Blog Entry

The Lost Weekend at The Trop

Posted on: May 4, 2009 7:32 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2009 10:22 am
As the Red Sox head north to take on the Yankees in a two game set, they bring along a lot of question marks with them after losing 3 of 4 games against the Rays this weekend. Anyone who thought the Rays were one season wonders after their exploits last year, had their eyes opened this weekend as they trounced the Sox in just about every aspect of the game. The vaunted attack of the Sox barely made an appearance during the series and were clearly outshone by the likes of Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, and Jason Bartlett, among others. What is going north with the Sox at this time is a load of questions that need to be answered over the next month to month and a half if this season is to become the one that Sox fans have been anticipating all winter.

player photoOne of the biggest questions, in my opinion is, who is the real Josh Beckett? Beckett is now in the early portion of his fourth season in a Red Sox uniform and we still don't know what to expect from him as he heads out for a start. Few can argue that he is one of the top post-season pitchers of this decade but his regular season performances have been rife with inconsistency. Beckett's 2007 season, both regular season and postseason, appeared to be the breakout campaign for what seemed to be an ace for years to come. Apparently not, however. Aside from the stellar 2007 season, Becket has been just above a .500 pitcher with an ERA exceeding 4.50. Not the stuff that aces are made from. The Sox need him to revert back to 2007 form or they could be in trouble in the pitcher rich AL East.

Beckett isn't the only starter with problems. Jon Lester has been inconsistent, Daisuke Matsuzaka has been invisible, and Brad Penny has been trying to shake off the rust. Were it not for outstanding performances by Tim Wakefield and Justin Masterson (until the trip to The Trop) the Sox would be in a world of hurt. These guys have to turn it around in the next couple of weeks or the bullpen could be in shambles.

Speaking of the bullpen, while it has come as advertised to this point, there does appear to be one component missing, a long man. All of the relievers that the Sox are carrying, now that Masterson is in the rotation, are set-up men or closers. They pitch 1 to 2 innings, at the most, and are done. They are lacking the reliever who can contribute four, even five, innings when needed so when the Sox run into a start where they have to pull the pitcher after 3 innings, they hammer the bullpen for the next few days because they have to run 4-5 pitchers out there to finish the game.

On the offensive side, David Ortiz still remains in a funk. While he appeared to be finding an answer during the recent homestand, whatever was gained here at Fenway was lost on this road trip. He is admitting frustration and that is only going to hurt him in the long run. If this lack of productivity continues during this Yankee series, Terry Francona has to consider letting Papi sit for a couple of games, or more, and try to work out some of these issues on the side. While most on these boards feel Ortiz is done as a force, I don't agree but until he stops pressing, Papi will have difficulty being the contributor that the Sox need at this time.

Mike LowellWith all of this being said, as this is being posted the Sox are a mere one game out in the lost column in the AL East. Kevin Youkilis is proving that last year was not only not a fluke, it was just a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Mike Lowell's return from injury has been nothing short of sensational. Dustin Pedroia is showing that he can still do it all and is an on base machine. Jacoby Ellsbury is demonstrating how important he is to the Sox lineup and Jason Bay is showing the Sox fans just why the Red Sox administration has to do whatever it takes to get him signed for the long-term.

Questions abound for this team but as one looks around baseball there isn't one team who isn't facing the same amount of uncertainty. This short series in New York can be an opportunity to answer some of these questions to the affirmative and it will be a solid gauge for the Sox resiliency after their weekend debacle at The Trop.
Category: MLB
Tags: Red Sox

Since: Mar 12, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2009 9:17 am

The Lost Weekend at The Trop

I think the Sox will let Beckett walk when his contract is up. Actually when you watch him pitch and his expresionless face you wonder is that someone whos under control of his thought, or someone who really does not care and his playing out his commitments.

I think the Sox hitters have done a good job of picking up the slack with Papi's lack of power and Youk injured. You have to admit even Lugo has helped. Dustin, Lowell and especially Bay have been unreal. I'm still not sold on Ellsbury, and Drew Drew.

There is a surplus of decent young pitching talent in the minors , as we all know and we need to use one of them for trade bait for a decnet everyday hitter that won't hurt the team in the field. There is going to be a few definate holes that will need to be filled after this season. Jason Bay had not better be one of them. I vote to get him signed and also address the hitting issues sooner rather than later.

Since: Nov 19, 2008
Posted on: May 7, 2009 8:44 pm

The Lost Weekend at The Trop

maybe he just can't get up for regular season games anymoreThis is probably true, but if it is, is this the type of pitcher that you want to give "ace" money to when his contract comes up in a couple of years? Not me. You need consistency during the regular season as well as the playoffs and you want your best pitcher to embrace the role of ACE and to lead the staff by example. I just don't see Josh Beckett doing this at this time. There is no way a pitcher with 3 "plus" pitches like Beckett should hover around the .500 mark with ERAs approaching 5.00 for any period of time. Even in his latest effort in NY, which resulted in a win, Beckett was none too impressive, giving up 3 runs in 6+ innings while allowing 10 hits after being staked to a 4 run lead. I hope I'm wrong, and Beckett turns it around to finish with 18-20 wins, but I don't see any indication of that yet.

Looking to the future, Jon Lester has not only displayed the ability of an ACE but the personality of one. He seems to be a pitcher who will embrace the responsibility both in the regular season and the playoffs. Daisuke Matsuzaka is a solid #2 in any rotation and Justin Masterson, in a year or two will be a solid 3-4 guy. Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden are lighting it up in Pawtucket thus far and Junichi Tazawa showed promise during spring training. Tazawa has gotten off to a 3-2 start in Portland with a 3.34 ERA in his first professional season. Throw in Nick Hagadone and others, the Sox might not feel the need to open the vault for a pitcher who can only be motivated by postseason pressure.

Since: Apr 22, 2008
Posted on: May 7, 2009 9:47 am

The Lost Weekend at The Trop

Few can argue that he is one of the top post-season pitchers of this decade but his regular season performances have been rife with inconsistency.

Doesn't this make you believe that there are some motivational issues here? Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the teams Beckett pitches against in the post season the BEST teams in the league, yet he still kills them? He's a very young pitcher who has won multiple World Series titles as an ace...maybe he just can't get up for regular season games anymore...

With all of this being said, as this is being posted the Sox are a mere one game out in the lost column in the AL East.

On one hand, you can say "That's great, even with these shortcomings the Sox are in contention, so when everything comes together they will be outstanding". But on the other hand, you could argue that, "The Red Sox who are carrying the team right now can't keep up the pace that they are on, and if the guys who are holding them back never turn it around, Boston is going to be in a boat load of trouble".

Masterson is already showing signs of slowing down, and in order to kill two birds with one stone in addressing your issues with the Sox, hopefully at the beginning of June Smoltz will enter the rotation to provide some consistancy and Masterson will become the "long guy" out of the pen. The Sox have the pieces...the problem is their availability and placement.

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