Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The Red Sox went into the bottom of the fourth inning trailing Kansas City 2-0. They had lost the last three games going into the All Star break. Then coming out of the All-Star break, they lost three out of five, all at home to teams with losing records.

If they didn't do something soon they'd lose the series at home to Kansas City. So, they scored four runs and were on the verge of a fifth when a bad call at first base denied Dustin Pedroia a base hit and RBI. No matter, they had doubled K.C.'s score.

So what happens? His Craziness, Julian Tavarez comes out and gives the four runs right back. The Sox never recover, and do lose the game and the series (at home) to Kansas City.

Now that he Red Sox have lost 7 of their last 10 and their lead over New York is now down to seven games (6 in the loss column), its time to ask, what is wrong with the Red Sox?

As I see it, the difference between the Red Sox in the first two months of the season and the Red Sox now is two things. The first and admittedly much smaller part is down luck. An example: Down one in the bottom of the eighth, Coco Crisp crushes a ball off the wall in right field. He misses a game tying homer by one foot. He settles for a triple instead and is left at third when Julio Lugo flies out to center. A little wind and that ball is over the wall and the game is tied. Similar scenarios have played themselves out ad nauseam over the past month.

Another example: in the series against Kansas City, the Royals were 10 for 26 (.385) with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox were 3 for 19 (.158). This type of thing is bound to go the other way at some point.

The second and far more important aspect is pitching. The Red Sox winning early in the season was accomplished in large part with excellent pitching, not by a bludgeoning offense. Now they aren't getting the consistently great pitching that they were, and, just as before, their offense isn't good enough to make up for it.

The problem isn't the bullpen. There have been a few minor blow ups, but all bullpens will have that from time to time. For the most part just about everyone in the pen has been excellent. A minor miracle if ever there was one.

If the pen isn't the problem then it must be in the rotation. Josh Beckett has been almost as good as he was when the season started. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been better. That leaves Schilling, Wakefield, and Tavarez.

Up until he got injured, Schilling was an above average starting pitcher. However, with the injury its difficult to discern how to categorize Ol' Schil going forward. He's due to start a game for AAA Pawtucket this Saturday and we'll be able to better assess where he is at that point, but for now its difficult to count on him.

Wakefield got off to a great start, but he's slowed down considerably recently. As a matter of fact, if you look at Wakefield's ERA by month you get this:

April 2.59
May 4.09
June 6.00
July 6.75

This is a terrible trend and a pretty good explanation in miniature for the Sox recent performance.

Julian Tavarez hasn't been much better. Since pitching against Atlanta a month ago, Tavarez has given up 26 runs in 23.1 innings and the team has lost his last six starts. In the industry, thats called "bad pitching." With the lead down to the lowest its been in months, the Sox can't afford to punt every fifth game anymore. With Curt Schilling coming back soon, Tavarez needs to be the first one to go.

In a way the Sox are lucky that Schilling got hurt when he did. The trading deadline is coming up in under two weeks (July 31) and the Red Sox should have a good idea of what they can expect from Ol' Schil before that time. If Schilling isn't going to be an above average pitcher during the stretch run, the Sox need to go find someone who can.

The Yankees early season sucking allowed the Red Sox to putz about for the first four months of the season. Because of their huge lead, they could take some liberties that teams usually aren't allowed during those months. That time (and that lead) are rapidly expiring, and will be entirely extinguished soon.

The Sox need to patch the holes in their rotation and improve their offensive efficiency (somehow). Otherwise they'll be just another piece of hot-start roadkill on the highway to the playoffs.

AL East: In another example of lousy luck for the Red Sox, Toronto managed ten hits and five walks and only scored one lousy run off of the Yankees, losing 6-1. The Yankees have now won five in a row, and picked up three games on the Red Sox in the process. Tampa won as well. Baltimore is in Seattle (losing 2-1 in the third inning). The Sox lead is now 7.0 games over New York, 11.0 over Toronto, and whogivesashit over Baltimore and Tampa.

Tomorrow (Thursday): Matsuzaka pitches for Boston in the first game of a four-gamer versus the almost-as-awful-as-Kansas-City Chicago White Sox. The White Sox counter with the soon-to-be-traded Javier Vazquez. Game time 7:05pm EST.

Come on, Red Sox. Its time to wake up.

1 comment:

mattymatty said...

The Hardball Times addressed this very question and came up with a different answer than I did. Check out their article at and post what you think of my 'analysis' in the comments.