Seriously, what is there to say at this point? The Red Sox kicked off their trip to Texas with an excruciating 9-1 loss last night. Felix Doubront – who until his last few starts, had been quite possibly the lone beacon of hope in the Red Sox starting rotation – couldn’t get it together, and the Boston offense just fell off the planet.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the lone bright spot, when he powered a home run to right center field in the second inning. The Rangers, who are currently the best team in baseball, put up four runs in the third inning, though, care of an Elvis Andrus single a Josh Hamilton double, and a Michael Young single, with an assist from a throwing error by Dustin Pedroia.
But wait! There’s more: in the sixth inning, Mike Napoli hit a two-run home run, and then two singles and a sac fly quickly got the Rangers three more runs. Meanwhile, Rangers fill-in pitcher Scott Feldman – who the Red Sox should have hit around with their eyes closed – put up seven great innings of work, allowing seven hits, one run, and no walks en route to five strikeouts.
I don’t even want to talk about this game any more. Here’s the Cliffs Notes version: four-game skid, Texas and New York coming up, fielding errors, miniscule offense, continuously depressing starting pitching, all from a team with the marquee names to do much better.
Here’s what I do want to talk about: the trading deadline is a week away. The Red Sox are a game under .500. Obviously, they have the talent to win on paper. But, how much longer can the front office keep the faith in Boston’s chances on paper this year? Because in the end, paper doesn’t really matter: what happens on the field matters. A team’s potential is really only as good as its last game, and this team’s last game was horrible.
Could they turn it around? Sure. The second wild card spot’s still very much within Boston’s reach, but at this rate, it’s anything but guaranteed. Will they turn it around? I don’t know: Larry Lucchino’s “varsity” is pretty much back, and there’s been no seismic shift in this team’s play. The starting rotation has the same problems it’s had all year; the offense can’t keep it together for more than a game or two at a time (Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury are nice additions, but they can’t hit for nine spots in the lineup); and the regulars we’ve been so used to counting on (ahem, Dustin Pedroia) just can’t really be counted on right now. Andrew Bailey’s still not back from injury, that’s true – but as far as I can tell, the bullpen’s far from this team’s problem.
This one’s hard. This organization’s become used to winning, used to making a splash, used to getting the free agents and trade pieces it needs to put together a dominant squad. But at the same time, they haven’t sniffed the postseason in the last two years. They’re coming off an almost awe-inspiring late-season collapse that’s hung over into this year. They have big names, but none of those big names appear to have any big game.
I say, the Sox should be sellers at the deadline. Move some big pieces, give Bobby Valentine the flexibility to try some new things, and give some Pawtuckians a chance to show their big-league bosses their skills. If nothing else, it’s fun watching the Will Middlebrookses and the Pedro Ciriacos of the system compete, and compete well. But, if we’re looking at another two months of blockbuster names petering out, this team’s going to get very tough to root for.