One of my favorite movie lines is from Fever Pitch. Young Ben Wrightman had just attended his first ever Red Sox game and was happily looking down at the foul ball he received. His Uncle Carl looks over and says, “Careful kid, they’ll break your heart.” As a long time Red Sox fan, I know this all too well as I have been through many ups and downs with this team.
The MLB trade deadline has come and gone and the Red Sox were not buyers but they were not sellers either. The lone move they made, was a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that added lefty reliever Craig Breslow to their bullpen.. This move means the Sox are all in for 2012. They finally have their full outfield back from injury, Dustin Pedroia looks healthy and so does pitcher Clay Buchholz. With David Ortiz and Andrew Bailey coming back within the month, the Red Sox have a good chance to secure the A.L. Wild spot.
The offense has been putting up big numbers this month so far. Being lead by Carl Crawford, Will Middlebrooks, Adrian Gonzalez and Cody Ross, it’s ultimately up to their pitchers to get the job done. Bottom of the rotation Felix Dubront and Aaron Cook have done a good job thus far but if the Red Sox are going to make it to the postseason they need to look to their aces, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
Beckett has been an enigma all season. He looks horrendous in the first inning or two but after that is lights out. On the other hand, Lester has looked pretty bad all season. He is statistically having the worst year of his career. Although recently, he has posted pretty good numbers but has been unable to get the run support that he needs to feel confident pitching successfully.
If the Red Sox do not make the playoffs again this year, changes will have to be made. They need to start looking to the future with the emergence of third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Top prospects Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias should also make the jump to the majors. The pitching rotation should also look different in 2013. They need to part with Josh Beckett and I think this offseason is the time to do it. The last order of business is manager Bobby Valentine.
Valentine had big shoes to fill after the departure of Terry Francona. In my opinion I don’t think that Valentine has done a bad job but he hasn’t done a great one either. He is a risk taker and he has proven this year that some of those risks did not work in certain situations. Fans of Boston or any sports city for that matter generally blame the coach or manager for a lost season. Will Valentine get the boot? My answer is no, not yet anyway. I think they should at least give him some of the season next year and if the Sox were in a similar situation then I’d fire him.
This last month and a half will be challenging for the Sox but if they can make a good run then I think they can do well in the playoffs. If not then it’ll be another long winter for this Boston fan.
Pierce Arrow Sports Editor
First order of business: fire McClure and get a real pitching coach!