Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘injuries’


The 2014 season seemed promising for the defending World Series champion Red Sox. They returned almost all of their starting rotation. The missing member of the 6 primary starters from the previous season was its weakest link: Dempster. The bullpen was largely intact as well. The pitching seemed to be ready to go. The one mystery was how Buchholz would bounce back from the injuries that hampered him for the 2nd half of the season.

They had a number of new players in key positions. Two were highly touted rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Ellsbury would be missed in terms of offense but they hoped to make that up with Xander’s estimated production to be far greater the Stephen Drew’s. I was not wild about the signing of Pierzynski but his offense was expected to compensate to the loss of Saltalamacchia (he was go from .273 to a paltry .220 with the Marlins). The hope was for Middlebrooks to bounce back.

The plan was slightly altered when Grady Sizemore had an awesome camp and make the opening day roster. Looked great but then he failed to produce at the same pace. Or nearly any pace.

But I get slightly ahead of myself. All the breaks that went their way in 2013 didn’t in 2014. The new replay system seemed stacked against them in the first month as everyone tried to adjust. Lots of blown calls seemed to go against them. Some of these were game changers, or so it seemed.

Another thing that went right in 2013 is that a high number of players who played above their means. They had above average seasons, often career years. Saltalamacchia, Nava, Carp had career best seasons. Papi hit exceedingly well for his age. He hit for average and power. Napoli bounced back to have a good offensive season as did Victorino. Part of what went wrong was regression to mean for the players still on the roster, and not on the injured list.

The main problems initially were a lack of production from the outfield. Nava was pressing and in a big slump to start the season. Victorino was hurt and the combination of Sizemore and Bradley hit about .220. Middlebrooks continued to struggle. The offense was stagnant. Even Pedroia and Papi got off to a slow start. Seemed like the only guys who didn’t were Napoli and Xander.

Buccholz was just plain horrible. New reliever Mujica was too, and blew some games early. Peavy just couldn’t buy a break.

And then the real problems started. Napoli injured a finger and was never the same. Middlebrooks got hurt, again. This “forced” them to re-sign Drew and shift Xander to 3rd. For the first time in his career, shortly after the switch, Xander entered a big, ugly slump. Unknown to the rest of the world, Pedroia was still hurt and not productive at the plate though he still played stellar defense. But he was the only one. Okay, Bradley was playing fantastic defense. Xander struggled at third, and they couldn’t throw a base runner out.

The changes started to come fast and furious. They gave up on Sizemore and cut him (he was hitting .216 at the time and hit a slightly more respectable .243 for the Phillies). Pierzynki was cut (he hit .254 for the Sox and would go on to the Cards and hit .244 for them on the way to the playoffs). Peavy (1-9, 4.72) was traded to San Francisco where he was 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA helping the Giants make the playoffs. Amid tons of chatter about signing an extension, Lester was traded to the A’s who he helped make the playoffs. Lackey was sent to St. Louis whom he helped make the playoffs. Noticing a theme here? Let’s not forget trading Miller to division champion Baltimore.

One plus was that Christian Vasquez had the opportunity to show he can handle a staff and throw out runners. His production was not great, but he stopped the other teams that ran at will on Boston early in the season. Those runs saved amount to something important.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


2012 was a nightmare year for the Red Sox. They were mediocre until the Nick Punto Trade. After the trade that freed up all that money for the future, they were downright horrible.

2013 was in incredible surprise. I thought they would be good, but not World Series Champion good until about August. The hopes of Red Sox Nation were restored. The new model seemed to pay off: no long term contracts, overpay if you need to to do it.

Then came the off season. I will admit, I thought they would be better than they have been. But it seems that Ben over-played his hand. There was too much change. I saw recently that most World Series Champions experience about 20% roster change. The question is, what 20% should change. In 2004 they lost Pedro and Damon. Those were very big pieces to lose. In 2005 they were good but were quickly dumped from the playoffs from the eventual World Series Champion White Sox.

They seemed to learn the lesson. After the 2007 championship, they held on to Mike Lowell who was their primary free agent. It would be a mistake as his hips betrayed him. It nearly paid off as they got all the way to game 7 of the ALCS. All they needed was either a healthy Lowell or Beckett to return to the World Series.

After the victory in 2013 they had some difficult decisions to make as Ellsbury, Napoli, Drew and Saltalamacchia were free agents. All of them were key starters. They made reasonable attempts to retain Napoli and Drew. They made a feeble attempt to retain Ellsbury. Who knows, if they made a real offer during the exclusive negotiation period he might not have gone to the Yankees. I would not pay him what they paid him, but I certainly would have offered him more than they did. They decided to move on from Salty.

