2012 Boston Red Sox Update: Things Could be Worse

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How are you enjoying the James Loney era?

The current Red Sox team looks like it should be playing in that independent league where Roger Clemens is pitching. Six months ago, If I had told you that Loney, Scott Podsednik, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (at DH even though he’s hitting .229), Mike Aviles and Pedro Ciriaco were going to make up five-ninths of the team’s lineup on August 30, I’m guessing you would have tried to poke a few holes in the statement.

But there are no holes. That is a bulletproof statement. Those guys are the best we got, so we keep trotting them out there to die a slow death night-in and night-out. The team still has to play 162 games whether they make the playoffs or not – which sucks-  and the Sox are damn well going to do their best to keep this losing streak going into the month of September.

At 62-70, the Sox still have an outside shot at 100 losses if they drop their final 30 contests, which I’m not ruling out. They’ve already lost three in a row, and they still have a bunch of games with the Yankees. Plus, some guy named Zach Stewart started on the mound the other day. And, in my favorite recent development, the Sox have recalled Daniel Bard from Pawtucket with a plan to ruin his confidence over the final month of the season so he leaves the organization and goes to find himself in Thailand or something.

Bard has barely thrown a strike in the minors, but if you’re eight games under .500, I suppose you need all the help you can get – even if that help is Daniel Bard.

Whatever. I’ve barely watched a game since the trade and I don’t plan on watching many more this season unless I start betting on their opponents to make some quick cash. It’s all about the future now, and the Sox are amazingly getting a few things right.

First, they put Jon Lester on waivers, then realized how stupid it was and took him back. I don’t really understand putting him out there in the first place, but the team gets an A for effort in not letting him go.

Second, they’re actually playing some of the young guys. Jose Iglesias has started two of the last three games at shortstop, which makes sense considering he’s most likely going to be the shortstop next season. Mike Aviles should never see the field again, ever. There’s no reason for him. He’s not coming back, he sucks, and Iglesias needs all the reps he can get so he can improve and so the team can see what they actually have in him. Ryan Lavarnway is also playing consistently, which again makes sense because Jarrod Saltalmacchia is a horrible player except for the occasional moments when he closes his eyes, swings and pulls one over the right field fence.

Third, they suspended Alfredo Aceves for acting like a teenage girl when he found out that he wasn’t going to be the closer for one game, and have no removed him from the closer’s role. Aceves launched into a strange, Mexican tantrum after he didn’t close once, and then when he did get the chance again he blew his eighth save of the year. I have no issue with Aceves normally, because he stepped into a role he wasn’t really supposed to fill and he did an alright job for a while. But he acted…kind of a like a little bitch…and the team disciplined him. Also, by throwing Andrew Bailey into the fire, you get a chance to finally see what he can do. It’s the same sort of thing as letting Iglesias and Lavarnway play – Aceves isn’t going to be your closer next year (Bailey is), and this season is over, so why not start looking towards next year?

Fourth, they fired Bobby Valentine. What? They didn’t fire Bobby? Ah, man, okay. I jumped the gun on that one. Scratch that.

Fourth, they fired Bob McClure. It never made sense to have two pitching coaches. It’s hard to imagine how the team could look at that model and say, “Yes! Two voices coaching our pitchers – and perhaps leading them in separate directions – seems like the perfect way to solidify the staff.” But they did, and it was an abject failure. So at least they figured out that it wasn’t working. Better late then never.

Fifth, THEY TRADED AWAY $270 MILLION IN CONTRACTS. I know I covered that (here), and it’s been well-documented, but holy cow can you actually believe that happened? They went out and revamped their team only two years ago, getting Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford for $300 million. Then they traded both of them, in the same deal, and didn’t eat any money. Just staggering.  When you really think about it, it’s almost difficult to comprehend the shift from two years ago to now, and what has happened over the past two seasons. Adrian Gonzalez, the supposed anchor for the middle of the lineup for the next eight years, is in Los Angeles. Wow.

Who knows where it goes from here. This offseason will be as interesting an offseason as we’ve ever had around here. The year they signed Manny was a crazy offseason, and so was the one two years ago when they brought in Crawford and Gonzalez. This one is going to be crazier. They have so much money and such a bad team…what’s the move? They can’t just throw money at guys like they did before, because then they’ll fall back into the same trap of being hamstrung by bad contracts. It’s a little Catch-22-ish.

One thing working in their favor is a suddenly full farm system. They don’t have a bomber down there (someone who can slide into Gonzalez’s spot and hit 30 home runs), but they’ve got a lot of others. Will Middlebrooks is locked in at third, Iglesias and Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, Lavarnway at catcher, Jackie Bradley Jr. in the outfield and a pu-pu platter of Rubby De La Rosa, Matt Barnes and Allen Webster. So there’s that.

In the meantime though, enjoy watching the Sox quest to finish the AL basement. There’s still 30 more games.

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