Red Sox CentralShop for Red Sox Gear
Buy Red Sox Tickets
BOSTON (CBS) — How many times do you hear it? Johnny could get such better grades if he’d only apply himself. It’s not that he’s a dumb kid, he just isn’t getting the good grades that he should be getting.
That right there is the story for the 2012 Boston Red Sox, a team with an astronomical payroll that sits in last place.
Of course, the payroll factor is mitigated by the bevy of injuries keeping a number of starters off the field, but championship teams endure similar setbacks but persevere. The Red Sox have not done that. Not even close.
They’re 43-43, tied with the Blue Jays, A’s and Tigers for the fourth-worst record in the American League.
In a city like Boston, that’s just not going to fly. And the midseason grades certainly reflect that.
Bobby Valentine’s done a lot of things wrong in front of a microphone, but in the dugout, he’s been about as good as he could be, given his circumstances. He’s craftily managed the bullpen, and he hasn’t feared shaking up the lineup. He may not be the best manager in the universe, but he’s not the reason the Sox are tied for last place.
Position: Starting pitching
Josh Beckett has been pretty good, despite a couple of hiccups, and Felix Doubront was a breath of fresh air for the first two months. The good news pretty much ends there. As a staff, the Sox’ starters have a 4.81 ERA, third-worst in the AL and fourth-worst in all of baseball.
Most of the stats are pretty ugly, like the .268 opponents’ batting average (24th in MLB), 505.1 IP (19th in MLB), 66 home runs allowed (sixth-most in AL) and so on and so forth. What it comes down to is that the Sox starters are simply not getting it done, and if they don’t completely turn things around, this team has absolutely no shot to even think about October.
Position: Relief pitching
The bullpen lost its closer just days before the season opened, and it lost its outstanding set-up man to the starting rotation. And yet, it’s been one of the bright spots of the otherwise dreadful season.
The bullpen’s ERA is 3.13, which is the third-best mark in the American League. That’s despite being asked to pitch 270.1 innings, which is fifth-most in the AL. The .235 batting average against is solid, and the relievers have issued just 81 walks, second-fewest in the AL.
Sure, Alfredo Aceves has four blown saves, but on the whole, he’s been a more-than-serviceable fill-in on the back end. And the incredible seasons of Vicente Padilla and Scott Atchison have been impressive.
This grade would have been much higher if not for the late slump from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who went just 2-for-25 to end the first half. Still, the 27-year-old has finally looked the part of the young catcher with loads of potential, as he’s already hit a career-high 17 homers, driven in 41 runs and posted a .235 batting average. For him, perhaps a little rest during the All-Star break could help him recharge for the second half and turn that average around.
Kelly Shoppach’s been a decent backup, hitting .269 with four homers in 93 at-bats. But he loses points for complaining to Bobby Valentine about playing time.
There is one bright spot and one bright spot only: Will Middlebrooks. But even that story has a dark side, as he’s fought through two hamstring setbacks that have forced him out of the lineup. Still, he’s launched 10 homers and hit .298, inspiring most fans to welcome with open arms the youth movement.
Other than that, it’s been anywhere from pretty bad to horrifically atrocious. Mike Aviles has been average, batting .260 and hitting anywhere from first to ninth in the lineup. Dustin Pedroia’s not played to his standards and suffered two thumb injuries. And Adrian Gonzalez’s first half was a flat-out disaster. We don’t need to go through the list of the dozens of players ranking higher than him in almost all offensive categories to stress that point.
Marlon Byrd. Scott Podsednik. Daniel Nava. Ryan Sweeney. Darnell McDonald. Cody Ross. Ryan Kalish. Lars Anderson. Che-Hsuan Lin. Jason Repko. The list goes on.
That’s a lot of people. Collectively, the outfielders have hit .263 with 21 home runs. There are seven individuals who have hit more than 21 home runs. That’s not very good. And Cody Ross accounts for 13 of them!
There’s hope for some improvement, with Jacoby Ellsbury returning immediately after the break, but Carl Crawford is injured again and will need elbow surgery. There just always seems to be bad news with the Sox outfield this year.
Position: Designated Hitter
David Ortiz has done his job. He’s said some silly things (Is Boston really a craphole? Really?), but he’s getting it done at the plate, plain and simple.