Friday, April 30, 2010

Report Card for the Red Sox : D+ to C- With Upside

It hasn't exactly been a full month of Red Sox baseball, nor is my grade of the team exactly scientific, but screw it. If there is anything that drives a baseball fan to blog it's the love of examining the micro, tossing it with everyday observations and then making macro assertions.

The guys who get paid to do this are making lists about the Sox woes, so let's throw our tiny opinions in the till and see where we end up...

It's not a great revelation to say the Red Sox are a well-below average team right now with traces of stinking failure. The concerns are real.

ESPN's Gordon Edes has it right when he lists the Sox woes including: how the team is struggling mightily at DH, how the run differential numbers are quite scary, how throwing-out base runners is horrid, how enigmatic the pitching of Josh Beckett is and the struggles of a taxed bullpen. And those insanely high-performing Rays are smacking the ball around like they are playing slow-pitch softball. They are a ridiculous team. You want to see differentials? The Rays, as Edes pointed out, are outscoring the opposition 120-42.

Despite all these issues, the Red Sox are saved by one thing and one thing alone: The potential talent of proven players. The emphasis is on proven. It's very easy to wallow in the disappointment of expectations in April, but there is so much more that will happen [insert marathon vs. sprint cliche here].

That water coming out of your eyes is not only from the pollen, but from the panic. Get a tissue. Blow your negative nose and take a deep drag off your inhaler. Despite every issue we can pinpoint over a month for this team, patience may still show reward. So breathe.

Let's get a little perspective: An rib-injured Ellsbury hurts a whole lot. But next month, a Ben Zobrist could dive for a ball at The Trop and end up on the DL. A Matt Garza could get hit by a line drive up the middle. CC Fatsackia could rip something other than a bag of pork rinds.While I don't wish injury on anyone, they happen and they happen to every team.

Victor Martinez will heat up. Josh Beckett will turn it around. The bullpen will get more rest. The left side of the infield will improve its defense. Navajo Jewish Lawyer (Ellsbury) will return, and he will eventually swipe bases (though it could be slow going since it's a rib injury).

We will likely be surprised with offense from Beltre, Drew and Ortiz.

Clay Buchholz has been solid. Lester, by evidence of his last outing, could be making a run. There have been some key contributions from Hermida, McDonald and Scutaro. Youk and Lil Shit are money in the bank. Papelbon has saved games. Lackey is a fighter and should get that ERA down and go deeper in games.

We've already seen that this team can beat up on lesser-talented teams. The challenge will be to beat the really good ones. After getting smacked around by the Yanks and Rays, it will serve this team well to wear that smackdown on their shoulders and grind out games.

I truly believe this team will be competitive. Now how about a sweep in Baltimore this weekend?