2013 is over, it's time to acknowledge Red Sox issues
Early exits by Sox starters are the primary culprits for a lackluster start GREG FIUME/GETTY IMAGES
Dan Shaughnessy is right. The 2013 Red Sox championship was “incredibly lucky and somewhat inadvertent.” It was a confluence of great seasons from the entire roster (lucky) in what appeared to be a bridge year (inadvertent). Not an outrageous statement there.
Shaughnessy’s description was only slightly more poetic than my “they stumbled ass-backwards into a title.” But that’s why he is the professional. He makes the point because the shine of 2013 still blinds much of Red Sox nation. The first step in fixing any problem is acknowledging there is one. And as baseball enters May, it’s clear the .500 Red Sox have quite a few.
After the failures of 2011 and 2012, there was a deliberate effort to bury the contempt for the slew of big-budget free agents and superstars with a wave of likeable players. A PR-move if you will. The signing of these “clubhouse guys” who “like to compete” created a perfect storm in 2013. A storm so perfect we forgot Jonny Gomes was a psychopath. We’re still feeling the rain from that storm.
Shane Victorino, signed a three-year contract in 2012, at the time considered long, and then he hit .294 in 2013. A great year, far better than most anticipated, but we knew three years was too many.
Some Red Sox fans, this one included, hoped for a Victorino hamstring tweak this Spring Training to make room for Brock Holt, Daniel Nava, and Allen Craig in right field. Heartless as it may be, it was the only way the $13-million man would consistently stay out of the lineup. And what do you know, it did.
Wade Miley, the recipient of sarcastic applause New England-wide, was labeled a grinder when traded for this offseason. An innings-eater. Never mind his performance has declined in each of the last three years, let’s sign him to a three-year contract extension BEFORE he throws a pitch in a Red Sox uniform. What is it with the Red Sox and three years?
John Farrell and Juan Nieves are supposed pitcher whisperers and their staff is worst in the league in ERA (eight spots behind the Phillies FYI) and 22nd in innings pitched. Between Miley, Justin Masterson, and Rick Porcello, the rotation was projected to treat a nine-inning frame like a buffet. Yet the Red Sox rank in the bottom half in innings pitched by starters.
There are are issues with this Red Sox team. Most of them are on the pitching staff, but the juggernaut lineup seems allergic to hitting with runners in scoring position at times. too These problems didn’t exist in 2013 because that year was perfect. This year isn’t. It’s time we, and the Red Sox, start acknowledging that.