Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Red Sox Continue To Dance: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez has been one of the few bright spots for the Red Sox this season.

The Red Sox continue to confound us all. We're now 20 percent through this season, and the Red Sox are 14-18 and in last place in the AL East.

Yes, there have been signs of hope. But every time the Sox seem to take one step forward, they take two steps back. Amazingly, the Sox have yet to get to .500 this season. That's just pathetic.

Over a recent 17-game stretch, the Sox went 12-5 and were still a game under .500. And now they've gone backward from there.

This team's problems are numerous, including its anemic offense.

The Red Sox have scored more than six runs in just eight of 32 games. The offense, which was expected to be a strength of this team, simply isn't delivering.

Amongst American League teams, the Red Sox are 10th in home runs, 9th in runs, 8th in batting, 8th in slugging, 8th in total bases and have the fourth most strike outs.

It looks like a case of false advertising. This lineup was supposed to rake.

Only two Red Sox are batting at least .300 — Jed Lowrie and Adrian Gonzalez. Nine Red Sox are hitting .237 or under. That's simply stunning.

Kevin Youkilis leads the club with five homers. Only one Sox' player has at least 10 doubles (Gonzalez). Only one player (Gonzalez) has as many as 18 RBI.

With the offense misfiring to that degree, the pitching has to be almost perfect. But it isn't.

Amongst AL teams, Red Sox pitchers are 12th in wins, 11th in ERA, 11th in innings and have allowed the 5th most runs, 5th most homers and the 4th most walks.

There are problems aplenty.

Clay Buchholz has regressed and possesses a 4.81 ERA and 2-3 record. In six starts, Buchholz has lasted just 33.2 innings and is not making quality starts. Over those 33.2 innings, Buchholz has allowed a whopping 60 base-runners.

Though he has had some terrific performances and sports a respectable 4.33 ERA, Daisuke Matsuzaka has lasted just 26 innings over his five starts. Dice-K has allowed 37 base-runners in 27 innings (one in relief).

John Lackey has made six starts. Three of them have been lights out. However, in the other three he's given up more than six runs. In other words, at this point, Lackey only gives the Red Sox a quality start half the time. At $17 million per season, this is a guy who is paid like an ace and who was supposed to be the No. 2 starter this year.

There are leaks all over this ship, folks. The worry here is that this we'll still have these concerns at mid-season and that the Sox will be lucky to be a .500 ball club by that time.

Yes, there have been some bright spots.

David Ortiz has gotten off to a hot start with 4 homers, 16 RBI and a .284/..378/.450 line.

Adrian Gonzalez has been as good as advertised, as the preceding numbers attest. And there's every reason to believe that his power numbers will climb as the season progresses.

Jed Lowrie has been a great surprise, leading the Red Sox in both batting and slugging. His defense, however, leaves something to be desired.

Jon Lester looks like a beast, improving to 4-1 in his last start and lowering his ERA to 2.33. In that game, Lester struck out at least 10 batters (11) for the 15th time in his career. Given that he's traditionally been a slow starter, you have to wonder just how good he'll be this year.

Josh Beckett has returned to form, and is once again the dominant pitcher we've seen in the past. The assorted ailments that plagued him over the past year-and-a-half seem to be behind him now. The big righty sports an impressive 2.35 ERA and has allowed just 34 base-runners in 38.1 innings.

But that's it; those are the few signs of life. After that, it's a pretty big falloff. The most polite way to describe this team is 'disappointing'.

For well over a month, everyone in baseball — not just Red Sox fans — has been waiting for this team to turn it around and play up to its potential. The question now is, how much longer will we have to wait?

The concern is that we could be waiting until it's too late.

Want one ray of hope? As lackluster as they've been, the Sox entered today just five games out of first place and just five games separate all five AL East teams.

As I wrote recently, if the Red Sox ever find a way to put it all together and be the club they should be, the Yankees may come to regret the fact that they didn't bury the Red Sox at this point, leaving them far in the rearview mirror.

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