Since last Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox have gone 4-2. This includes their very nice three game sweep in Detroit. The Red Sox have had a dreadful road record, but a big sweep of Detroit put them up around .500 for the year. Dice-K finally got his first win of the season, but didn’t manage to escape the fifth inning, which he has still yet to do a third of the way through the season. The Red Sox paid 51 million dollars just to talk to the guy, and he has an ERA of 7.33 so far this season. He has been outstanding in both World Baseball Classics, but I am afraid it is because other countries don’t see him as often and he gets longer rest during the WBC. His funky delivery and assortment of pitches were good early, but now Major League teams have figured him out. Not to mention the help he gives to teams with all of his walks. If Dice-K can’t pull it together in the next few starts, the Sox may be forced to send him down or move him to the bullpen, because they have plenty of starting pitchers waiting on the doorstep for a job.
On the other hand, they have their two best starting pitchers back. Yes, I am talking about Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, who both took no-hitters into the seventh inning during the past week. Of pitchers that qualify, they had the two worst ERAs at one point during the season. They seem to have finally begun showing their capability, with Lester having pitched fifteen innings in his last two starts, with 23 strikeouts and only two earned runs. Josh Beckett has thrown 14.2 innings in his last two starts, allowing just one earned run and striking out seventeen. These are amazing numbers for anyone, but to bounce back the way they have is just phenomenal. If they keep anything like this up, then playoffs here we come.
What a relief it is to have Mark Kotsay back. I will admit I had kind of forgotten about him, but he is such a versatile player, and it is great to have him back from the DL. He plays first base and can play all three outfield positions. J.D. Drew has been banged up, and Kotsay has provided a good backup for him. He has homered once in his absence and is batting .286 in his very short time back. Kotsay will be nice to have late in the season with his thirteen years of experience. Assuming he can stay healthy, he should get the occasional start, although he does bat lefty so he doesn’t have that over Drew.
The Red Sox will probably make at least one trade before the deadline, but the question is who it will involve. Right now I think their biggest priority is the DH spot with David Ortiz, who even after his second home run does not look like he is about to hit fifteen home runs in his next fifty games, worse yet maybe his career. I feel horrible saying it, but Ortiz is done in my opinion. Anyone else batting below .200 would be out of the lineup and down in the minors. Yes, respect means a lot, but honestly you can’t just keep a guy in the lineup because of what he did in the past. All that matters is what he is doing now and sadly that is not much. I think if the Sox make a trade, it will be to upgrade the shortstop position or improve the DH spot. There have been rumors that the Sox are trying to trade Brad Penny, which would open a spot for John Smoltz, or Clay Buchholz if Smoltz isn’t ready by then.
The Red Sox play the division leading Yankees next, followed by the red hot Phillies. This is a tough stretch for the Sox, especially with Ellsbury and Drew banged up. If they can manage to go 3-3, I would be more than fine with that, especially if two or more of those wins came against the Yankees. New York is playing their best baseball right now, and if the Sox can win that series, they will have the lead in the division. It is going to take the Red Sox best, but this rivalry always seems to bring that out in both sides.