At 43-43, the Red Sox are not playing up to potential. The team has been through ups and downs, and at times it seems David Ortiz is the only reason they win. With the trade deadline approaching, some feel Boston should shop for a few players. This is not necessary.
After an injury-plagued first half, Boston's key players are finally returning to the lineup. Yes, some pitch- I mean players have underperformed, but they can't take all of the blame. A league leading 20 players have been on the disabled list, and at one point, half of the payroll was injured at the same time. Other teams have suffered injuries, but the Sox were clearly the most injured in baseball.
Things are finally changing. The second half is here, players have had time to recover, and Boston needs to step up. Red Sox fans should be excited. Their team has been through hell, and despite being in the hardest division in baseball, they are still .500. They're only 2.5 games shy of a playoff spot thanks to the Wild Card expansion, and things can seemingly only improve.
The biggest boost will most likely come from Jacoby Ellsbury. In 2011, the center fielder looked unstoppable as carried the team to victory, highlighted by back-to-back games with walk-off hits in early August and reaching the 30-30 club in a two-home run game against the Yankees in late September. It's safe to say that fans were heartbroken when he injured his right shoulder earlier this season.
Finally, after months on the DL, Ellsbury is expected to return during their next series. The Silver Slugger will certainly boost the offense that already ranks top ten in runs (2), batting average (6), on base percentage (8) and slugging percentage (4). And that’s not even considering the Gold Glove level defense he adds to the lineup. But Ellsbury isn't the only player making a return.
Carl Crawford, who signed a monstrous seven-year, $142 million deal before the 2011 season, is expected to return on Monday. The Sox have been looking for the All-Star to show signs of his usual self and desperately need him to play up to his contract. With him, Ellsbury, and former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia returning within the week, the offense will have some serious firepower.
But hitting hasn't been a huge setback for Boston; pitching is where the real problem lies. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, the team's "top" two starters, have won just 9 games in 32 starts. They have terrible ERAs (4.49 and 4.43 respectively), and have clearly underperformed. But that's not the only problem, as All-Star closer Andrew Bailey has been sidelined all season and Daniel Bard has underperformed.
Things are beginning to look different. Bard has been brought back to the big leagues after a brief Triple-A demotion. He apparently has been working hard to prove he belongs in the Majors, so the team will be expecting his old talent. Bailey is also making steps towards the lineup and should return within a week or so.
When asked if the team could contend if the Lester and Beckett don't improve, Bobby Valentine simply said "no."
With Bard and Bailey back, and assuming they both pitch well, the bullpen might obtain some much needed momentum. Lester and Beckett have proven to be great pitchers in the past, so the team should not give up on them yet. Lester recently claimed he loves Boston and is happy to play for the Red Sox. Happy or not, he will need to win 10 games in the second half if the Red Sox want to be a contender. Beckett also needs to step up and prove he can still carry the team. When asked if the team could contend if the Lester and Beckett don't improve, Bobby Valentine simply said "no."
Valentine is just hoping for consistency. The manager claimed, "A little more stability would be good" and if the team has good health "the second half could be exciting." With the lineup they have, and could have if injuries are overcome, the Sox are a great team and do not need to make big changes. Despite a rocky start, the relievers have since been solid and have a 3.12 ERA. If the front of the rotation can also start to produce, the Sox can be very successful.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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