Thursday, June 21, 2012
Shocking news: Red Sox still in it!
By David Schoenfield
David Ortiz is fed up with negative reports about the Red Sox and went off on a bit of a tirade. Although for a tirade, it seemed pretty tame, other than a four-letter word or three: "Look around, bro. Playing here used to be so much fun, and now every day it's something new not even related to baseball. People need to leave us alone and let us play ball, man, and let us do what we know how to do."
Good rant! And you know what ... he's right. The Red Sox are 35-33 and only six games out of first place and three games behind the wild-card-leading Orioles despite:
- Zero plate appearances from Carl Crawford.
- Thirty plate appearances from 2011 MVP runner-up Jacoby Ellsbury.
- Zero innings pitched from new closer Andrew Bailey.
- Losing one game when outfielder Darnell McDonald had to pitch in the 17th inning.
- Scott Podsednik, the 36-year-old veteran who didn't play in the majors in 2011, starting 16 games in the outfield after beginning the season in Triple-A ... with the Phillies ... where he hit .197.
- Let me repeat that: The Red Sox were so decimated by outfield injuries they traded for an old guy hitting .197 in Triple-A.
- Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz combining for a 4.75 ERA.
- Adrian Gonzalez, seventh in the 2011 MVP vote, hitting .257 with five home runs and a .312 OBP, 98 fewer points than a season ago.
- Dustin Pedroia battling a thumb injury and having the worst season of his career.
- Former All-Star Kevin Youkilis missing 27 games and not hitting well when he has played.
- The Daniel Bard-to-the-rotation experiment not exactly working with flying colors.
Despite all that ... THE RED SOX ARE TWO GAMES OVER .500 AND STILL VERY MUCH IN THE PLAYOFF RACE. In fact, I would make the argument that the Red Sox have been the most resilient team in baseball this year. It would have been easy to collapse under the barrage of injuries and struggling starting pitchers. But the Red Sox have found a way to remain competitive despite a roster full of Triple-A castoffs, past-their-prime veterans, waiver-wire fodder and prospects. It's been pretty amazing, all things considered.
But these are the Red Sox, of course, and it's hard to look at a team that has a $173 million payroll and say it has overachieved given everything that happened or has scrapped and clawed to stay close.
That, however, is the story of the 2012 Red Sox so far. Team Turmoil? Hardly. I'm with Ortiz: Let them play. (Cue "Bad News Bears" clip!)