It’s amazing what a single game can do isn’t it?
That’s how I ended my last piece after the only good moment of the 2011 Boston Red Sox season so far. It’s also amazing how true that statement is.
Two games after I declared the shipped righted and all things right with the world, the Red Sox are now 2-9 and off to the worst start in franchise history.
How did this happen? Two weeks ago I was joking about going 162-0 and during the offseason I argued they were the best team in baseball and a World Series favorite. Every analyst and talking head had them in the payoffs, many had them winning it all. There is no explanation for why they are the worst team in Major League Baseball right now.
The question becomes who is to blame for all this? Well lets take a look at the options.
Under performing bats
The two big offseason additions: Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez have struggled mightily early in the season. You can cut them a little slack as they are adjusting to a new location, new teammates and new pressures but this is a bit much.
It’s not just new players struggling. Kevin Youkilis, Marco Scutaro and Jacoby Elisbury have been non-factors. While we can ignore Scutaro for the most part, Elisbury and Youkilis are suppose to be mainstays at the top of this line-up and neither one of them is hitting over .200.
They have also lacked the timely hit. Every game they leave more and more runners in scoring position.
Just god awful. The worst team ERA in all of Major League Baseball. They have been handcuffed by the no show offense at times that doesn’t justify how bad the rotation has been. Josh Beckett has one great start and John Lester has been decent but the rest of the arms have looked ugly. There is no confidence in anyone of them right now but will all the money locked up in them, they aren’t going anywhere right now.
One of the biggest offseason questions was what would this line up look like day-to-day. Apparently no one knows because the Sox have not used the same one twice so far this season.
The struggles at the top of the line-up with Craford and Elisbury have failed to set the table for the big bobbers in the middle, which has put added pressure on the bottoms of the line-up.
Anytime there is a glaring problem that can’t be solved by moving a player, the coaching staff becomes a likely scape goat.
Curt Young is new to the Sox staff this year as the pitching coach. The staff has been terrible so Young is a possible out, but I don’t see him going anywhere.
Dave Magadan, the hitting coach, is the most likely scape goat here. The offense as I already pointed out is horrible and thats Magadan’s domain. I do think it will be a cop out if they let him go as these are All-Star hitters he is dealing with. Its not hs job to make them hit. They should already be able to do that. Its his job to help them study and get through slumps.
Terry Francona has earned a free pass from criticism and with good reason, he owns two World Series rings. But one thing he has never done is be a master motivator. This team needs a fire lit under their ass and I’m not sure Francona can do that. Will he be great at keeping the pressure off and keeping the locker room calm, yes. Will he get them fired up and hungry, I don’t know.
Red Sox GM Theo Epstien broght in some major players this offseason and decided to let some go. The decision of Crawford instead of Victor Martinez will be debated until Crowford starts performing to his contract. He locked up the top four spots in the rotation for the next few years, but is it solid pitchers? Was the Gonzalez trade a good idea? How good is this bullpen and the guys he brought in for it?
These will all be picked apart until we start getting answers.
Another big issue is whether or not the ownership group cares about the Red Sox now or are they too concerned with their English soccer team Liverpool. In the middle of these struggles they announced a partnership with Lebron James (yeah that one) for ownership. Why talk about that now. I’m sure they still care but it seems like the Red Sox are an afterthought.
A big one that doesn’t get talked about much. As I’ve written before the way local media, especially the Boston Herald, talked about this team before the season started was horrendous. Full front page spread proclaiming them the Greatest Team Ever and NESN, the Red Sox station, compared them to the 1927 New York Yankees.
The Rose colored glasses were firmly planted on our faces and there was little talk of all the potential pitfalls and questions marks this team had. They were hyped to an inhuman level and when they are struggling it become an even greater shock because of it.
Regardless of whose to blame, I believe the Sox will bounce back and be a force once they can put everything together.