Friday, October 7, 2011
A Detroit vs.Texas A.L.C.S. SHOULD Make Boston Feel Sick.
2 Years ago The Red Sox whole team was devastated by injuries, the field was packed with backups and no names, but while all that was going on Adrian Beltre stood alone. Beltre and Boston missed the playoffs but individually he would finish Top 10 in MVP Voting, be selected as an All-Star, and win the Silver Slugger Award as the best hitting 3rd Baseman.
In the off-season Theo Epstein acquired MVP Caliber 1st Baseman Adrian Gonzalez. With former All-Star Kevin Youkilis capable of playing both corners, it seemed like it was time for Boston to cut ties with Adrian Beltre. The supporters were claiming that Beltre was just playing for a contract, that he couldn't repeat his high caliber performance over an entire contract. Kevin Youkilis on the other hand was Boston's dirt dog 1B/3B/Superhero, he could do no wrong, Youk would never struggle over at third... it was a no-brainer.
Then there's Victor Martinez. After being traded to Boston for Justin Masterson in '09, Victor was what he always was: A Double Machine. V-Mart looked to be the answer for Jason Varitek's inability to hit. Victor could catch, play first, or DH in spots. Martinez finished the 2010 Season hitting .302 with 20 HR's, 32 doubles, and 79 RBI's, all were Top 5 on the team.
Like Beltre, Victor Martinez was on his way out of town last off-season. The only problem with this is who pushed him out. Boston elected for Youkilis and Gonzalez over Beltre. Fine, but they elected for Saltalamacchia and Varitek over V-Mart. They can say that Martinez doesn't project to be a full time Catcher, but neither does Varitek.
Let's now flash forward a year. The 2011 Red Sox have missed the Playoffs, The Yankees and Rays have been eliminated, and former Red Sox Victor Martinez & Adrian Beltre are playing each other in the A.L.C.S. for the right to play in the World Series.
Obviously hindsight is 20-20, but The Red Sox should have kept at least one, maybe both, of these guys. Supporters will tell you that Boston's pitching is what killed their season, but look a little closer to see the truth. While The Red Sox lineup scored a ton of runs all season they were FAR from consistent. They may have scored over 5 runs a game but they didn't come close to actually putting up around 5 a game. One night they'd score 12, the next night they'd score 2... you can't win games like that. You especially can't win if you lost by 2 when you score and when you don't.
The top part of the 2011 lineup was dominant. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez will all get MVP votes... but the bottom half was a problem. JD Drew was hurt for half of the year and invisible the other. Carl Crawford struggled but was the 7th hitter when it was going right. Saltalamacchia provided power but provided even more strikeouts. Jed Lowrie is constantly recovering from injuries no one can remember. When The Red Sox won in 2007, 8 of the 9 primary starters had OBP's over .300. The bottom half of the lineup could set the table for top half, they'd extend innings, run up pitch counts. On the 2011 version only 6 out of the nine. An offense needs consistency to win.
Next season Boston will come into the year with players who have the "right attitude". The funny thing is that the perfect players needed to get over this historic collapse, could be the same players they let walk a year earlier. Kevin Youkilis isn't the 3rd Baseman everyone thought he'd be. Jason Varitek is most likely gone, meaning some no name catcher will be backing up for Jared Saltalamacchia... ironic isn't it?