Leading into the season, the Red Sox were 12/1 to win the World Series. Now they are at 33/1, and that seems like a horrible price without an ounce of value. Really, that sums up the whole season for the Red Sox. Despite a very rough season last year, they came into this season riding high expectations. They had thrown around a lot of money, made some big changes, and everyone expected them to again be dominant - or at least atop their division. Instead, they are just 28-39 and sit nine games back in a division that isn't exactly redefining high-potency baseball.
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Let's just say it - the Red Sox suck. That won't break the heart of most people, but why it has happened is something worth looking closely at for bettors. There are, above all else, two main factors that stand out to explain the issues the team is having. Without serious changes on one or both fronts, this team isn't going to get any better in any hurry:
Pitching: Back in March I expressed my extreme pessimism about this team at that 12/1 price. The biggest reason was the rotation. I wrote: They overhauled their rotation, but they are still relying on Clay Buchholz to remember how to pitch again, and for guys like Wade Miley and Rick Porcello to be studs. None of that seemed like a good idea at the time, and it hasn't proven to work out very well at all.
Bucholz leads the starters in ERA, but when that mark is 4.22 it's hardly something to be proud of. He has been, at best, average, and that has manifested itself in a 3-6 record in 13 starts. He hasn't been a disaster, but he certainly hasn't been an ace. As for Porcello and Miley - well, they haven't been studs. They give up far too many runs and just haven't been good enough to be viewed as the upgrade that they really needed to be for this team to succeed. Joe Kelly as the fourth starter is hard to watch, and no one wants to lay claim to the fifth spot in the rotation.
The team has given up 320 runs this year - 4.8 per game. Only the Rockies have given up more, and they have no pitcher and play in a stadium that bunts can fly out of. Boston has given up 134 more runs than the Cardinals. That shouldn't be possible - certainly not for a team that was supposed to be a contender. Barring a major overhaul, this rotation is just not going to be good enough to get this team on track, and I'm not convinced at all that they could do enough during the season to even make it respectable.
John Farrell: I'm not one to blame one guy, especially not a manager in baseball, for the failures of a team. The simple fact that has become evident over the years, though, is that Farrell is too soft on his players. He can obviously manage - he won the World Series in his first year with the Red Sox. Both in Toronto and in his last two years in Boston, though, he has had trouble getting the most out of his players. It seems too often that the inmates are running the asylum. Watching his teams at time can, at times, look like watching David Blatt 'coach' the Cleveland Cavaliers while LeBron James calls all the shots. Farrell lets too many players get away with too much, and that doesn't work when those players don't have the self-discipline, vision, or chemistry to run the show themselves.
Lately we have seen Farrell arguing openly with players and other players have blatantly disregarded him. It's not sustainable, and it certainly isn't the sign of a team that is moving in the right direction. Farrell needs either to get back in control or he has to go if this team is going to right this ship.
The biggest example of the issues has come as the team has struggled and players have faced the media after losses. Veteran players are nowhere to be found. They throw the rookies and youngsters to the wolves and hide behind their privileged position. That lack of accountability and team chemistry is just ridiculous and is everything that is ultimately wrong with this team. Farrell is the only guy who could immediately do something about it, and he could make the silly practice end in an instant. Instead of delivering a message to his players, though, he makes excuses for them to justify their poor behavior. He's enabling their mediocrity, and the results are evident in the standings.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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