Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Red Sox Report: Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?

I've been up to my neck in Freedom Rides-related events this week, which may be good for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I have largely missed most of the Red Sox games from the last eight or ten days. Because while it's easy to look at the 0-7 and 2-10 start and pinpoint that as this team's sole problem, the reality is that they are 4-6 in the last ten games. When they hit they don't seem to pitch and when they pitch they don't seem to hit and even while the Yankees have struggles of their own the Sox have not made up ground, a trend they may well lament when August and September roll around.

At a certain point seemingly unlimited promise does not get the job done. Indeed there is nothing more disappointing than when promise fails to fulfill itself. Realistically, everyone thought the Indians would be wretched, so their performance is especially welcome for Cleveland fans. Or alternatively, baseball fans in Kansas City cannot possibly enter any given season with especially high hopes. But Red Sox fans? Well, our expectations are simply higher, and everything fuels those expectations, including management that knows it can get away with the highest ticket prices in baseball because the seemingly inexorable march through the Fenway turnstiles continues apace.

That said, it is still nearly impossible for me to imagine that this team will not start hitting in particular. Carl Crawford reminds me a lot of Edgar Renteria in 2005. It's easy (and self congratulatory) for Sox fans simply to chalk some players' inability to perform to the heightened expectations, knowledge, and intensity of the fan base. My guess is that most of the pressure Crawford is feeling comes from within. But whatever the circumstances, new guys tend to feel disproportionate heat when things go awry. All know is that a .515 OPS isn't going to get it done. Not in Fenway, but realistically, not anywhere. He's shown signs of life the last week or so, and that has to continue. But the rest of the lineup needs to produce as well. They rank 17th in runs and 19th in slugging percentage. That is, to be blunt, horrid.

The Sox have four games against an even more struggling Minnesota team and then two games against the Blue Jays, a team that probably is beginning to think it has a chance in the AL East. Then a week from today commences the second series of the season with the Yanks. It would be nice to be closer to first than to last when that happens. But it's not going to happen if they do not start putting the wood on the ball and keeping the other guys from doing the same.

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