Monday, April 4, 2011

Best Team on Paper?

by Ric Glaub, International Editor of FenwayNation

April 4, 2011-Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Some weeks ago, FenwayNation’s peerless Editor-in-Chief suggested I write a pre-season column. I told him I’d think about it, and I actually did ­long and hard. I even started a couple of columns, but didn’t finish them. The problem was in my mind that virtually anything that could be written about the Sox had been written. This is clearly the most examined and analyzed pre-season Sox team in the nearly 30 years I’ve been a fan (yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m a newbie).

In my earlier efforts, the closest I came to anything I liked was a discussion of this whole topic of the “best team on paper.” Almost everyone was picking the Sox to be World Series contenders, talking about their depth in pitching, offense, defense, etc. All of that was fun to hear and read, of course, but it struck me that the “best team on paper” thing should apply to fantasy leagues, not the major leagues. At any rate, I didn’t finish that column either.

As this is written, the Sox are 0-3 to start the season, having been swept by the Rangers. Obviously, it is a bit early to panic. It’s only three games into the season, and the Rangers are a dangerous team. However, it appears there are smudges on the sheet of the “best team on paper.” So far, the front end of the rotation has given up 26 runs including 21 extra-base hits of which 11 were home runs. They were serving up dingers like free cotton candy at the circus. The offense hasn’t been all that hot either.

Whooda thunk we’d be three games behind the O’s at this point or for that matter any point in the season?

The Sox have long had a love affair for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, reasons for which the Rangers certainly didn’t see, having been figuratively willing to give him up for five Fenway Franks and a used Gatorade container. So far, he’s 0-for-2011 (granted he had a decent spring, so we'll keep the jury out), and there are questions about how his handling of pitchers contributed to the wellspring of Rangers offense this past weekend.

Oh, well, we’ll see.

Hopefully, a three game series at the Mistake On The Lake will help right the ship. But even if it does, next is a date with the Evil Empire.

As I wrote earlier, it’s too early to go into panic mode. However, I don’t think it’s too early to be concerned. When all three of the starting pitchers for the opening series, and one of the relievers, all say they didn’t feel like they pitched badly, one has to wonder. Come on, 21 extra-base hits, 11 home runs and 26 earned runs? That’s bad pitching. The fact is, they stunk up the joint. Of course, I think they believe they will do better. And I think they will. At the same time, they need to own up to their current poor performance. Making excuses can only make things worse.

I don’t sense a fire in this team’s belly and they need to get one. I wonder if they all spent the pre-season reading all those reviews which claimed they were the “best team on paper.” If so, they need to remember the games are played on the field, not on paper, and start to get some dirt on their uniforms.

The Sox are at the bottom of the AL East. It’s time for a wake up call.