Friday, August 26, 2016

Spoiled Rotten

Red Sox fans endured a drought of epic proportions from 1918 to 2004. Occasionally, the baseball gods would, like Lucy to Charlie Brown, pull the football at the last moment to assure maximal frustration. 

But Sox fans were rewarded with three titles in a decade before getting the twin killing of last place finishes of 2014 and 2015. Sox fans endured a pair of unwatchable, painful, pitiful seasons. 

But the Red Sox franchise, while not always champions, always champions marketing. They're never going to go the way of the Pale Hose. 

At least we don't suffer the indignity of a new stadium logo pointing south. And we don't have to go to Raytheon Stadium or Fidelity Field...not that I doubt for a moment that the Sox wouldn't consider it. 

But what really matters is the product on the field. I haven't heard it but maybe the organization has proclaimed that anything less than a playoff appearance creates a failure of biblical proportion. They certainly haven't scrimped on payroll or making moves including obtaining Abad, Hill, and Ziegler. Meatloaf isn't going to rewrite that as "1 out of 3 ain't bad." 

Sox fans may lament bad luck of injury, fatigue, or mean reversion. Every team experiences injuries...we don't want excuses. But another area in need of solution is the bullpen. John Farrell's reliever use won't be a positive case study at MIT's Sloan Analytic conference. Nobody can say anyone other than Father Time caught up with Koji Uehara. But Papa John running out Junichi Tazawa over 200 times in three seasons looks to have burned out the righthander.

Tazawa's WHIP ratio is up and his K/BB ratio has dropped. 

But the biggest arguments about the manager surround late game matchups. Fans wonder about the lack of roles (aside from closer Craig Kimbrel), the individual battles, and the underachievement in close games. 

But I can't fault Farrell for the slumps or fatigue of Bogaerts, Bradley, and Shaw. Whether Fenway can alleviate if not cure batting woes remain to be seen. The bigger question is whether this is a championship team? Telling a lie doesn't make it so. 

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