It's been one bad week on the field thanks to the Rays and Mariners. But while the Red Sox drop games and watch their offense tailspin on the field, the front office is at the very least providing for the future of the team. Oh, and injuries! Yay!
A Rare Series Loss
For the first time since falling to the Phillies in June, the Red Sox have dropped a series. That the loss came on the West Coast isn't much of a surprise--they've never played terribly well out there--but that it came to the Seattle Mariners? That's another story.
And how did they follow it up but with another loss? And an even more depressing one at that. Collecting just three hits in each game of the series, the Sox just finished dropping two-of-three to the Rays in about 24 hours' time.
Really this is just the most recent and apparent symptom of what has been a bit of a slump for the team. At 11-11 over their last 22 games, the Sox are cutting an unimpressive figure this August after an amazing start to July. The offense has been struggling to put up more than four runs a game, and the pitching hasn't always been able to bail them out.
The good news is that the playoff berth isn't realistically at risk. The bad news is that the division is up for grabs, and quite frankly, they'll have to turn it on sometime if they want to make it far in October. We're waiting, Sox.
Banged Up Lineup
The injuries are not so bad as they were last year, but sure enough, they're back. David Ortiz is out for about a week with Bursitis, Marco Scutaro hasn't been seen in a while, Adrian Gonzalez is apparently still dealing with a strained neck, and Kevin Youkilis is just a few days removed from a strained back.
But how much are the Sox really losing from this? Youkilis is back in the lineup, and Scutaro isn't realistically too much better than a combination of Lowrie and Aviles. David Ortiz is a pretty significant hit, but that ust leaves Adrian Gonzalez.
It's a nice thought that the troubling lack of homers for the Sox' big offseason acquisition could be explained away so easily, but that's something of a pipe dream. If there's something keeping Adrian down power-wise, it's his eyes. Gonzalez is, quite simply, swinging outside the zone. In fact, he's doing it a lot, hacking at more than a third of all outside pitches, up about 25% over his typical levels. There's nothing to blame here but Adrian himself.
Draft Picks Locked Up
Likely the best news of the week came on draft signing day, when the front office once again knuckled down, managing to sign all but one of their picks from the first ten rounds.
This included a number of obvious signs such as first round pick Matt Barnes and a number of the guys in the middle rounds, but also some players who weren't so certain. Blake Swihart is the crown jewel of that group-a high-school catcher with big offensive tools, Swihart commanded the highest bonus of all the team's picks at $2.5 million-but is joined by supplemental picks Henry Owens and Jackie Bradley Junior as impact talents that could well have forgone signing.
There is one man who slipped away: Senquez Golson, a four-star cornerback commit at Ole Miss, was able to come to some reasonable terms with the team as far as money was concerned, but could not bring himself to turn away from Ole Miss. With his likely seven-figure deal now off the table, the Sox turned right around and handed it off to another tough sign in Markus "Mookie" Betts, a speedy middle infielder with a solid bat.
Most of these players won't see action until 2012, so it's hard to really judge for sure, but at least for now it seems like another strong haul for Boston.
Bedard The Unlucky
Erik Bedard might have thought that things would be different in Boston. This offense can't let him down like Seattle's did time and again. And with this defense behind him, how could he lose?
Somehow, though, three starts into his Boston career and he has nine total runs of support. He's also taken the brunt of a number of defensive lapses, and had to deal with one hell of a small strike zone. So it is that he's 0-1 since joining the team despite turning in three starts that, when taken as more than a box score, look pretty impressive.
Of course, if you're part of the group that thinks the division doesn't particularly matter, than this is fine. Bedard will be ready for the playoffs, and so far he's shown that he can provide a meaningful contribution. On the other hand, losses suck, and we really have to hope the Boston media shows some understanding, lest they drive him crazy.