The State of the Red Sox

If a reality show were to be made about one baseball team in 2012, there is no doubt it would be the Boston Red Sox.

Talking to Red Sox fans around New England, one thing is for certain, only one team is on their mind, the New England Patriots. Just five games out of the wild card race and a formidable ten games back in the division, the 2012 Red Sox, have soured themselves in Red Sox Nation.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has had a tumultuous year, to say the least.  No matter what he does, in the eyes of the Sox veterans and fans, he is not Terry Francona. Bobby Valentine is old school, a hot-head who likes to challenge his players. Francona is composed, level-headed, and by all accounts a “players manager”. The Red Sox brass knew who Bobby V was when they hired him. They chose to hire him because they wanted change. The Francona method was no longer working in the Sox clubhouse.

Francona was at the helm of two WS wins. He will always be known as the manager who helped lead the Red Sox to their first WS win in eighty-six years. After seven years, his time was done after presiding over the club in one of the worst collapses in baseball history, squandering a nine game lead to the Tampa Rays in September of 2011. At the end of the Francona era, he lost the clubhouse. It seemed to be a combination of personal problem’s in his life and his lack of control over a clubhouse that was once his.

Shortly after the dismissal of Terry Francona, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein resigned to accept a job as GM of the Chicago Cubs. An era was over.

Enter Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine. Valentine and Francona couldn’t be more opposite. It made sense that the Sox brass would want to go in a different direction, if the Francona method is no longer working, the logical thing would be to go in a different direction. Unfortunately, when you have a bunch of spoiled veterans in your clubhouse, tough love doesn’t necessarily work.

Short of winning the WS this year, heads will roll in the off-season. Valentine called out Youkilis early in the season beginning the drama that would continue all season. Pedroia called out his manager shortly after saying, ” That’s not the way we do things around here”. Valentine publicly apologized. That was Valentine’s first mistake. It amazes me how shocked fans and Red Sox brass are when Valentine speaks his mind. We are talking about BOBBY VALENTINE. Not Joe Torre, not Mike Soscia, not Don Mattingly, BOBBY VALENTINE. It is almost like hiring Ozzie Guillen and expecting Grady Little.

Newsflash, even without Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox aren’t a good ballclub. Talented, no doubt, but it takes more than talent to win ball games.

Troubled starter, Josh Beckett is quickly becoming a cancer in the clubhouse. The arrogant starter no longer
has the passion for the game he once had. He would rather be playing golf than compete on the field and support his teammates. Easy solution would be to get rid of him, but the Red Sox are going to have to eat a sizeable chunk of his contract, not to mention find a team that wants to take a chance on the punk.

Offensive numbers are considerably down this year. There has been a rash of injuries. But, rarely is there a year in the game when there is not frequent injuries. Last year, the Red Sox weren’t immune to the DL with Crawford, Buchholz, and Lester injured, just to name a few. Injuries or not, a championship team finds a way to win.

In 2011, the Red Sox had 842 RBI’s, scored 875 runs, and had 102 SB. This year, with only 55 more games left to play, the Red Sox have 497 RBI’s, 524 runs, and 48 SB. Looking at a few of their starters, Beckett ended 2011 with a 2.89, through 102 games, this season his ERA is 4.54.  Buchholz went from a 3.48 in 2011 and currently has a 4.48. It doesn’t stop there, Lester’s 2011 ERA was 3.47, a far cry from his current 5.36.

If the Red Sox don’t catch lightning in a bottle, heads will roll at the end of the 2012 season. By heads rolling, I mean Valentine will be catching a one way ticket out of beantown. Is the subpar play of the 2012 Red Sox all Valentine’s fault? Not a chance. Will he get all the blame? Of course.

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