Big League Stew

Detention Lecture: Your 2011 Boston Red Sox

Big League Stew

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As the postseason soldiers on, the eliminated teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to detain their squads for the equivalent of a Saturday morning detention stay.

Up next in our series is our old pal Kris Liakos. He'd like to know what kind of beers Boston's pitcher were crushing in the clubhouse, but he can probably already guess.

Alright, 2011 Boston Red Sox. Have a seat over there. We can't dwell on this too long. We've got a couple of your other divisional cronies due in here pretty soon. You look surprised to be here, Golden Boys. Well not as surprised as I am, I'll tell you that. I had such high hopes for you going into this year. The way you fell apart at the end of the year ... just a month before graduating! You lost a nine-game lead quicker than any other team in history. It's just kind of a shock, kid.

You know, 2011 Boston Red Sox. I'm not even mad. I'm disappointed because your family had really turned a corner around here. Your older brothers, 2004 and 2007 were model students. Top of their class! Who'd have thought you'd have more in common with your uncles from '78 and '06. And the arrogance! You guys just strolled in here, started the season 2-10 and were working out of a hole right from the start. I bet you would have liked to have had one or two of those games back by the end of your stinkbomb September.

Or maybe you wouldn't have. Maybe you just didn't care at all and that's the worst part of all this. By the time you guys lost your 18th game of that month in Baltimore, you were a chore to watch. You had all the potential in the world and you have no one to blame but yourself. Especially you, John Lackey. {YSP:MORE}

Punishable Offenses: Your attendance sucked. For the second straight year there were a bunch of missed games by a bunch of key guys. Top of the list is Clay Buchholz. Stress fractures in your back do not sound fun, but the second guessing, phantom bullpen sessions and whispers about his actual readiness vs. perceived readiness soured the story beyond the injury. At a time when the Red Sox had all the starting depth of a petri dish a front line guy was shrouded in mystery.

Kevin Youkilis' season ended early after a sea of maladies that you have to wade through. One of the anchors in the lineup, dude has averaged only 119 GP over the last three years. Tack on season-ending injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka and J.D. Drew plus a parade of missed games at all positions during that dark final month and you have a team that was significantly hurt by injuries for the second consecutive season. But every team in baseball has injuries and things have gotten so bad in Boston that even the owner has openly questioned the team's conditioning methods.

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On the field and off, some of your bigger free agent signings haven't panned out. The aforementioned Lackey has become one of the most reviled members of a Boston sports franchise that I can remember. His numbers would make fans laugh if they weren't already sobbing. He isn't saved at all by his propensity for hideous scowling and yelling at his teammates. I hate to tell you I told you so, Theo. But I kind of did three years ago.
And Carl Crawford. We were all rooting for you, man. Despite any asinine and revisionist comments Brian Cashman might make to the contrary, every team in baseball would have signed you if they'd had the resources. But you just didn't really do much. One trip to the DL, a couple hot weeks here and there but a .694 OPS and a paltry 18 stolen bases (after averaging 50 for the prior 8 years) didn't justify the hype or the cheddar.

The rotation was never stable. Jon Lester, you threw a couple of stinkers down the stretch, Josh Beckett , you appeared to be losing parts on the field (I never even knew humans had mufflers until I saw yoursfall off going over a speedbump), and once Buchholz was gone you were relying on the likes of Tim "I AM SO SICK OF LOOKING AT YOU" Wakefield and the seemingly atrocious Kyle Weiland. Oh, you also experimented with Erik Bedard. Real big shocker how that turned out.

You were no doubt a team of flaws and serious structural issues that you somehow managed to keep from us for a good chunk of the summer. Maybe we were at fault for not seeing September coming. But I don't know, even with all these problems who could? Even your heretofore good defense failed. I need to move on before I start crying. You're supposed to be the ones in trouble.

Partners In Crime: Someone had to answer for this whole mess and it turned out to be Terry Francona. People seemed surprised that a guy who'd had that much success got bounced (whether it was mutual or not, he returns next year if you guys had pulled through) but it seemed pretty obvious from where I was sitting. After tanking that dramatically, shuffling around the hitting and pitching coaches wasn't going to suffice. There needed to be real changes. Problem is most of you are too old to move, have too large a contract to move, or are too old and have too large a contract to move. Tito was the only movable part. So they greased up his bald head and sent him shooting out the birth canal of Yawkey Way.

Was it the right decision? I'm of the mindset that managers get too much credit for winning and too much blame for losing. But there's no question that a bunch of the players in the Red Sox clubhouse pay no heed to their manager. Whether or not the next one can get them to change that is anyone's guess, but in the long run I gotta think that Francona himself becomes the real beneficiary of this change. Farewell dude, you're gonna make a lot more money than you would have eight years ago.

Something To Build On: Well, you did win 90 games and this is not a team going into a rebuilding year. Jon Lester is still your ace, Adrian Gonzalez looked great for huge chunks of the season, the catcher position looks to be in good shape after a couple years of post-sentient Jason Varitek doubt, Jacoby Ellsbury has turned into Carl Yastrzemski with legs, and despite one, um, pretty major exception Papelbon had a solid year at closer. Don't expect the forthcoming managerial hire to shake anything up. The Red Sox will hire a guy that listens to the front office and the front office is listening to stats. Do that, former bench coach for whoever, and you'll get a nice little pay check. Not bad work if you can get it.

Shape Up Or Ship OutSunny Listen, DON'T GO 7-19 FOR THE LAST THREE WEEKS OF NEXT SEASON AND YOU WON'T BE BACK HERE IN DETENTION. NOW GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE.

Principal Liakos
@K_Liakos

Read more of Big League Stew's Detention Lecture series here

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