By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

What’s wrong with the Red Sox? The answer.

I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong with the Red Sox. Brace yourselves: They’re not very good.

Sure, they could theoretically overcome their slow start. But I only see three players who’ve performed below expectations: Josh Beckett; Adrian Beltre defensively; and Jacoby Ellsbury, simply because he’s been hurt as a result of Beltre’s worst play of the season, if not his career.

Yes, Mike Cameron’s been out, too. But Darnell McDonald has probably been a more productive hitter.

Ortiz? Dice-K? Clay Buchholz? Ramon Ramirez? Were you really expecting more than they’ve given? If so, then you were expecting way too much.

The Sox have already shown they can be entertaining against mediocre teams. I think that’s the best we can hope for this season.


Keeping public records public


Getting more than he’s betting on


  1. Brian Beaulieu

    Dan, I know you’re hurting but you are really off base here. This is all the result of the Curse of Neil Diamond. He never should have been allowed to sing on opening day at Fenway. The curse cannot be reversed until James Taylor sings the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Brian: Now that would truly be cruel and unusual punishment.

  2. Steve Stein

    Dan, embrace your inner video journalist! We need a clip of you saying “They are who we thought they were.

    But in this case, I disagree. Let’s ignore individual performances for the moment and look at the team. Start with the advertised off-season concept – yeah, we’re not going to have the offense we’ve usually seen, but we will beef up the starting pitching and the defense, and we’ll be fine.

    How has that gone?

    Well, let’s look at the pitching – definitely below expectations. Last year through 31 games, the ERA was 4.95. This year it’s 5.11.

    How about the defense? Last year we had given up 8 unearned runs in the first 31 games. This year it’s 13. We expected better, and it’s a lot worse.

    The offense? Last year 181 runs scored, this year 156. Weaker – probably weaker than we wanted to admit.

    So when you say “they’re not very good”, it’s certainly true of the offense. But given what we expected in the off-season, pitching and defense are definitely below expectation.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    @Steve: Except for Beckett, I don’t think the starting pitching has underperformed at all. Buchholz and Dice-K are giving us exactly what I had expected, unfortunately. I don’t think Buchholz has a major-league head, and he’s not that young anymore, either — at least not so young that it can be used as an excuse. I just wish he’d put together four or five good starts so they can trade him. Dice-K’s best years were behind him when he got to the U.S., not unlike a lot of Japanese pitchers.

    As for the bullpen, Bard and Papelbon have been fine, and the rest of them are suspect (or worse). Again, exactly what we should have expected.

    The outfield defense will be much better when Ellsbury and Cameron return. But I’m afraid Beltre may be getting spooked, as we’ve seen many times in Boston over the years.

    Who among the hitters do you really expect to pick it up? Drew’s finally doing his thing. Martinez will get better. Ellsbury will provide a huge boost once he’s healthy. So, OK, I’ll grant you that. That’s a third of the line-up.

    But even though the Sox have had some adversity, the individual performances are not that far off from what we reasonably should have expected.

  4. Steve Stein

    Little things mean a lot. A .15 earned runs per game increase doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re expecting pitching to be BETTER not worse, and your offense is down, you’re going to be losing more games. Beckett hasn’t just been bad – he’s been HORRIBLE. Wakefield (substituting for the injured DiceK) similarly. And DiceK isn’t back. That means 13 of your 31 games have been started by guys with an ERA *over 6*! Was that in your expectations opening day? Not in mine.

    I like to look at the team as a whole because individuals will be hot, and individuals will be cold, but it what really matters is the performance of the team. Yes, Martinez is playing below expectations. Ortiz is, too – even acknowledging his diminished skills, I really do expect him to be hitting over 180. Having 2 injured starters means a lot, from a stability standpoint.

    And then there’s the defense. This team was sold on run-prevention, but the defense has been abysmal. Beltre was sold as the best 3Bman since Brooks Robinson. Instead, we get Joe Foy. I expected A LOT more than that.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: Were you really expecting more from Dice-K and Ortiz? Seriously? I’ll grant you the rest.

  5. Steve Stein

    Better than a 9.90 ERA from DiceK? Absolutely yes. (You think he’s REALLY this bad? I mean, this is tremendously bad. This gives bad a bad name.)

    Better than 178/265/410 from Ortiz? Yes again – though maybe not so absolutely.

    In both cases, I expect them both to have much better full-season numbers. (How could they be worse?)

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: During the off-season I actually was feeling optimistic about Dice-K. But once he showed up to spring training hurt, I figured it was another lost season.

      Ortiz? Looks like the same old story to me.

  6. Aaron Read

    I recently posted to Facebook about how us Sox fans used to laugh at the Yankees for paying a king’s ransom for a bunch of old, past-their-prime, out-of-shape, over-paid crybabies.

    My how the tables have turned.

    For a while there one of Theo’s greatest accomplishments was that he really revitalized the farm system; giving the Sox a deep well of talent that they could draw on both to supplement their roster AND as trade bait when needed. The past few years they seem to ignored the farm in favor of aging veterans and the results speak for themselves.

    OTOH, the Yankees have seen Theo’s success and copied it nicely. Unfortunately, they’ve also had an obscene amount of luck with their aging veterans playing like they’re 10 (or 20) years younger than they are (Posada, Jeter, A-Rod, Rivera, etc).

    I can’t help but think the Yankees will start to have age-related breakdowns eventually this season…but that won’t solve any of the problems the Red Sox have.

  7. Steve Stein

    Well, there are reasons to be gloomy about this season. But look on the bright side – the Rays couldn’t even manage a baserunner today!

    Ortiz is what he is. It wouldn’t surprise me if he hit 30 HRs this year, given his resurgence last year. But he’s no longer putting fear into any opposing pitchers hearts.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: I don’t know if I’m gloomy. You don’t get to go to the post-season every year.

      @Aaron: The one guy I think Theo signed out of sentiment was Lowell, and that was right after he won the World Series MVP. He, Ortiz and Varitek will all be gone next year.

  8. Mike Benedict

    -Pitching not underperforming?
    -Hitters not hitting?
    -Farm system complaints?

    Are you guys even slightly paying attention to what’s going on?


Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén