Our State of the Red Sox column is back for its 18th installment with a team that's been making more news off the field (text messages and Tommy John surgery) than on it. As always, we want to hear what you have to say about your favorite (or least favorite) team below in the comments section. And check back next week for the latest from the Red Sox right here.
Opening Statement“There’s so much stuff coming out of that clubhouse I wouldn’t be surprised if Manny Ramirez poked his head in there.” Those were the words of ESPN's Terry Francona in the ninth inning of Sunday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game. The 2012 Red Sox officially became a joke this week when a year of chaos reached the point where former members of the organization wondered aloud where Manny was. First, there’s the mysterious case of the Red Sox outfielder who wants Tommy John surgery despite being one of the hottest hitters on the team and not being a pitcher. Carl Crawford is meeting with the Red Sox brass and medical staff today to decide on the best course of action, but the fact he has all but begged to have the procedure over the last month or so, it’s a pretty safe bet Sunday night was his final game of the season. The only question is how much of next season he misses. Then, there’s the text message. For those who have forgotten, the Red Sox owners received a text message when the team was in New York in July asking for a meeting to discuss manager Bobby Valentine’s interactions with the team. Chief among the team’s gripes were Valentine saying “nice inning” to Will Middlebrooks after he made a couple of bad plays in an inning and the time he left Jon Lester in to give up 11 runs in an outing against Toronto. Depending on how which reporter you believe, there were up to 17 players at the meeting. It was eventually established that the initial message was sent from Adrian Gonzalez’s phone. Gonzalez has been said to be among Valentine’s harshest critics. The story seemed to be winding down, until a report out of New York this week said the text was put together by Kelly Shoppach, a backup catcher who has had some public spats with Valentine this year, who was traded to the Mets right before this latest report came out. Shoppach denies the report. Gonzalez denies pretty much everything except playing for the Red Sox. Valentine denies there’s a problem. I wish I could deny having watched any of this unfold. There’s a picture by the Associated Press the day after the meeting story broke. Valentine is in front of the bench in the dugout with one leg up in the air, foot on the bench, as he stands in front of Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Valentine’s hands are near his belt. The players are both looking away, their faces full of either disgust or disdain, perhaps both. It’s unclear what exactly is happening in the photo, which is actually a good thing since the picture is the greatest set up for a caption contest I’ve ever seen. It’s also the enduring image of the season. Valentine is doing something goofy and bombastic and the players are miserable. I’m not sure what’s worse about all this, that the Sox have been reduced to the point where I’ve gotten this far in the story without mentioning anything to do with the team’s on-field performance, or that I’m glad I’ve gotten this far without having to talk about the team’s on-field performance. Let’s spend a few minutes talking about the actual play on the field. After all, it doesn’t deserve much more than that.
|Only they know what's going on here. (AP photo)|
The High PointThe Red Sox managed to avoid a sweep in Baltimore with a win Thursday night, salvaging one game of a three-game set they pretty much had to sweep themselves to make a real playoff push. The highlight of the week came during that game, when Clay Buchholz struck out the side in the sixth inning on nine pitches, recording a perfect inning. OK, it’s not as cool as a perfect game, but at least it wasn’t anything to do with a text, a meeting or a feud.
The Low Point
The Baltimore series opened Tuesday with Josh Beckett on the mound. The team’s ace was on the hill with a chance to set the tone for the biggest series of the year. He gave up four runs on his own, then two more when Mark Melancon gave up a three-run homer. Beckett set the tone all right. He let the game and what was left of the season get away with another series of home runs allowed. One 7-1 loss later, Boston’s ace and its bullpen had been crushed. Oh, after the game, the Red Sox started to confirm the meeting took place. It all comes full circle eventually. Or in the case of the Red Sox, a spiral into oblivion.
|There was action on the field for the Sox this week. (AP photo)|
Adrian Gonzalez: His inability to remember who he lent his phone to aside, he has been on a tear of late, looking like the dangerous, versatile hitter the Red Sox chased for nearly two years. It’s just a shame that the run is coming too late.
Pedro Ciriaco: It’s official, he’s a Yankee killer. A 4-for-4 game in the Sox’ only win this weekend in New York certified him as a real threat to the Yankees.
Andrew Bailey: He’s pitched well in three relief appearances since coming off the DL. It will be interesting to see what the bullpen looks like over the next month, as it could give insight into Bailey’s role next season.
Dustin Pedroia: I’m not sure this situation could have been handled well, but Pedroia didn’t do much to make it go away. As the pseudo-captain at this point and with Francona gone, it’s his job to put out any fires. Goodness knows his manager won’t.
Josh Beckett: See everything I said above, then see him go in the offseason. I truly believe he wants to be here, and I believe he’s still capable of being a great pitcher (he was fantastic through last August). It just feels like too many bridges have been burned at this point.
Management: This includes the owners, Valentine and GM Ben Cherington, though bringing him into this might be unfair since he seems to have as much say in the goings on in Boston as I do. Larry Lucchino is more worried about his image than his team. John Henry is more worried about making sure the players love him than he is putting together a winning team, and Tom Werner is just around. Put those owners together with Valentine, who seems to be enjoying all the various messes, and you have chaos. The problem is, that’s what this ownership wants. Valentine was brought in to be a name and stir the pot. Lucchino loves confrontations with his GMs so he can show he’s in charge. And John Henry refuses to pull the trigger on any number of potential ways to fix some of the in-fighting. They say winning never gets old, but it did in Boston. Being in the news became more important.
The end of this franchise’s world as we know it. But first, the stretch drive, starting with a series at Fenway with the Angels.
More on the Red Sox:
Red Sox's Best and Worst of first half of season
State of the Red Sox - Edition 13
State of the Red Sox - Edition 12
State of the Red Sox - Edition 13
State of the Red Sox - Edition 12