then I must step back and think about how that is in part because I see him do great things so often. So one of the five best is pretty fair I would think. Anyone want to disagree? And as for Clay, he will be molded into an ace eventually I think, but somewhat surprisingly to some, he may end up much closer to “Ace” status THIS season. Although, they may send him down for a short stint so they can control his innings later in the season. As soon as “Medical Records” recovers from his eight different ailments. (Medical Records is what I think of when I think of Colon. All offseason, every time Keith Law spoke of Bartolo, he always mentioned that his “medical records were disasturous.”) I have no idea if that quotation mark goes inside or outside of the parenthesis.
But I think the biggest difference between this year’s offense and last year’s offense will be Ellsbury. I think he brings energy, which is always nice. He brings hunger, which doesn’t hurt either. And best of all, from a winning perspective, he brings talent. And his bat over Coco, in my opinion, is a huge upgrade. He may be 35-40% better in terms of OPS+. And Ellsbury is no slouch in the field either, he just has to learn the terrain, and the sooner he starts/started, ultimately, the better.
I think Drew will have a better season too. As he is doing currently. Although JD is caught in one of his inevitable slumps again, where he grounds and pops everything out, while adding a single or a walk to the box score. But he will get back on track.
Lugo is going to be better than he was last year, almost exclusively because he has to be. But the errors Lugo, What is the deal? 7 errors already. I know he is no defensive wiz, but he isn’t the worst SS in baseball either. Bottom half I would say. And we do have Lowrie if Lugo were to revert back into what he was a year ago.
And Manny, Oh Manny. He wants to play another six years, he says. Fine. So he gets into the best shape of his life and has started off the season red-hot. Why couldn’t he do this every season? Last season his OPS was .629 in April. In 2006 it was .865, which is pretty good, but still below his career numbers. This season his OPS stood at 1.071 before today’s game. I wonder why he couldn’t just be this motivated all the time. And he looks so incredibly locked in too. I have so much faith when he comes to the plate now. Doesn’t matter who is on the mound, or what they throw. I still feel he can come through right now. But I believe the team has a “team option” each of the next two years. So I don’t know why they would to pay him when he is 42 years old. Why not just pick up the options? And if he wants to walk when he is 38, then let him do so. He is a Hall of Famer and is still one of the better hitters in all of baseball. But I doubt he will be when he is 38. And even if he is, how good will he be when he is 39? Maybe better than average, but not great I would guess.
Anyway, I dislike losing, as does every fan. But I am not worried. The Red Sox still have one of the most talented teams in baseball, and unless Ortiz never recovers, or some other significant injury happens, then they will be good.