I don’t remember if there has ever been an All-Star Break that has been so interminably long (aided by the fact that I was away for the week leading up to it), but that I have been so O.K. with. The Sox are beat to shit, and nothing can do them better than some time off. Sure the All-Star game was fun (no it wasn’t, it was boring and poorly managed, but I’m getting more and more convinced that Bud Selig is a killer robot each day and want to keep him happy), and the NL finally won one, which means that the Sox can sweep at Fenway this year as opposed to some pissant NL town.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a midseason break without some type of list commemorating the first half or looking forward to the second. Seeing as the M*A*S*H unit Sox have limped into the break on pace to win 94 games without half of their team (and still finish third in the best division in baseball history), I’m going to just let all that be and get ready for what’s next. So with no more adieu and without further gilding the lilly, I present to you the short list of things to watch out for the rest of the 2010 Red Sox season.
Dustin Pedroia’s CT scan (Thursday): Seriously, the whole season might hinge on this. If everything goes well, The Laser Show (awesome new nickname from Peter Abraham of Extra Bases) will be off the crutches and back doing something less crutchy this week. That puts a return sometime at the beginning of next month, or knowing our MVP second baseman, the end of July. If this all goes through, our best hitter is back in the lineup with two months to go, we have a gold glover back at a premium defensive position and the sparkplug back in the clubhouse.
If it doesn’t show adequate progress I’m packing up my balls and going home, because that means surgery and see you in February. That’s how important Pedroia is to the Sox.
The Returns of Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Victor Martinez (Next two weeks): Beckett is the wild card here. He could power through a rehab start or three and then come in and make the rest of the AL his own personal fire hydrant for the rest of the season. He could come back and do his best Jeff Suppan impersonation, leaving the fans to wonder what that $68 million extension did to him. Buchholz is going to come back from vacation, which is what this DL stint was, not a real injury, and be exactly the guy that he was in the first half and challenge Lester for the Cy Young. (These Two Week DL stints for every pitcher on the staff are truly a brilliant idea). Victor, well, Victor will stabilize the pitching staff because they won’t be throwing to Kevin Cash any more and provide a semblance of normalcy for a lineup that has been missing the three guys at the top. All good things.
Trading Deadline (July 31): Consider this an open letter to Theo, Lucchino, Henry and the rest: Don’t be pussies. Love, the people who pay your bills. This is when we will know if the front office has decided that this team is going all the way, or that this really has been a bridge year and our getting wrapped up in this team was pure folly. If they decide to play the “Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett and Jed Lowrie were our midseason pickups” card then they are pussying out and looking towards next year, but if David DeJesus (my buddy the Reverend’s favorite player) makes an appearance with a B on his cap, and a reliable relief pitcher (or two) strolls in from the ‘pen, then we have ourselves an ownership sponsored contender. Keep an eye on this one.
The expiration date on Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald (sometime in late August): This may be really pessimistic, but these guys haven’t done it in the past for a reason, and this is when Nick Green melted into a pool of jelly on the infield last season. Don’t get me wrong, these guys have been lifesavers for us and hopefully this doesn’t happen and we get a sequel to The Rookie based on this year’s Sox out of it, but the reality is that there had better be some movement on Ellsbury and DeJesus (yes, I have completely given up on Mike Cameron. He is playing through a lot of pain and not being a sissy about it, but at this point I don’t see him making a significant contribution to the club) soon, or we are heading into one wild ass pennant race with one arm tied behind our backs.
The Parade (early November): Anyone else see a touch of destiny sprinkled on this club?