Lack of Offense Isn’t Hurting the Red Sox…

Yesterday, I received an email from the Red Sox Insider blog that I’m subscribed to, and it had some interesting statistics: 

The Red Sox are first in the Majors in both runs scored and hits. They are second in the Majors in homers and total bases; and they are third in the majors in slugging percentage and On Base plus slugging. 
However, when they look up, they see three teams in front of them: The Rays, the Yankees, and the Blue Jays. The Red Sox are in fourth place right now, and it doesn’t really make sense. Before the season even started, people were panicking about our supposed “lack of offense.” However, neither the Red Sox nor myself (among others) were too worried about the offense. As far as offense goes, there is not much to improve upon with those statistics. The Red Sox are in the top three in some of the most important categories. 
I must admit, though, these statistics took me by surprise; especially leading the Majors in home runs. I was expecting key hits and a little more small ball to get us through the season, not the long ball. I have also lamented many a time about the Red Sox’s struggles with runners in scoring position. Yet they are first in runs scored! 
So if the offense is so good, then why are the Red Sox in fourth place? It’s because the pitching and defense have not lived up to their expectations, and this is not Theo Epstein’s fault. He went out and acquired the best people he could find. Adrian Beltre is arguably the best third baseman in the league, but he already has an unacceptable amount of errors. Marco Scutaro is also in a similar situation. His eye and ability to draw walks from the leadoff spot has been invaluable and often overlooked, but some of his throws to first base have simply been atrocious. 
Now I don’t want to hear any of this “we should have kept Alex Gonzalez stuff.” Yes, he has been off to a hot start offensively, but his defense has been anything but pretty. Ever since Nomar Garciaparra’s departure, the Red Sox’s least solid position has been the shortstop. And it will continue to be this way until Jose Iglesias is called up. 
Mike Cameron has also made some critical errors in the outfield. Some of you may remember that start that Clay Buchholz had, and the easy fly ball that Cameron missed cost the Red Sox four runs. Honestly, I think that the Cameron signing was unnecessary. The Red Sox could have kept Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, and they could have platooned Jeremy Hermida and Josh Reddick in left field. 
Those of you who follow the Pawtucket Red Sox know that Josh Reddick is struggling with a sub .200 average. He literally had the best Spring Training of all of the Red Sox, and I think not making the team probably took a bit of a mental toll on him, which is totally understandable. I think that he was ready to be with the big league club this year (even if it was just coming off the bench), so when the Red Sox signed Mike Cameron, that probably came as a bit of a slap in the face. On the other hand, Hermida has had some clutch hits for the Red Sox so far this season. Many of the Marlins fans that I have spoken to were so glad to get Hermida off their hands, but I think that having him come off the bench has helped him out. The only problem is that his fielding is sloppy. 
The other problem the Red Sox have had is inconsistent pitching, as I have mentioned before. Josh Beckett, the supposed ace of our staff, was placed on the 15-Day DL yesterday; and our most consistent starter has been Clay Buchholz. A consistent, dominant Josh Beckett is essential to the starting rotation. Luckily, Jon Lester has significantly improved after his first couple of starts in April, but this seems to be a trend for him. John Lackey has been disappointing thus far. The Red Sox signed him to be like Josh Beckett, but at this point in the season, do they really want him to be like Josh Beckett? I just want him to be himself. 
Daisuke Matsuzaka is another story entirely. He had one extremely dominating start in which he struck out ten batters and walked none, but he was not able to carry that over into the following start. For the most part, he has had one bad inning in which he simply falls apart, and the Red Sox cannot have this in the starting rotation. Perhaps Tim Wakefield would be more effective in the starting rotation. Perhaps the only reason that it is Tim Wakefield in the bullpen and Matsuzaka in the rotation is because of the significant contract disparity. 
felix doubront-thumb-350x262-1772061.jpg
A couple of roster moves have occurred over the last day or so. With Josh Beckett moving to the DL, reliever and man of the Vulcan pitch Joe Nelson was called up to fill that roster spot. Scott Schoeneweis, who has not been effective out of the bullpen at all this year, was designated for assignment. To fill his roster spot, SS Angel Sanchez was called up. By the way, I was very impressed with Angel Sanchez during the spring. In the minor leagues, Bryan Peterson was called up to Salem to fill Anthony Rizzo’s spot on the roster. Felix Doubront, who was 4-0 to start the season in Portland, was called up to Pawtucket. 
