Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Great Chance for the Sox to Win

There are 96 games left on the schedule. And if the Red Sox want to play more than 96 games, they need to win now.

Yes I know they they're enduring more than their share of injuries. They're missing an MVP candidate in the outfield, a starting pitcher who is capable of brilliance, a closer, more outfielders than there are outfield spots, and so on.

There's also been reports of strife and division within the clubhouse. There are coaches who weren't appointed by the manager, a manager who wasn't appointed by the GM, owners who use the media to manipulate popular opinion. There are trade rumors, there is fracturing between pitchers and hitters, between Francona supporters and those loyal to Bobby V.

And there are excuses. Umpires, the wind, the schedule.

The excuses and explanations must stop. This is a time for them to stop whining and start winning.

The Red Sox are starting a 16 game stretch against some of the weakest opposition in the Majors. Three against Miami (33-33 and 4th in the NL East), three against Atlanta (35-32, 3rd place), three against Toronto (34-32, 4th in AL East), four against Seattle (29-39, 4th in AL West), and three against Oakland (31-36, 3rd place).

They can and should win most of these games.

With Beckett out of the rotation, Lester and Buchholz need to pitch well every start. Buchholz has been doing that lately. Lester's been good but he needs to be great. The Sox need these two guys to be at their best.

Matsuzaka needs to continue what he did after the 2nd inning on Friday. And Doubront needs to be as solid as he's been.

Offensively, the stars of the lineup need to play like stars. I keep getting emails from the Red Sox urging their fans to vote for Pedroia to be in the All-Star Game. He's hitting .160 in June. The whole "relax" attitude he has shown is cute and funny, but he needs to hit. Now.

Youkilis also needs to hit. He's on a .128 clip this month.

And Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .232 in June. He only has 5 extra-base hits.

The stars on this team aren't playing like stars. The second-tier talent has carried them. And without those contributions from the second-tier talent, the Sox would be well below .500.

In the next 16 games, the Sox have an opportunity to do some damage. The injuries hurt, but what's killing them is their best players not playing like their best players.

After this stretch, the schedule gets tough. They face the Yankees, Rays, and White Sox. If they don't take advantage of the lesser opponents they have now, they might be out of the playoff race this time next month.

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