Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Now can we agree that the Red Sox are in trouble?

Posted by Bill Koch on April 18, 2010

David Ortiz

Since Theo Epstein and his disciples are so into sabermetrics, let’s try a mathematical approach to explain what lies ahead for the Boston Red Sox after their 7-1 destruction against Tampa Bay at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Boston dropped to 4-8 thanks to its latest grizzly performance, and those of you who think that early losses don’t matter aren’t paying attention. The Red Sox have a stated goal every year of qualifying for the American League postseason, and that’s becoming more improbable by the day as Boston continues to stagger out of the blocks. Trying to overtake the New York Yankees and the Rays in the American League East will be plenty difficult, as will winning the wild card with both of those teams on the schedule a combined 30 times the rest of the way.

Let’s start with Matt Garza’s performance on Sunday – he probably doesn’t need an alarm clock to wake up on the days he’s scheduled to start against Boston. The rat-faced righthander must leap out of bed all on his own thanks to the way he shoves against the Red Sox, and he ran his career mark to 6-2 against Boston thanks to eight scoreless innings. Garza faced the minimum through seven, dropped his ERA under 3.10 and lowered his WHIP to below 1.05 against the Red Sox in 13 career regular season starts, numbers only bettered by his 2-0 record, 1.38 ERA and 1.07 WHIP against Boston in two postseason starts. This reconfigured version of the Red Sox lineup, which was already well short of punch before Jacoby Ellsbury missed yet another game due to his lingering rib injury, never stood a chance.

Jon Lester’s highlight came when he struck out the side in the first inning on Sunday – it was all downhill from there. Boston’s alleged ace-in-waiting was hammered for seven earned runs in six innings of work and fell to 2-6 for his career in his 15 starts before May 1. His ERA through three starts now stands at 8.44, a pathetic beginning to the season no matter what numbers are used as judgment. Lester never gave the Red Sox a chance to win, the No. 1 goal of every starting pitcher each time he takes the rubber, and hasn’t done that yet in 2010. The Red Sox are going nowhere fast if he doesn’t figure it out in a hurry.

Qualifying for the AL postseason out of the East has required at least 94 wins in all but four seasons since the wildcard was instituted in 1995, and that year featured a shortened 144-game schedule thanks to the lingering strike that crippled the game. Let’s assume that 94 will get it done again this year – Boston will now have to go 90-60 over its final 150 games to reach that number. Does this look like a team that has any chance of playing that type of baseball the rest of the way?

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2 Responses to “Now can we agree that the Red Sox are in trouble?”

  1. Steve G. said

    I’m not radically worried yet, since the Red Sox have had a seemingly tough schedule to open up the year. They started with a three-game series against the World Series champions, took two of three from the bottom-feeding Royals, and then had series against the Twins and the Rays, both who should be playoff contenders. They have one more game against the Rays, and then three against a tough Texas team.

    From there though, things get radically easier – Nine against the Blue Jays and O’s. I think as long as the Sox are around .500 by the end of April, they’re still in good shape for the rest of the year.

  2. […] Some people saw this coming from the start. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out that this Red Sox team wasn’t going to have enough to make a serious push for its third World Series berth of the century. Epstein finally admitted as much by letting things play themselves out on Saturday and turning his attention to 2011. He acquired Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a 25-year-old catcher who has failed to live up to his considerable hype as a prospect in both the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers organizations, with an eye toward replacing Jason Varitek or Martinez if neither can be re-signed. Epstein is currently hindered by the luxury tax threshold, a $170-million ceiling that the Red Sox don’t want (or can’t afford) to cross. He probably can’t wait to shed the $42.3 million that Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Varitek, Jeremy Hermida, Julio Lugo, and Billy Wagner currently count for on the 2010 payroll. It’s going to be up to Epstein to spend that money wisely to add the hard-hitting corner outfielder, additional bullpen arms and consistent extra bat off the bench that this club so desperately needs. He clearly didn’t think that he could get anything productive done at this year’s trading deadline, and his lack of action says all you need to know about what he thinks of this current group of Red Sox that he has assembled. […]

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