Monday, July 9, 2012

Uncertainty The Watchword For Sox At Break

At The Break: Uncertainty Still Reigns
Before the start of the season, we had a pretty reserved view of this team's post-season chances—the watchword being "uncertainty". As we said back on March 26 while the lineup "should score a ton of runs" (which it has—second only to Texas), two glaring weaknesses gave us pause—the bullpen and the starting rotation. While the 'pen was scarily shaky in the first few weeks of the season, Bobby Valentine (to his credit) has figured out a way to turn them into one of the few positives of the first half. We were wrong on that score. But the starting pitching is arguably the main reason we are a .500 ballclub at the break. As we stated back then:

"...both Lester and Beckett should have big years. Should is the operative word, as injuries to either one would devastate our chances. Buchholz, if his non-treated back ailment doesn't flare again, should also be a key contributor." 

It hasn't so much been injuries as it's been ineffectiveness. Lester just can't command the two pitches he dominated with in the past (his two-seamer and his cut fastball) and Beckett is just inconsistent period (brilliant in some outings and a total mess in others). So, where do they go from here?

In order to have a shot at the phony one-game Wild Card, Boston needs to be aggressive in the trade market. They need a 2004-style personnel shake-up. No one except Pedroia, Oritz, Middlebrooks and Gonzalez should be off the table. If sources are to be believed, there is still severe tension between and among several players, the manager and the front office. Reportedly, David Ortiz walked out of a team meeting called by Bobby V. on the west coast trip. While reinforcements are coming back off the DL over the next few weeks—there is no reason to believe any of them will be hitting on all cylinders. So, the watchword in July is the same as it was in March—"uncertainty".