Saturday, April 16, 2011
It's Mid-April and the Red Sox are Already Running Out of Time
The Red Sox' Frustrations Are Starting To Show, As Evidenced By Kevin Youkilis
Remember when the Red Sox were going to win 100 games on their way to another World Series Championship?
That's looking increasingly unlikely rather suddenly.
When the Sox were swept in Texas on opening weekend, it could be chalked up to playing the defending AL Champs, on the road. Perhaps everyone's timing was off; the hitters and pitchers just weren't clicking yet. The Red Sox were outscored 26-11 in the series.
But then the Sox were immediately swept by the lowly Cleveland Indians. Yes, it was very cold in Cleveland. But that didn't seem to affect the Indians, who outscored the Red Sox 12-5 in the series.
The Red Sox seemed to need to get home quickly and desperately. Perhaps the familiar and comfortable confines of Fenway Park and the first series against their arch rivals, the New York Yankees, would spark the fire that would send the Sox on their way for the rest of the season.
The Sox took two out of three from the Yanks. However, they were once again outscored, 19-13.
Then the lowly 1-8 Tampa Rays came to Fenway, the only team with a worse record than the Sox. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for the Sox to get on a winning streak and improve their record.
That didn't happen.
Instead, the Rays won two in a row against the Sox, while the third and final game was rained out. Thank goodness. Yet again, the Red Sox were outscored, this time 19-7.
As today began, the Red Sox were 2-10, the worst record in baseball. And they may be the worst team in baseball as well.
There isn't much good about the Red Sox at this point. They've been outscored 79-46. They're batting .224, 12th in the AL. Their ERA is 6.79, by far the worst in the AL. In fact, it's the worst in baseball — by a full run.
Simply put, this team is a mess. Being eight games below .500 in mid-April is not something that anyone could have imagined. And it is already a hole so deep that the Sox may not be able to extricate themselves from it.
There are 150 games yet to play. In order to win 95 games this season, the Red Sox need to go 93-57 the rest of the way. That's a .620 winning percentage. From the beginning of the season, it would have been just a .586 winning percentage to get to 95 wins.
Perhaps that gives you an idea of just how difficult it's going to be for this team to win 95 games and/or make the playoffs.
I don't mean to sound alarmist, but the season may already be over for the Red Sox. The playoffs are, perhaps, an unrealistic dream.
If you're looking for good news, the Sox are just five games behind the division-leading Yankees, who are just 7-5.
However, as the Boston Globe's Tony Massarotti recently pointed out, the difference between a 97-win team and an 81-win team is a single victory in every 10 contests.
"You go 6-4 during that span, you win 97. You go 5-5, you win 81," wrote Massarotti. "The line between mediocrity and championship contention is not nearly as thick as many would like to believe."
The Red Sox had an Opening Day payroll approaching $164 million. There isn't much they can do to improve this team right now. There are many expensive, long-term contracts throughout the roster.
And under-achieving players are never easy to trade, especially when they've been under-achieving for more than a year (JD Drew, Dice-K, John Lackey, Josh Beckett).
Any sort of trade isn't very likely until at least June, when other teams will have figured out what their potential is, what their needs are, and what contracts they need to jettison. A call-up of a player like Ryan Kalish is more likely in the short-term.
Clearly, the Red Sox need to stir the pot and shake things up. And they need to find a solution quickly.
It's April 16th and, as difficult as it is to believe, the Red Sox are already running out of time.