The reasons for both were the development of prospects at short (Bogaerts), center (Bradley) and catcher (Vazquez and Swihart). The result was that they had a new catcher to buy time for the prospects, an inexperienced left side of the infield in Middlebrooks and Bogaerts and an inexperienced centerfielder. They also took a gamble on a rebuilt Grady Sizemore who looked very promising in Spring Training but created a log jam in the outfield.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


When he looks like you ace … you’ve got trouble.

It is the All-Star break. This means that the Red Sox can’t lose any games, and no more players can get hurt unless they pull an Irving Fryer or get hit by a bus. New England can catch its breathe, breath deep and so some version of “Serenity now!”, “Goosfraba!” or “Calgone, take me away!”. It was a most frustrating first half of the season. There has been lots of analysis. I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents worth, which is probably more logical and levelheaded than people like CHB, or his nemesis The Schill.

What Went Wrong

It would be easier to ask what went right. Injuries. Check. Bad manager’s moves. Check.

The main problem, from my perspective, is starting pitching. This should sound familiar, because I said this was the main cause of the September Slide of 2011. They got nothing out of Lester and Beckett, and Buchholz was hurt. This is nearly a replay. Lester and Beckett have nearly respectable ERAs and have pitched very well in 2 or 3 games apiece. But these guys are not supposed to be on the north side of respectable. They are supposed to be pitching 7-8 innings a start, not 5-6. They are supposed to be leading the staff in ERA, wins, Ks and every other pitching state aside from saves and holds. But they aren’t. Not close. You’d be happy if they were the 4th and 5th starters, but they are the 1st and 2nd.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Who’d of thought he’d be such a huge loss?

Since I can’t find my copy of Four Views of the Book of Revelation in order to cover the 3rd view, I’ll consider sports. I’ve been meaning to work on this post for a few weeks, but haven’t had the free time and mental space. You may think I still don’t have the mental space for it.

I want to consider a similarity between the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics: injuries. The point being how injuries have derailed the last few seasons for both teams. Sports teams are really fragile things. There are times when teams can survive and even thrive during a rash of injuries. The Green Bay Packers did this to win the Superbowl in 2011. Those instances are rare. Most often, the depth of a team is tried and then depleted. Hopes vanish and dreams are squashed.

The Celtics won the NBA title in 2008 and seemed poised to win a few more before the New Big Three fell apart. But injuries have continually derailed that hope, and Celtics fans are disappointed. In 2009 it was Kevin Garnett’s various injuries that left them depleted. Without him they nearly beat the Magic to advance in the playoffs, but it was not to be. A healthy KG, and the Celtics go to the Finals. The next year, KG was not healthy, but was playing. They made it to the Finals against the Lakers. Then, in Game 6, Perkins blew out his knee. His presence in that abysmal Game 7, the film of which should be burned for the sake of both teams, may have made a significant difference. We won’t know. But the Lakers did triumph.

Then there was last year. KG was healthy, but there was the big trade that sent Perkins packing for 2 players. He was still not right, but the emotional toll on the team seemed too big. Both O’Neals had injury problems. Until the playoffs. They put it together after their late season skid. They made it to the conference finals against the arrogant Miami Heat who hope to win 7-8 titles in their imaginations (Father, may it not even be one- oppose the proud!). In a painful moment caught on film, D-Wade pulled down Rondo while falling. Really cheap play, and their series this season against the Pacers shows they are inclined toward the cheap plays. Rondo’s dislocated elbow sunk the Celtics. He valiantly tried to play, but with only one functioning arm, his defense was a liability. That moment dashed the Celtics hopes.

We felt his pain.

The Red Sox are in a similar state of affairs. They won the World Series in 2007. Despite injuries to Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, the Red Sox made it all the way to the AL Championship against new rivals the Rays in their first ever play off appearance. Beckett pitched, but was a shell of himself. So close, but they fell in 7 to the Rays who would get handled easily in the World Series. Oh, for a healthy Beckett or Lowell. Just one would have tipped the scales enough. Just one.

2009 was just a mess for the Red Sox. It is a blur of injuries in the last few months that sunk a promising season. I have erased it from my memory.

2010 looked so promising. In the opening weeks they lost Ellsbury and Mike Cameron for essentially the season. Beltre not only provided power to the line up but single-handedly destroyed the outfield.  The only remaining starting outfielder was J.D. Drew, and we all know he’s good for a few trips to the DL. Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald came out of nowhere to provide some spark. But then the injuries began to mount up- Youkilis, Pedroia, Martinez. So many injuries to key players- there were done. D-O-N-E.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


This was not the collapse some of the economists have been predicting.  But it felt as devastating.  The team that had the best record in May-August utterly fell apart.  They went from leading the division to not making the playoffs in the course of a month.

