Saturday, April 16, 2011
A nearly yearly objective of Red Sox is to build a baseball team that has a high probability of winning ninety-five games and making the playoffs. It was a near universal notion that the 2011 Olde Towne Team was going to accomplish the above goal. As we know, it has been a very rough start. So the question has to be asked: can the Red Sox still make the postseason?
The answer is yes. We have a lot of Red Sox baseball to still watch and players with a track record produce at a similar rate to the back of their baseball cards or player page come the end of September. Even the riskier players – the ones in their mid-thirties – that could have drops in performance, the Red Sox have a number of internal options. If J.D. Drew, David Ortiz or Marco Scutaro can’t produce as they have in the past, Mike Cameron, Darnel McDonald, Ryan Kalish, Jed Lowrie, or Jose Igelasis could step in. This team will score runs. The issue is run prevention and specifically, starting pitching.
A simple and optimist projection for the rotation would be that games Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Josh Beckett start, the Red Sox would win sixty-five percent of those ninety-six games (32 GS each) for sixty-two wins. The remaining sixty-six games would feature John Lackey (32 GS), Daisuke Matsuzaka (25 GS) and Tim Wakefield (9 GS). The Red Sox would win half of this trio’s starts, which brings the Olde Towne Team’s win total to ninety-five games. But given the terrible starts and stuff from Lackey and Matsuzaka, neither should be counted on to even with fifty percent of their starts without significant improvement. They have shown nothing so far. The Red Sox need to prepare for other rotation options in and outside of the organization.
The team’s poor start does not give them the luxury of waiting for Lackey or Matsuzaka to work out their issues on every fifth day. The duo is too important. A club cannot think of themselves as playoff contenders when roughly a third of their games they find themselves behind the eight ball after only a few innings of play.
If neither shows improvement in their next start or two, Felix Doubront and Wakefield should take a regular turn. The Olde Towne Team cannot be patient with Lackey or Matsuzaka, as they have with other veterans that get off to a slow start. The Red Sox may need to make a tough decision or two in the next couple of weeks.