We may be only two weeks into a six month baseball season, but it seems that there is some kind of disconnect going on. I am a huge supporter of Theo Epstein, but “run prevention” is close to being synonymous with “closer by committee” in my book. After 12 games, the Sox are five games back of first place at 4-8, and have not hit, pitched or defended very well. While bringing in guys like Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro to shore up the defense may have sounded like a great idea this winter (even to me), without a truly dangerous core to the lineup, the Sox are not going to be able to compete in the best division in baseball.
Earl Weaver, the legendary Orioles manager, once said that the key to winning in the American League was pitching, defense and the three run home run. The Sox brass definitely agrees with Weaver, seeing as they made defensive and pitching upgrades at the deadline in both 2004 (Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz, Dave Roberts) and 2007 (Gagne, who didn’t work out, but it was the right idea, and Ellsbury coming up from the minors) and won the World Series both times. This winter, without a truly elite slugger on the market, the front office pitched all their moves as part of a “run prevention” philosophy.
This was a smoke screen. With David Ortiz only showing up to the ballpark for the last four months of last season (he tried telecommuting in April and May) and Manny Ramirez doing his steroids in LA, the Sox are missing the third part of that plan, the three run home run, and from what I can see, the first two parts haven’t worked as planned. Marco Scutaro, the guy brought in to end the curse of Nomar, has been unimpressive, posting a .282 average with 1 home run and three RBI. His offense, while average, hasn’t been the problem though. He was brought in to do exactly what Julio Lugo could not and catch the ball, but has failed miserably at that, already making three errors, two of which cost the Sox a game.
Mike Cameron, also brought in to play defense, butchered a simple fly ball yesterday, allowing the Rays to jump on top 4-0 after the first and basically giving away another game. I have nothing bad to say about Adrian Beltre, though he has not dazzled, he has been as solid as he was expected to and his hitting has been as crappy as expected as well. The fact that neither of our catchers could throw out a base stealer to save the life of a child is not helping either.
The long and the short of it is that the grace period on the 2007 title has worn off, the new plan is not working, and if you hear grinding sounds in the background while you watch the Sox game tomorrow night, then it’s likely the headsman’s axe getting sharpened. Something must be done and patience is running short. At least we don’t have to wait long for the carnage tomorrow. See y’all at 11 am.