Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Red Sox close the book on 2010

Posted by Bill Koch on August 1, 2010

Theo Epstein

The charade that has been the 2010 season finally came to an end for the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

Boston’s front office finally admitted defeat by doing absolutely nothing to bolster its fading product on the field. David Ortiz’s late heroics aside, the Red Sox are stuck in the mud while the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays continue to open up the gap in the American League East and Wild Card races.

This has nothing to do with Theo Epstein’s inability to make something happen at the deadline. He’s shown that he’s not afraid to make a big deal in previous years – just think back to Nomar Garciaparra (2004), Eric Gagne (2007) and Victor Martinez (2009). The crystal clear message this time is that this version of the Red Sox is so broken that it would require multiple major moves to fix, and Epstein is unwilling to completely gut his farm system on the unlikely chance that Boston could make up seven games in the standings over its final 55 against a pair of quality opponents.

This Red Sox team was always doomed to fail. Injuries are going to end up being the convenient excuse that the Pink Hats, Theo and The Trio (John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner) and This Manager will use, but Boston was never going to have enough talent to overcome the Yankees and Rays. Its application of the pitching-and-defense philosophy was flawed from the start, and only a surprising offensive effort from its makeshift lineup has kept the Red Sox from sinking like the Seattle Mariners have in the American League West. John Lackey has been a bust, posting new career worsts in ERA, WHIP, hits allowed per nine innings, strikeout-to-walk ratio and strikeouts per nine innings. Mike Cameron has broken down like most 37-year-old outfielders tend to do, and Boston has permanently damaged its relationship with Jacoby Ellsbury by sweeping him aside like yesterday’s garbage to accommodate its new center fielder. Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre, the alleged vast defensive upgrades on the left side of the infield, are on their way to career highs in errors.

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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