Weak Sox?

YFSF is one of several participants in a weekly roundtable survey at Firebrand of the American League, one of the better Sox blogs out there.

This week’s question — "What is the Red Sox’ biggest weakness — produced no unanimity, which I think speaks to the most vexing part about this team. The numbers are there, the wins are largely there, but I don’t think anyone has the confidence in this club that we had last year heading into October.

Here is a summary of the answers to that question:

  • Inability to put the game away.
  • Mike Lowell’s health
  • Injuries and fatigue
  • Inconsistency on the road/bullpen
  • Bullpen

Well, it’s gotta be one of those, right? What say you, SFs?

14 comments… add one
  • we’ll see how it plays out in Toronto, but I think the road woes are really behind them. They need a healthy Drew and Lowell – that’s the two biggest things. I think Delcarmen is showing he can pitch,Masterson is OK, Papelbon hasn’t been used in what 5 days? I don’t think it’s fatigue.

    dw (sf) September 19, 2008, 9:52 am
  • I think the 2nd answer (Mike Lowell’s health) is a bit too simplistic, but that health in general is the big problem. Lowell can be replaced by Casey/Bailey, which is a pretty good combination.
    The real problem is JD Drew. Coco is hitting like a madman right now, which makes up for it somewhat, but having Ellsbury/Kotsay replace Drew is painful. Jason Bay will be back tonight thankfully, but with Youk slumping this September (.241 batting average) we’re left hurting for power. If Drew can come back 100% in October (or sooner) then we’ll be pretty damn impressive.
    Papelbon has looked pretty tired in his last few games too. Maybe he’s having migraines again? He’s cited that as a cause of problems in the past, whether it’s a legitimate excuse or not. In any case he has an ERA of 12.00 in his last three starts, and only had one strikeout over those 3 innings. If we’re still 2 games back after this Toronto series I say shut him down for the final week of the season.

    Atheose September 19, 2008, 10:00 am
  • I should have dug a bit deeper: even though Youk is only batting .241, his OBP is .380 and he’s slugging .481.

    Atheose September 19, 2008, 10:03 am
  • I think you’re right, Ath, that if we’re talking injury/fatigue, J.D. Drew’s problems are much more severe than Mike Lowell’s. For one thing, a healthy Drew is more valuable than a healthy Lowell; for another, the Sox survived — excelled, even — essentially since the All-Star Break with Lowell injured or ineffective, partly because Drew has been so good.
    The offense just doesn’t concern me too much. Last year, Youkilis looked done right up until the last week of the season, then he unloaded straight through the World Series. We see this happen all the time with a group as talented and cohesive as the Red Sox. When Ortiz went down, Drew got hot; when Drew went down, Coco got hot. That many talented bats, you’re going to have few issues long-term.
    I think the answer boils down to bullpen inconsistency. Maybe they’re beyond that now, but it certainly contributed to its share of losses, especially on the road and especially recently against Tampa. It’s certainly the biggest concern going forward. I’m not convinced about Papelbon, I’m not convinced about Delcarmen. For that matter, I’m not convinced about Masterson. With the bases empty, I’m still pretty convinced about Okajima, but he can’t be brought in with runners on base. Sad to say, but Javier Lopez might be the one pitcher that I trust to best do his job going forward. That’s not a good situation to be in.

    Paul SF September 19, 2008, 10:30 am
  • Yeah, I think a lot of people look at the last few games against the Rays and begin to panic. In the last six games against them we’ve scored 3, 1, 13, 2, 4, and 3. We played the last three games without Drew AND Bay, which is pretty tough to do when you only have Ortiz and Youk slugging over .500.
    Part of me is SLIGHTLY annoyed that Bay’s wife chose this week to have their child, but this stuff happens. In any case, like you said Paul, our offense when healthy is pretty much unbeatable.
    If Papelbon gets some rest this week I feel confident about him, and I have no problem with Okajima (1.86 ERA in the last month). Delcarmen has been tremendous since the all-star break (2.29 ERA with 35 K’s over 35.1 IP). Lopez has been pretty damn consistent over the entire season as well. Masterson has a 2.25 ERA in the 28 innings he’s been a reliever, and has induced 9 double plays over that stretch! On top of that, he’s inherited 15 runners and only allowed 3 to score.

    Atheose September 19, 2008, 11:09 am
  • Another statistic of note about Masterson: he has only allowed one homerun as a reliever.

    Atheose September 19, 2008, 11:16 am
  • bullpen.
    With a good one, we’re nearly unbeatable. With the one we have, we have to be up to win. And up by a few.
    It’s to the point that I don’t even trust Pap in the AL East anymore.

    Brad September 19, 2008, 11:20 am
  • Somebody on SOSH noted that Papelbon has a save percentage below 60% in one-run games. Think about that one for a second. I certainly have no confidence when he’s in there against the Yankees, which I guess is just part of that rivalry. I don’t think Yankee fans have much confidence in Rivera against the Sox either.

    Paul SF September 19, 2008, 11:41 am
  • “What say you, SFs?”
    Great, we have nothing to watch and we are excluded from conversations to boot? Tough times.

    John - YF September 19, 2008, 11:42 am
  • The bullpen stats listed above lead me to focus on the injuries… with Lowell and Drew hurt/out the heart of the lineup has been struggling… Ortiz is still driving in runs, but the BA is still in the .260’s and Youk has come back to earth – not good when you are “protecting” Ortiz…
    Bottom Line: As much as we need Paps to get some rest, we need to get Lowell and Drew healthy – but I’m not sure either of them will be up to playing every day come October… Tito is going to have some tough decisions to make.

    Bottom Line Rob September 19, 2008, 11:44 am
  • The problem isn’t really Ortiz’s batting. He’s hitting .265, yes, but he’s reaching base more often than he did in 2003 or 2004. The slugging is really what’s been down, and he’s slugging .520 since his return, and .594 since early August. In fact, beginning Aug. 12 (the 19-17 game), Ortiz is hitting .292/.418/.600. That’s roughly equivalent to his 2005 season.
    The problem also isn’t really with Youkilis. As Ath notes, he’s been reaching base and slugging just fine. Since Sept. 1, he’s been struggling a bit, at .220/.327/.488. That’s still a 114 sOPS+ with a BABIP of .200. Youk’s getting majorly unlucky, and he’s still posting an OPS over .800.
    I just don’t have many problems with the offense; it’s even managed to hit some good pitchers, like Kazmir and Hallady (though, sadly, not Sonnanstine), and that had been a big problem all season long.

    Paul SF September 19, 2008, 12:27 pm
  • Great, we have nothing to watch and we are excluded from conversations to boot? Tough times.
    Aww, John, feel free to join in. It’s just been so long since we’ve seen a YF around these parts, I’d kinda forgotten you all existed! ;-)

    Paul SF September 19, 2008, 12:29 pm
  • here’s an oversimplification to beat all:
    “all of the above”….maybe you guys just aren’t as good [hot] as you need to be right now…let’s face it, it’s a game of streaks…with the injuries and long season, some of your guys just aren’t getting the job done the way they were earlier…

    dc September 19, 2008, 8:29 pm
  • or, you miss schilling more than you thought you would… :)

    dc September 19, 2008, 8:30 pm

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