ESPN Boston Red Sox analyst Curt Schilling said Tuesday morning he didn’t think the reeling Red Sox -- who have seen their wild-card lead cut to 2 games -- will make the playoffs.
“I don’t think they’re going to make it,” Schilling said in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “I don’t know they have the horses. I hope they do, I want them to, but I think there’s been a huge momentum shift and I can see Tampa winning out.”
(Schilling reiterated his opinion Tuesday night on "Baseball Tonight" in the video above.)
The Rays, of course, have won 6 of 7 from the Red Sox since the beginning of September and are on a roll heading down the home stretch of the season. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have developed major holes, most notably in the starting rotation. Boston starters’ ERA this month is a whopping 6.87.
Even if the Red Sox hang on to the wild-card lead and get into the playoffs, the former Sox ace Schilling doesn’t think they’ll be in position to make any noise. In fact, he’d prefer they not even make the postseason at all.
“It’s kind of crashing down around them,” Schilling said. “Somebody asked me last night about them making the playoffs and I said, ‘You know how I feel about these guys, you know how I feel about Terry (Francona) ... I don’t want them to make the playoffs because I don’t think they have a chance to go anywhere.’ I don’t think they’re physically going to be able to compete.
“From a pitching perspective you’ve got Josh (Beckett) and you’ve got Jon (Lester) and they’re going to have to be perfection. Honestly, I think if you’re going to get through October you’re going to have to bring your No. 1 back and throw three guys in a five-game series and three guys in a seven-game series.”
Schilling's comments were a hot topic in the Red Sox clubhouse before Tuesday night's game. Most wouldn't react on the record, but Jonathan Papelbon was among those who shared his thoughts.
“Obviously I’m in this clubhouse and I believe in my guys,” Papelbon said. “Then again, that’s part of his job now. He’s part of the media and he has the right to his opinion doesn’t he? I don’t think anybody in this clubhouse is going to take what Curt Schilling said and actually believe it, or think that what he says is going to happen.”
When asked if he thought Schilling was trying to use reverse psychology to get the team fired up, Papelbon didn’t seem to care.
“All that matters is what the 25 guys in this clubhouse think,” Papelbon said. “It doesn’t matter what Schill thinks. It’s doesn’t matter what anybody thinks. It only matters what the guys in this clubhouse think.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona did not hear Schilling’s comments, nor did he seem to care what he said.
"I don’t give a s---,” Francona said. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
In the morning interview, Schilling also discussed two struggling high-priced free-agent acquisitions that have been lightning rods for frustrated Red Sox fans.
Left fielder Carl Crawford, who sat out Sunday’s big game with the Rays (manager’s decision) and didn’t play in either game against the Orioles on Monday (sore neck), has had such a disappointing first season that he took time over the weekend to apologize to Red Sox fans in his ESPNBoston.com diary.
Asked whether Crawford should have played with the injury Monday because the team was fighting for its playoff life, Schilling made clear his opinion: “Carl Crawford is not a soft player.”
“I don’t know if he’s struggling mentally and having issues,” Schilling continued. “This guy is a gamer and a competitor and a winner. The blog article the other day, you might see it as a sign of weakness but he’s just an honest kid. He feels horrible for the season he’s having. One thing he’s learned this year about this place is that winning is everything, nothing else matters.”
As for John Lackey (6.49 ERA), last-year’s free agent prize who is on pace to set all sorts of team records for futility, Schilling didn’t seem surprised at how much his numbers have ballooned.
“I don’t think John Lackey is this bad by any stretch, but I’m not sure that the normal John Lackey is much different than you’ve seen,” Schilling said. “His career numbers are what they are. If you go back and look at his career numbers in Anaheim, he was a guy who gave up a lot of hits. He was a guy who didn’t have great command. He walked guys and gave up hits. Fortunately for him, he played in a division that wasn’t devastatingly offensive like the AL East. … You can argue that he’s had some bad luck here and there, but the fact of the matter is, that’s the pitcher that they paid for. ...
“I didn’t think he was an $18 million pitcher to begin with, I don’t think anybody did. I thought the market drove that price to the place it was, just like it did with Carl.”