Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hard Choices

As currently constituted, do the Red Sox have the horses to get to the World Series? Of course, an equally legitimate question remains, can the Sox hold off the Rays and get to the playoffs? Seriously.

Anyone watching the team recently understands the questions. In the outfield, Jacoby Ellsbury had a good series against lowly Baltimore after going one for the road trip. Jason Bay and J.D. Drew have struggled mightily; that's baseball.

In the infield, the hitting remains suspect, as while the Rangers may have swine flu, the Sox have the pine flew. Again, it can turn around...perhaps people have too many eyes over their shoulders with the trade deadline approaching, rather than on the ball.

Some (like Peter Gammons), say the clubs overvalue their prospects. Perhaps, but one can't easily dismiss the lure of low-salaried talent to most of the MLB 'have-nots'.

The Sox bullpen remains its biggest constant, the biggest change being the emergence of Daniel Bard as the Creature from the Bullpen Lagoon. His 100 mph heat and complementary breaking stuff have produced some "silly swings" in Eck parlance.

Meanwhile, we all know that John Smoltz is a first ballot HOF candidate with his resume of wins, saves, and guts. Unfortunately, we see John SmOLDtz getting lit up like a Christmas tree. Passion for success and flashes of the "young" Smoltz may not allow Theo Epstein the luxury of considering Smoltz a rotation fixture. Currently, it's Beckett and Lester at the top, Penny in the middle, Wakefield on the shelf, and Buchholz and Smoltz competing for the bottom of the rotation. In fact, recent outings make Justin Masterson look a lot better.

The playoffs are not a lock.

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