Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Back in January, NESN.com declared that the 2011 Boston Red Sox “will challenge 1927 Yankees for title of greatest team in major league history.” But after blowing a 9-game lead to the Tampa Bay Rays in less than a month, the Red Sox will be happy if they can just make the playoffs.While the sky is falling in Beantown, Red Sox Nation wants answers and they want somebody to blame. Good thing for them, there is plenty to go around.
Let’s look at the biggest culprits…
Terry Francona — Managers in baseball often get too much credit when the team wins and too much blame when the teams doesn’t. But anytime a team with this much talent goes 7-20 and can’t win back-to-back games in a month, the manager is doing something wrong. Recently, Peter Gammons said there is an “increasing disconnect” between Francona and general manager Theo Epstein, which is never a good sign for a manager’s job security. But more importantly, there appears to be a disconnect between Francona and any sense of urgency.
Theo Epstein — When 45 out of 45 “experts” at ESPN.com predicted that the Red Sox would win their division, and 33 of those “experts” picked the Red Sox to win the World Series, it is hard to second-guess the roster Epstein put together prior to the season. But when it was clear the Red Sox needed help at the trade deadline, Epstein’s only major acquisition was Erik Bedard, a player that seemed like a terrible fit for the media swarm in Boston. Bedard hasn’t been awful (3.63 ERA with Red Sox), but he also has done little to stop the bleeding.
Carl Crawford — The Red Sox big off-season acquisition was supposed to provide the spark for the Red Sox offence this season. Instead, Francona got a hitter that has started 25 games batting eighth in the lineup, and only has 20 starts higher than sixth in the order. Crawford currently has career-lows this season in batting average (.255) and OBP (.290). And after averaging 50 stolen bases a season with the Rays, Crawford has 18 this year. Just think, only six years and $122 million left on a contract for a player that will be 30 next season.
David Ortiz — This is David Ortiz’ time of year. He is the Red Sox Mr. Clutch and Mr. October. So when Ortiz came out in the second week of September and says “hell, yeah, you’ve got to panic,” that is just the worst possible message that Big Papi could have sent to his teammates and fans. Then again, maybe the rest of the team didn’t panic enough.
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