This was supposed to be their season of redemption. A season that would erase baseball fans’ memories of the franchise’s disappointing 2010 regular season – when the team missed the playoffs and finished 89 – 73, its worst record since 2006.
Instead, after one week, the Boston Red Sox remain winless at 0 – 6, and look frustrated, confused and actually, just like they did at the start of last season when they started 2 -5.
So, is it time to panic for Red Sox Nation?
Last season, Boston’s pitching plagued them. Aside from Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, who combined for 36 wins and only 16 losses with a 2.79 ERA, the rest of the Red Sox starting rotation combined for 33 wins and 33 losses with a 5.05 ERA.
And although Boston’s general manager, Theo Epstein, went out and acquired big names such as Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Epstein did nothing to bolster the starting rotation, a move that might come back to haunt him and the Red Sox.
Through the first six games, only one Red Sox pitcher has given up less than three runs – Lester who received a no decision despite pitching seven innings without giving up a run.
As a whole, Boston’s starting rotation has combined to pitch only 32.1 innings in the six games, which has put an added pressure on the bullpen that has already logged 31.2 innings.
The pitching woes don’t end there.
Thus far, Lester, Buchholz, John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka have combined to allow 10 home runs and 24 earned runs, giving the rotation a combined 8.44 ERA.
Struggles at the Plate
Of course we can talk about how their offense is going to turn around.
And it will.
Do you really expect Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkillis to hit for less than .175 for the entire season?
Of course not.
But, at the same time, I think the media’s expectations might have been a little too high for this offense.
I understand what Crawford and Gonzalez will bring to the Red Sox. Crawford will steal around 45 bases per season and hit around .300 with 15 home runs and 85 RBIs. Gonzalez will give Boston a left-handed slugger who will protect Pedroia in the lineup and average around 35 home runs a season with more than 100 RBIs.
But what a lot of people forget about are the losses of Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, two of Boston’s best hitters in 2010.
According to baseball-reference.com, using the ‘adjusted batting wins’ category – that estimates a player’s total contributions to his team’s wins with his bat – Beltre’s 28 home runs, 102 RBIs and .321 batting average accounted for 3.3 of the Red Sox wins last – the highest number by any Boston player.
And although Martinez isn’t a great defensive catcher, he remains one of the best hitting catchers in Major League Baseball, and a player the Red Sox will have a hard time replacing.
I’m not saying the Red Sox won’t be a contender this season.
In fact, with a healthy Gonzalez, Pedroia and Crawford, Boston’s lineup will be as good as any other team in the American League.
I’m just saying that everyone jumped on Boston’s bandwagon as soon Epstein acquired the two superstars this offseason and didn’t look past Boston’s glamour to see their glaring weaknesses.
No matter how great the Red Sox lineup turns out to be this season, it will come down to their starting pitching and whether or not they can be effective.
Judging by their first starts. I’d panic.