September 30, 2011

On Baseball: Yes, Sox fan, some clues were there

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Theo Epstein
click image to enlarge

Theo Epstein, the general manager of the Boston Red Sox, built a team that appeared to be one of the best in baseball. But looking closely, signs of the September collapse could be seen all along.

The Associated Press

• June 30: Mike Cameron was designated for assignment. In the second season of a two-year, $15.5 million contract, Cameron was batting .149.

• July 10: Kyle Weiland was called up to make a major league start. A closer in college and projected to be a major league reliever, Weiland was needed in the rotation, so he was rushed up. In seven appearances (five starts), Weiland went 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA.

• July 31: The Red Sox traded three mid-level prospects (Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife and Chih-Hsien Chiang) in a deal to land left-handed starter Erik Bedard. Because of ankle and oblique issues, Bedard made only eight starts, averaging fewer than five innings per, and recorded a 1-2 record and 4.03 ERA. Other pitchers were available near the trade deadline, including Bedard's teammate, Doug Fister, who was traded to Detroit. Fister went 8-1 (1.79) in 10 starts with the Tigers.

• Aug. 18: Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list with bursitis in his hip and a sports hernia. He came back briefly in September but wasn't the same (6 for 36). Boston missed Youkilis' grinding at-bats and clutch hitting (.301 with runners on base).

• Sept. 28: Left fielder Carl Crawford couldn't come up with a catch on a sinking fly ball as Baltimore recorded a walk-off RBI single that would lead to the end of Boston's postseason hopes. Crawford's fielding issues only accented a difficult first year with Boston. After batting .307 last year with Tampa Bay, with 19 home runs and 47 stolen bases, Crawford hit .255 with 11 homers and 18 stolen bases.

There are certainly other factors to consider. Set-up man Daniel Bard had a terrible finish (10.45 ERA in his last 10 appearances). Ace starters Josh Beckett and Jon Lester went a combined 1-5 in their last eight starts.

Yes, it would have been nice to have Beckett and Lester come through like they are expected to. And pitching was the biggest reason for Boston's collapse.

But once the cracks began to appear, Boston didn't have the depth to climb out.

What would have happened if Buchholz stayed healthy? If Doubront was ready to pitch from the first day? If more minor leaguers developed, or if even Justin Masterson was still with Boston?

But none of that happened. Boston fans learned the hard lesson that splashy free agent signings and gargantuan payrolls guarantee nothing but high expectations.

This looked like such a good team at the end of August. But then came adversity. The Red Sox couldn't handle it and now they're spectators as October nears.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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