You hear a lot of talk about Tampa making the playoffs as though it were some incredible statistical aberration. The substantial part of the problem follows the in-house development of the Rays' rotation, compared to the outhouse performance of the Red Sox rotation. The Sox allowed 123 more runs than the Rays this year. We used to hear about run prevention, now the Sox lead the league in 'spin'.
The Rays can run out David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and Matt Moore.
The Red Sox "Big Three" of Josh Beckett, John Lester, and Clay Buchholz either struggled or were MIA down the stretch, although Lester's final game quality start shouldn't be dismissed. Running a lackluster Lackey, an aged Wakefield, and unproven Weiland out there proved to be a mound of trouble. If being a great guy were qualifications, then we should see if the Dali Lama were available for the Sox rotation.
Nobody's saying Felix Doubront, Anthony Ranaudo, Weiland, or Alex Wilson are ready to step in at a level approaching the Tampa staff. That's the crux of the problem, the Sox are losing the arms race.
If you want to get somewhere, then you better have a plan on how to get there. Currently, the Sox have talent, but suffer organizational disarray and dysfunction. The Red Sox way? What is that? The Sox need to articulate a new plan, a new code, something beyond 'throw money at it'. Their charitable endeavors and media empire be praised, Sox fans want to see a better product on the field.
It's hard to stand tall, if there's nothing you stand for.
Maybe the Dali Lama put it simply, “Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.”