Monday, June 18, 2012

Sox Unhappy, According to Olney. Shockah!

According to Buster Olney of, the Red Sox clubhouse is an unhappy place. Can we hazard a guess why?

First, baseball players work off the 'individual achievement' approach, if you recall Al Capone in "The Untouchables". They get paid via individual performance, not collective performance. You must not only perform well, but often and well to put up numbers. Who could possibly count the players who MIGHT be unhappy?

Also, no matter how you slice it, the Sox are a last place team in the Division. Last. Bottom. Fifth. The fans get soaked, the players and owners get rich, and we have to listen to excuses.

C - Shoppach. Has done well enough in limited appearances and surely wants more time. Saltalamacchia has beaten him out, after starting in the pole position.

1B - Adrian Gonzalez can't be HAPPY about playing right, and it must be affecting his hitting. See YOUKILIS.

2B - Dustin Pedroia is playing hurt and may not be as comfortable with Bobby Valentine as Best Pal Terry Francona. Maybe Francona would be around if everybody else played as hard as Pedroia.

SS - Does Mike Aviles feel unloved? Hard to know, but as his OPS slowly sinks into the west, you see why he's a backup.

3B - A real problem area. Youkilis, the incumbent, has failed to produce because of age, injury, a combination, bad luck, pressure over trade rumors, contract year, sunspots or whatever. Youkilis is long rumored to be a crankapotamus, and oh, yeah, his replacement has outplayed him.

3Ba. Can Middlebrooks be happy as the part-timer, understanding that Youk is showcased to be moved? Doubtful.

LF - Daniel Nava should be turning handstands, if his hand allowed.

CF - Ellsbury is hurt. Can you be unhappy and hurt? Sweeney is hurt now. Ditto. Last time I checked he didn't remind me of Tony Oliva. Cody Ross is hurt. Maybe he needs to be back to give some attitude adjustment.

RF - How unhappy can Darnell McDonald be? See Tony Oliva.

DH - Big Papi, putting up big numbers, as in Top 5 MVP vote numbers. Contract anxiety, already?

Nowhere land. John Lackey, now there's a positive influence, by report.

Josh Beckett - also hurt. Another guy in the Prima Donna Band.

Jon Lester - according to Peter Gammons, in the past, Lester had a passion for greatness. Maybe he's just frustrated at HIS inconsistency.

Clay Buchholz - has pitched his best recently.

Daniel Bard - who cares what guys at Pawtucket think? Bard pitched inconsistently and a performance worth of Steve Blass sent him to the minors. My sources say Bard is a good guy. Okay, act like it.

Daisuke Matsuzaka - how many guys can he even talk to?

Bullpen - after a shaky start, they've done the job for the most part. Doubtful the biggest problem.

Maybe a few rotten apples spoil the barrel. Psych consult? Group therapy? How about some tough love from the ownership? With guys fighting in Afghanistan, with the economy still struggling, with fifty million people without health insurance, maybe guys should be thankful for what they have. If the guys with the biggest contracts want out, are THEY going to eat the money?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Trading not Trending Commodity

Is the glass half full or half empty? After a dysfunctional start and injuries to key players, should fans be relieved or disenchanted with a last place team?

Guys like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Will Middlebrooks, and Daniel Nava have overachieved. But with OPS .612 (Marlon Byrd) and .732 (Ryan Sweeney, no homers) the outfield looks more like Amateur Hour than Dancing with the Stars.

The Sox erstwhile ace, Jon Lester hasn't found a groove and seems moody and disaffected. Conversely, Josh Beckett has stepped it up with an ERA less than 2.25 during his last five starts.

Yes, there are sources of irritation. The Bobby Valentine circus sideshow has died down, probably more because of his bullpen management than anything else. And the cheerleading from NESN and the 100 Years of Fenway mantra doesn't compensate for the on-field mediocrity.

The Sox collective defense may not be making so many 'errors', but it feels like a steady stream of defensive miscues constantly stresses the pitching staff and the lying eyes.

Like the economy, the Red Sox seem to be muddling along, decelerating just when they need to dial it up. The Daniel Bard experiment has flown like a lead balloon. Bard's demotion to Pawtucket feels more like relief than surprise.

The hope for reinforcements in the form of Ellsbury, Crawford, Bailey, and Matsuzaka gives Sox critics (like me) pause. But for an ownership built on the commodity trade, the Sox are basing not trending up, and they're a hold not a buy right now.