Monday, July 19, 2010

The Towel, And Where to Throw It... If At All

If you've talked to me over IM or in person about the current state of the Red Sox right now I would probably tell you in all seriousness "I expect them to be about 9 games back by next week."

Where I once saw resiliency, I now see strikeouts;  Where I once saw a laser show, I now see a fading, fizzling ball of barely-flickering gas.

Losing three of four at home after the All-Star Break to the first place team in the AL West doesn't help. Lester losing on sloppy defense and a close call at home (with an anemic offense)? Ugh.

The injuries are serious and there are simply too many of them. The bullpen is undeniably awful. The always changing lineup is not working. Our outfield scrubs--Nava, Patterson, McDonald, Cameron-- are mediocre players. John Lackey is a waste of money. And even with the trade deadline coming, it's very hard to expect Theo and management to give up the farm that easily--and for whom?

Am I to be enamored of Beckett coming back later this week in Seattle? Who the hell knows if this guy can pitch anymore? He gave up several runs to AAA players on Saturday. Is that encouraging? A guy who catches has a bad broken thumb on his catching thumb and can barely clutch a bat... Doesn't really add up.

I am sure to be overreacting; I am sure to be fixating on those issues that keep me thinking this is virtually impossible to overcome in a few month's time. Sometimes you run in to a good pitcher (like C.J. Wilson yesterday... Did anyone see how bad he made Ortiz look at the plate yesterday? No wonder lefties are hitting under .100 against him.)

Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe thinks this is far from over. Abraham writes in his latest column:

The reality is the Red Sox are 3.5 games out of a playoff spot with 70 left to play... Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte is out 4-6 weeks with a groin tear and A.J. Burnett's 4.99 ERA has him punching walls. Derek Jeter's OPS is a few points better than Marco Scutaro's. The Yankees are a good team, but they're not as good as they were last year, so do not discount the division. Jeremy Hermida will be back Thursday. Josh Beckett returns on Friday. Victor Martinez played catch today and figures to get a little better every day. The spring-training lineups will start to disappear soon enough. You also have to be encouraged by a bullpen that now includes Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Manny Delcarmen and Michael Bowden in key roles instead of Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez and that combustible crew.

Abraham makes some good points, but the question marks outweigh the certainties by a wide margin to me. The Yankees were willing to rent Cliff Lee for three months; They will make a starting pitching move at the deadline, especially with Pettitte on the DL.

This rag tag Red Sox team is headed West and has little resting time. This team has been only ok on the road, with slightly more wins than losses (22-20). Some say take comfort they are playing Oakland and Seattle.

I don't. I will be rooting them on all the way, but the reality is tough to swallow right now.

I hope I am wrong. I really do.