There are plenty of people pointing fingers. I’ve read some ridiculous statements.  I’m going to try and put all this together so it makes sense- not sensationalistic headlines.

Issues of payroll are utterly irrelevant.  I don’t care how much a guy is being paid, if he’s hurt he can’t help the team.  So the size of the Red Sox payroll is ultimately irrelevant in this discussion.  You also can’t look at the roster on paper.  You have to see the roster that can actually suit up.

I refuse to point the finger at Theo or Francona.  At the trade deadline the Sox were in an enviable position.  People were largely singing their praises.  Only hindsight is 20/20, so don’t blame them for not having the gift of prophecy.

The seeds of the collapse were sown in Spring Training with Felix Doubront showing up out of shape.  The team had high hopes for him, and he was positioned to be the spot starter like Lester and Buchholz had been before him.  His job was to be ready.  He wasn’t, and suffered a number of injuries.  The depth they had at pitching took its first hit.  And a big hit since they would be forced to rely on the inconsistent Miller and overmatched Weiland.  This would cost them critical games.

It's lonely when you lose

Ryan Kalish’s injury was also pretty big.  Reddick was the guy who ended up filling in for the injured Drew.  He’s streaky, the book says, and he proved it.  He was on fire when he came up.  But down the stretch he struggled horribly.  A healthy Kalish, the heir apparent to right field before the season, would have made a big difference.  But it was not to be (and THAT, my friends, is part of what A-Gon was trying to say).

Diva-K’s injury seemed like a boon at first.  He was horrible!  But if his arm wasn’t messed up, he would’ve been better.  Instead we got a loveable but too old Wakefield and his quest for 200 wins.  It became a source of instability in the rotation.  Combine that with John (S)lackey’s ever deteriorating performance and the 4th and 5th spots on the rotation gave the Sox next to nothing.  Not even innings since no one when deep into games.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


When We See This Again

It is incomprehensible that the Bruins are still playing and the Celtics are done.  Both the Celtics and Patriots were sent packing earlier than expected, and the Red Sox can’t seem to break .500.  The Bruins?  They just defeated long-time foes the Canadians and Broadstreet Bullies (who derailed the last few seasons for the Bruins by putting key players out of commission).

So what went wrong with the Celtics’ season?  Lots of things actually.  Danny Ainge, in a WEEI interview today, admitted that one of the key mistakes he made was letting Tony Allen leave for Memphis.  There he has found more playing time (now that Rudy Gay got hurt) and they are still playing though not for long.  That was an important decision, and they could have used Tony to defend the Heat on the perimeter.  While Tony has issues, he was an important piece for the last few seasons.

Instead of Tony, they initially relied on Marquis Daniels to spell Paul Pierce.  This probably wasn’t the wisest thing since he was injured much of the previous season.  He actually played very well, until the injury that ended his season.  The stage was set for a perfect storm.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Going into this season most people, Cavman included, thought starting pitching was the Red Sox greatest strength.  I didn’t think the offense was as “average” as some people.  But so far the starting pitching has been the weakest link, despite numerous injuries to key position players.  We have seen Lowrie, Lugo, Kotsay and now Youkilis on the DL, with games also missed by Ellsbury, Drew and Papi due to injury.

Despite the games missed, the Sox are still 21-13 which would put them in first in most divisions (well, the Blue Jays have barely played any AL East teams).  No thanks to the starting pitching- Wakefield excepted.  Lester and Beckett have been greatly disappointing.

I think it is time to bring up Clay Buchholz who continues to dominate as he did in Spring Training.  This puts Masterson back in the bullpen where he is most effective.  When Dice-K gets back, give Lester and Beckett some rest.  They obviously need time to either rest or figure something out.  Go to a 6 man rotation, I don’t know.  But if the Red Sox have average starting pitching they would have a better record than the one they already do.  That speaks volumes about the fantastic job the hitters and bullpen have done, with the exception of the recently designated for assigment Javier Lopez.

I suppose they could just keep doing what they are doing.  But, will that help Beckett (6.42), Lester (6.31)and Penny (6.9) get back on track.  Seriously 3/5 of the rotation with ERAs over 6- two of them aces????  It is a miracle they aren’t hanging out with the Rays and Orioles.  I am grateful for this miracle, but we can’t expect to keep winning consistently unless we get better starting pitching.

Update: the Herald’s John Tomase agonizes over this after another lousy start by Lester.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »