Happy Trails

The Red Sox unofficially said good-bye to their season this weekend, being swept in three games by Seattle, losing ground in both races in which they were nominally competing, and otherwise just plain sucking.

There’s been a lot of recriminations going around, some of which have been justified. But at this point, you just have to say it’s not meant to be. The following players have either missed significant time during the season or are currently injured/hurting:

  • Starting RF (Nixon)
  • Backup RF (Pena)
  • Starting CF (Crisp)
  • Starting LF (Ramirez)
  • Starting SS (Gonzalez)
  • Starting C (Varitek)
  • Backup C (Mirabelli)
  • No. 3 SP (Wakefield)
  • No. 4 SP (Wells)
  • No. 5 SP (Clement)
  • Backup SP (Lester)
  • Long RP/Backup SP (DiNardo)
  • Setup RP (Timlin)

I mean, come on. No team can win with that kind of injury problem. When you base your team on pitching and defense, then lose three-fifths of your starting rotation, it’s gonna be tough. Then when you lose one-third of your starting lineup, forget about it. Curt Schilling and David Ortiz are just about the only players not to miss time this season because of injury — and they both have gone to the hospital.

So, 2006 Red Sox, it was fun. You’ll still be playing games, and I’ll still be watching, but it just won’t be the same as it was earlier this year. Except for Ortiz’s home run chase, Schilling’s 3,000th strikeout, and the development of The Kids, there’s little left about which to be hopeful. It’s sad, but it’s true. It’s not about blame anymore. It’s about reality. This team might have been good enough to win, but alas, too many underperformances and too many injuries have finished off this season.

Wait ’til next year.

23 comments… add one
  • We should also remember that Manny has played almost all of the games this season (what has he missed including this past week…8 games?). Also, Varitek sucked it up most of the year and then got injured. The pitching staff has been pretty weak all year and I doubt that the “intangible” that Tek brings to the pitching staff mattered at all in this case.
    Matt Clement played over his head the first half of last year. David Wells hasn’t played without injury in a very long time. Curt Schilling has still been more consistent than Randy Johnson.
    You’ve also forgot to mention that Timlin post injury has been terrible and Tavarez was a bust.
    I don’t think it’s strictly the injury bug. My guess is that the team isn’t constructed well enough.

    walein August 28, 2006, 12:38 am
  • According to the “smart” Cool Standings figures, it’s just a matter of time now for the Red Sox:
    Chance for Red Sox to win division: 2.4%
    Chance for Red Sox to win wild card: 1.3%
    Chance for Red Sox to make playoffs: 3.7%
    You know things are bad for your team when your best shot at getting into the playffs is winning your division, and you’re 6.5 games back from the division leader.
    The Yanks:
    Chance for the Yankees to win division: 97.3%
    Chance for the Yankees to make playoffs: 97.5%
    Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there’s a 0.2% chance the Yanks will make the playoffs as a wild card.
    It’ll take a collapse of epic proportions to blow this one.

    Jonah Falcon August 28, 2006, 2:35 am
  • Were I a Red Sox fan, I might be curious as to the odds of a Red Sox comeback when down 3-0 in the ALCS… they probably weren’t very good, were they?
    I don’t think the Yanks will collapse this year, but given the way they’ve played of late, and thee general quality of their starting pitching, I fear another ALDS knockout. Moose is the only starter I trust in any situation (Wang’s a good pitcher too, but he has struggled on the road). Even if the Yanks do escape the first road, I would honestly be surprised if they make the WS.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) August 28, 2006, 10:15 am
  • I don’t know, Rob. I think anything can happen in the playoffs, as you yourself highlight in your post. The Twins would be fearesome because of Santana/Liriano double-punch, but the White Sox staff is as inconsistent as the Yankees, and would you really back the inexperienced Detroit or A’s teams against the Yanks in the ALCS?

    Sam August 28, 2006, 10:50 am
  • The way the Yanks have been playing lately, it won’t matter who they play in the first round because that’s the only round they’ll see. That might change, but the Yankees are winning this division because the Red Sox cannot.
    It’s not just injuries, of course — Clement, Seanez, Tavarez, Beckett have all been disappointments. But when you’re looking at the last month, when the Sox have been exceptionally horrible, it’s just been injury after injury after injury. Clearly, this Sox team wasn’t the best constructed, but it was constructed well enough to compete with the equally poorly constructed Yankees. The injury situation has clearly pushed this club over the edge.
    Hey, there’s always a chance. But it’s much easier to be at the brink of defeat and win four straight games than todo something similar over 30 games.

    Paul SF August 28, 2006, 11:29 am
  • I love how for the first half the season Yankee fans got b#tched at for blaming their poor play on injuries, now its all the SF’s can talk about.

    Eric August 28, 2006, 12:03 pm
  • “Clearly, this Sox team wasn’t the best constructed, but it was constructed well enough to compete with the equally poorly constructed Yankees.”
    Ha! The Yanks are not equally poorly constructed. They’re a better team regardless of injury. Better hitters, better starting pitching, better relievers. About the only thing the Sox have an advantage in is infield defense. But the Yanks were a better team pre-injury.

    Nick-YF August 28, 2006, 12:06 pm
  • And also, when it comes to recovering from deficits, I think everyone can agree that the 2004 Sox were somewhat better than the 2006 version. This unit will be lucky to go .500 the rest of the way.

    Sam August 28, 2006, 12:15 pm
  • I’m not blaming the Sox’ poor play on injuries, Eric. The sweep that effectively ended the season two weekends ago was not because of injuries. It was because of horrendous pitching. And the Sox have been playing poorly since before the All-Star Break, and many of these injuries have taken place in the last two weeks.
    I was just marveling at all the hurting/injured players the Sox now have. It is unlikely they can win this year with so many injured players, and the Sox’ injured list is now much longer than the Yanks’ — and that has put them at a significant disadvantage going forward.
    And if you can come up with a list of injured Yankees as long as that, feel free. I doubt you can.

    Paul SF August 28, 2006, 12:22 pm
  • The Yankees injuries have basically been Matsui, Sheffield and Cano (unless you count Pavano, heh). There have been others, such as Moose, but those three are the biggies.
    Up against that the Sox have lost significant time from Coco, Nixon, Varitek and Wakefield (the one often overlooked, but perhaps the most hurtful). Manny is out right now, but as has been pointed out repeatedly, he’s been in most of the games.
    At this point, it’s pretty pointless to argue over who has had it worst. Both teams have taken big-time injury hits.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) August 28, 2006, 12:41 pm
  • Sam,
    I know anything can happen, and I hope the Yanks get hot at the right time and win it all. I’m just saying I’m not confident. The last time I was confident going into the playoffs was 2002 (doh, friggin Angels).

    Rob (Middletown, CT) August 28, 2006, 12:43 pm
  • Hrm… I forgot Clement in my list of “significant time lost to injury” on the Sox. Not that he was very good before he went down, but he was a rotation regular.
    Wells… dunno if he qualifies, as I don’t think Sox management actually counted on him this year. Hasn’t he been more of a bonus?
    The other injuries don’t meet my threshold for “significant.”

    Rob (Middletown, CT) August 28, 2006, 12:53 pm
  • Rob, don’t forget that the Yanks lost Sturze for the whole season, plus Cano was out a significant amount of time, and Damon had his trips to the bench because of his broken foot.
    But yes, it’s a silly game to play. I think, for what it’s worth probably the hardest injury to overcome for either team has been Wakefield.

    Sam August 28, 2006, 1:50 pm
  • I was leaving out injuries that I didn’t think were significant, either b/c the player wasn’t out all that long or b/c the player wasn’t all that important (Sturtze, for example. DiNardo… Mirabelli). Damon falls into that category too. Yes, he had an injury, but he has (to his credit) been able to play through it for the most part and have a great year.
    I agree about Wakefield. Losing him caused a cascade effect, because they had to replace a lot of quality innings.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) August 28, 2006, 1:59 pm
  • Heh, I just realized that none of us remembered Foulke. Wasn’t he, theoretically, the closer at the beginning of the year? He was replaced quickly and ever-so-capably, which may be the reason none of us thought of him. He qualifies as a significant loss, I think.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) August 28, 2006, 2:04 pm
  • I think the major difference between the injuries that the Yankees and the Sox have had to overcome this season lies in the actual quality of those players injured.
    There is no question that Matsui and Sheffield would have produced close to the numbers that they always produce.
    What is in question is what the Sox actually “lost.”
    Foulke hasn’t been good in 2 years.
    Varitek was terrible this year.
    Clement had a career first half last year and then turned back into the mediocre pither that he’s always been.
    Crisp hasn’t been that good.
    Wakefield was a loss of importance but since the last few years has seen Wakefield fall off in the second half of the season I think it’s safe to say the Yankees woul have bombed him out as well in the five game series.

    walein August 28, 2006, 2:15 pm
  • It’s hard for me to accept that Wakefield is a worse loss to the Sox than Sheff was to the Yanks. The Yanks were willing and able to eventually replace his bat with Abreu’s, but during that the time they didn’t have either, they were putting out players like Bernie, Guiel and Bubba. That’s a big drop-off, and remember, the Yanks are a team designed around its offense. The drop-off probably meant 2-3 games in the standings if we’re assuming Sheff would have put up the #s he put up during his great 2 years with the Yanks.

    Nick-YF August 28, 2006, 2:16 pm
  • “The way the Yanks have been playing lately, it won’t matter who they play in the first round because that’s the only round they’ll see. That might change, but the Yankees are winning this division because the Red Sox cannot.”
    What do you mean by “lately”? If it’s the past week, then ‘duh’. The team historically struggles on this road trip and this time around it’s to be expected, given that it’s post Red Sox. There should be no surprises at the current slump nor should this bump carry over much further beyond the upcoming homestand. If “lately” means post All-Star break, then I’d have to take issue with that. Over the second half of the season the Yankees have shown that they can put the pitching together to win back to back series.
    Please don’t act like the Sox gave the Yankees the divisional title. You can’t give away what you’ve never had (at least for the past 9 consecutive seasons). It’s clear that the Sox were playing over their heads through much of 2006. They’ve been playing mediocre baseball for long enough to be characterized as a mediocre team with minimal depth and a next-to-nil shot at the post season. The division was never theirs to begin with.
    And neither side should be quibbling over injuries. They are apart of every sport under the sun and always will be. One team had the farm system/depth to overcome them, the other did not.

    lp August 28, 2006, 2:19 pm
  • Nick,
    I don’t think anyone is arguing that Wakefield’s loss is bigger than Sheff. The Yankees have suffered 2 huge injuries (season-ending or close to it, suffered early in the year), one fairly significant one (Cano’s hammy), and a number of fairly minor ones. The Sox have suffered a lot more medium-impact injuries, and I think one can certainly argue that the overall injury picture is roughly even or even that the Sox have had it slightly worse.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) August 28, 2006, 2:32 pm
  • Injuries suck, but they are part of the game and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor play. However, a roster can only be stretched so far before it cracks.
    The truth is that as of now, the Red Sox have only TWO starting pitchers that have made every one of their starts so far. That’s it. A successful team begins and ends with a healthy rotation–one of the reasons why the 2004 team was so good was because none of the starters missed any time. Even though Derek Lowe got lit up regularly, the fact was he was still out there every five days pitching his innings. The impact of that cannot be ignored.
    This year, we started the season with Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield and Clement, with DiNardo temporarily filling in for Wells. Then DiNardo got hurt, so we called up Pauly, then Lester. Then Clement got hurt, so we ran Snyder out there. Then Wakefield got hurt, so we called on Gabbard. Then Wells came back. But now Lester’s hurt. We’ve been switching different parts in and out of the 3-4-5 spots in the rotation all season, and it’s had a domino effect on the entire pitching staff; the thin rotation put an added burden on the bullpen, which exposed the weak middle relief. And so on and so on. Losing regular position players is rough on a team, but in the end, those parts are much easier to replace than starting pitchers.
    The ironic thing is that going into this season, the starters most people were concerned about healthwise were Schilling and Beckett. And now those guys are the only two that have been here all year.

    mouse August 28, 2006, 3:23 pm
  • walein, you can’t say “Wakefield was a bad loss, but he probably would have slumped so it doesn’t count.” In that case, all the Yankee losses mean nothing because I think they all would have slumped by now anyway…
    The Yankees’ Big Two were the worst injuries, but the Yankees struggled through and replaced them at the deadline. The Red Sox have no injuries that individually measure up to those, but losing Tek’s game-calling, Wakefield’s and Wells’ innings, the flexibility provided by DiNardo and Foulke (assuming he was good) have had a cumulative effect much greater than taking away two of the nine spots in the Yanks’ vaunted lineup.
    And to answer a question above, Wells was expected to contribute — he was pitching an excellent return game when he got clocked by that line drive in April/May, so that was indeed a big loss to the rotation.
    Anyway, the whole point of this post wasn’t to compare injuries. The point was that the injuries the Red Sox currently have — combined with their self-imposed position in the standings — pretty much conclude the 2006 season.
    Looking at how the Yanks played in that five-game series, and the two weeks since, lead me to believe that their flaws — at least on the pitching side — are just as great as the Sox’, which is why I don’t see them getting past anyone except Detroit in the first round, and that’s assuming the Tigers even make it…

    Paul SF August 28, 2006, 3:33 pm
  • Paul, I’m not following how a team that swept another team in a five game series can have flaws that are as great as the team they swept. Considering how many runs the Sox gave up during the series compared to what the Yanks gave up, the SOx pitching is much worse off. Explain that one to me again. The Yanks have flaws-no doubt. But as of this moment, even taking into the fact that they had a letdown since the Sox game (struggling as per usual against the Angels and the M’s in Seattle), they are a much stronger club than the Sox. Their offense is elite, the pitching until this point is still in the top 5 in the AL. It’s markely better than the Sox’s injury-laden staff.

    Nick-YF August 28, 2006, 3:48 pm
  • The odds of that 2004 comeback are even greater then one could figure since the Sox were down to there last 3 outs when they tied the game in the 9th.

    TJ August 28, 2006, 6:15 pm

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