In spring training, there were about four guys competing for a spot in the bullpen: Scott Atchinson, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Nelson, and Brian Shouse. I was not impressed with any of them. You all know what is coming: my argument for my projects. 
Tim Wakefield will be moving back to the starting rotation. This makes sense, but another option that the Red Sox have is calling up Michael Bowden for a spot start or two. Remember how I compared him to Justin Masterson? I remember Masterson making some starts in early 2008 and 2009, and he was really effective when the Red Sox needed him, and I have no doubt in my mind that Michael Bowden would do the same. 
The Red Sox could also use a solid, left handed reliever like Dustin Richardson in the bullpen. He has been nearly untouchable in Pawtucket, and I think that he could be exactly what the Red Sox need coming out of the bullpen. 
The last problem that the Red Sox have is an internal one. On Tuesday, Mike Lowell confessed his true feelings about his situation to WEEI. He basically said that he knows that he does not have a role on the team, and that he literally fills a roster spot. I know that this type of “attitude” can be detrimental to a clubhouse, but I think that Lowell is perfectly justified in voicing his opinions. He has had such a good attitude through all of this, and I do not think that it is going to have a real effect on how others play. Whenever he is put into a game, he puts in 110% effort. The problem is, he is rarely put into a game. 
With the re-surging David Ortiz, Mike Lowell’s playing time will diminish even more. Yet as he was speaking to WEEI, the said that he agreed that David Ortiz should get as much playing time as possible
so that the Red Sox can see if he is just going through a funk, or if his career is actually coming to an end. He obviously wants what is best for the team, which is why he mused that the team might be better off without him. 
Thumbnail image for Mike Lowell 4.jpg
Look, I really like Mike Lowell. My dad and I call him the black hole at third base, and he is known as Mr. Double. *Tangent*: My physics teacher told me that he gave his Physics Honors class a question on momentum that had to do with Mike Lowell. The basic point of the question was whether or not the ball went over the green monster, or if it was a double. Without even thinking about the necessary calculations involved, I said that he would hit a double because he is Mr. Double. Unfortunately, I would have only received partial credit. 
Anyway, I think that Mike Lowell is right. I am sure that there are a lot of teams out there that could really use Mike Lowell if he was only given the chance. Consider the following hypothetical situation: having Mike Lowell play third base and having Adrian Beltre DH. I am willing to bet that we would see some pretty incredible plays from Lowell. Terry Francona was platooning Lowell and Ortiz for a little while when Ortiz was struggling depending on the matchup. But like I said, if Ortiz can maintain some consistency, then this will no longer happen. 
The Red Sox obviously want to remedy their situation. But going out and buying another bat or trading precious prospects for it is not the solution, and the statistics show you that.It is not realistic for the Red Sox to trade for a starter because four of our five starters are under big contracts. This is why I say we give Michael Bowden a chance. I know he can do it. 
The fact that the offense is performing so well and yet the Red Sox are still in fourth place further reinforces the concept that pitching and defense are among the most important components of a solid team. Hopefully those components, which look absolutely fantastic on paper, will being to look fantastic where it matters: on the baseball diamond. 
Before I go, I just wanted to inform you guys about a couple of things: First of all, I will be at the Red Sox vs Rays game next Wednesday night! This is exactly what I wanted for my birthday. My parents asked me what I wanted, and I said, “Tickets to the Red Sox game.” I have tickets 12 rows behind the Red Sox dugout, so I will be getting there when the gates open to get autographs. The only downside is that it is right in between my finals, so I have a French final the next day (four hours away), but as you can see, I have my priorities straight. And as far as summer plans go, I have been lucky enough to get a few opportunities. If all goes according to plan, I will be shadowing Dan Hoard and Steve Hyder, the broadcasters of the Pawtucket Red Sox, for a week; and Mike Antonellis and others in the media relations department with the Portland Sea Dogs for a week (or maybe more). 

16 Comments

Watch your back Heidi, you could have serious competition soon…as always, great insight and obnoxiously good pictures of you with Red Sox players. Keep up the good work!

Watch your back Heidi, you could have serious competition soon…as always, great insight and obnoxiously good pictures of you with Red Sox players. Keep up the good work!

dammit, internet!

Happy Pre-Birthday and how exciting that you’ll be at the Rays-Red Sox series at the Trop! Knowing you, you’ll still manage to ace your tests. Tough situation with Lowell, but he’s a straight shooter and a team guy, so I’m sure it will resolve amicably for all concerned.

- http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

The Mike Lowell situation is like the Juan Pierre situation on the Dodgers except that Juan had a huge salary. We did get John Ely in trade though!! :)

Yeah, so far that pitching and defense strategy ain’t workin’. Too… many… sloppy… plays. On Defense. Unacceptable at the Big League level. With the Rays and Yanks playin’ so well, the Sox better right the ship quickly. The good news is: if any team can do that it’s the Red Sox.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

So the BoSOx have won 3 in a row, can they keep it up this weekend as they come to the city of brotherly love….

-peter
Phillies Outside

Happy early birthday Elizabeth! and how cool is that that you got tickets to your beloved Red Sox! Seating is excellent! Maybe since you are getting there super early, you can take your French book with you.
Emma
http;//crzblue.mlblogs.com

Happy Birthday. Sounds like you’ll have a great one. I look forward to reading up on you Minor League adventures this summer. What a great opportunity for you.
–Mike
‘Minoring In Baseball’
http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com

I personally would like to see Mike playing more, be it at 3B or DH, but that is not happening anytime soon. So, I would think he would be happiest playing elsewhere. If we could swing a trade, that would be great. Otherwise, he’ll fill in nicely if someone gets injured (which, as Mike noted well, we don’t wish for). If we do try a trade, I would hope we’d do better than the trade we attempted with Texas. Even if we are just looking for a backup player or two in return, a 3rd or 4th string catcher is NOT what we needed. GO SOX!

Ortiz scared the crap out of me in the 9th last night. SO close to a Grand Slam….yikes! Can he just take a short vacation the next two games? LOL

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Holy Cow! An incredible post. You caught me by surprise with the Red Sox offensive info too. Dice-K’s performance today was very nice to see. Like you say, if that pitching shapes up and the defense tightens up, the BoSox can still go on a tear and be right in the mix.
Good luck with finals!
mike
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

That was quite the comprehensive post. There are lots of things going on with the Sox right now (though they look pretty good tonight, darn it). Their starting pitching is up and down, their defense is atrocious, and their offense is lights out from time to time. Technically, it is still very early. I am hoping that the Rays can get together a good series agianst your guys so we can put you away. If you sweep us you’ll be just 5 1/2 out and right back into the race!

http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com/

Well, the Red Sox pitching did a pretty good job of shutting down the Phillies two out of three games. Guess you’ll be at the game tonight – happy birthday! Good luck on those exams, too!
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

Well.. you tried to cover the “bases” and stopped short of scoring with this diatribe… ok… to critique the “Dead” Sox’s lack luster performance vis a vis huddling in third place… I recall the immortal words of the legend in Kathy Gifford’s mind.. Frank Gifford.. when forced in silence in the Football booth with Howard Co-smell… he could not get in edge wise as Howie went on and on trying to codify what was wrong with the unsuccessful team they were commenting on… frank, not known for articulate or cogent remarks… sum up in a simple declarative sentence what Howard had struggled with for 5-7 minutes of his obfuscating verbiage an failed to put into perspective.. same applies here, summing up the Red Sox and their lack luster performances… “They need some good players” .. that was Frank’s gem.. and applies here.

Age is showing up in injuries.. and BoSox need to rethink recruiting younger players.. and don’t spend again like they did for Dice K.. think! If they had allowed Dice K to go to yankees, we could be laughing at their foolish spending.. instead, it’s the other way around. Dice has had his moment in the big leagues.. time for him to go home and eat sushi.

Everything is true!
Go in look look: http://www.bizboysell.com
Believe that you may need.

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