Is This Red Sox Team Worth Investing In?

The Bruins season is done, and the draft is over. The Celtics season is done, and the draft is this Thursday. Free agency for both sports starts next week, but we don’t expect a lot of action from either squad on that front. The Patriots have finished their offseason work, and are off until training camp, sometime during the last week of July.

So that leaves the Red Sox. For better or worse, they are your main sports viewing option right now. (Well, unless you want to jump on board with the 7th place New England Revolution.)

How much can you invest into this Red Sox team? Principal owner John Henry seems to think that this is a team that can still win it all. That seems unlikely, but then again, a team doesn’t have to win it all to be worth following and investing emotionally in.

For many people, the Red Sox are a habit, a public institution, part of their routine, they watched the team all season every season before they won championships, and continue to do so.

For others, they want to have a connection with the team, or feel like it’s worth following, because they like the style of play, the charisma of the players, or the thrill of following a championship run.

Does this team offer those things for the latter type of fan?  Not yet. While they’ve played much better lately and have shown glimpses of being a resilient, likeable squad, they’re still frustrating to watch.

The thing that makes it tough with this team is that much of the frustration is caused by the players who should providing the enjoyment and production, while the role players are the ones carrying the team.

Going into the season, if you looked at this team, you’d say their best pitcher was Jon Lester, and their best positional player was Adrian Gonzalez. You looked at them as your best two players.

Each is one pace for the worst season of their major league careers. Through 15 starts, or almost half a season – Lester has averaged 32 starts a season since 2008 – he is 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA. Those are his basic numbers, but almost across the board, he’s headed for career-worsts.

Gonzalez was supposed to be the Manny Ramirez replacement in the heart of the order. Through 73 games, he’s hitting .263 which would be the lowest since he became a full-time player, with 6 homers and 39 RBI. At this pace he won’t even reach 20 home runs. His OBP, OPS and SLG also all project to career lows.

Both have been healthy this season – among the few on the team. If you’re looking for cause for frustration, those two are exhibits 1 and 1a. (For some, Bobby Valentine would be exhibit 2.)

Behind them, you would put Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz. Only Ortiz is having a stellar season. Beckett has been OK statistically, and Buchholz seemed to turn things around, but both are on injured reserve, as is Ellsbury, who has only played seven game this season. Pedroia is playing hurt, which on one hand endears him to fans, but on the other hand, might not be best for the team.Daniel Bard was a disaster as a starter, and Carl Crawford has yet to take the field this season.

This team is surviving because of guys we were not counting on – Will Middlebrooks, Cody Ross, Daniel Nava, Felix Doubront, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Aviles – all are having seasons above and beyond what we could’ve realistically hoped for.

So the biggest disappointments in this team have been the guys we know the best, and counted on. If you’re looking for a source of frustration, there it is. If you’re looking for a positive, it’s that the new and unknown guys have been very good.

It’s a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty proposition here. Will the established guys pick up the pace and play better over the course of the season? Their track record says they will. We saw the kind of home run streaks that Gonzalez is capable of last season. Can the new and unknown guys continue at the same high level of play they’ve shown thus far? You’d hope so, but some falloff has to be expected, especially from guys like Nava.

So where does this leave fans?

Are you OK with keeping this team as it is and rooting for and following it intensely? Or do they need to make major changes? Kevin Youkilis has already been moved so that Middlebrooks can play every day. Can they win a title this year with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett as their top two pitchers? If they can’t, do they try to trade one or both of those guys?

Can you invest yourself into this team for the rest of the season (or at least until Patriots training camp) or will you just casually follow them? If so, would it take some major changes for you to attach yourself to them?

  • Classless

    This is the most unlikable team since the Jose Offerman era. I have zero interest in watching any games. I think my main problem with them is the guys underachieving (Beckett, Lester, Gonzalez) are all healthy, so no excuses can be used. That’s a killer. Plus, with the mild exception of Beckett, Lester and Gonzalez are the quiet, milktoast, perceived indifferent type of players. Pedroia wears his heart on his sleeve (that’s why we love him). Quiet underachievers are the worst in the baseball.

    Combine all this with the arrogance unmatched in baseball by Ownership (sellout streak? okaaaay…) and you have a recipe for apathy.

    • tl;138

      You don’t find guys like Middlebrooks and Nava (and heck, even Cody Ross) likeable? Wow…okay I guess.

      • classless

        You’re such a known troll, it’s boring. Why do you bother posting?

        • tl;138

          How is this trolling?

          Here’s the actual definition:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29

          Please explain how my post is trolling. Thanks!

        • HighWireNickEsasky

          I don’t think that qualifies as trolling. Maybe he’s in a 12-step anti-trolling program. You should be more supportive.

  • Rick Mc

    I don’t really think about the players as unlikeable or likeable. I enjoyed following Pedro, Beltre, and at times Manny. And I like watching Pedroia and Ortiz, but overall I don’t care whether guys are quiet or pricks like Youk.

    On the field this team is tough. The poor production that Bruce pointed out and the constant injuries have drained them. They start to play well and immediately go into a slide.

  • Winning_Again

    I made it clear where I stand on this issue earlier in the year and also a few days ago in response to the lemming known as Uncle Jerry. I follow this current roster with the least amount of interest since I began watching sports. There are players on this roster that are so detestable, that unfortunately it overshadows the respectable effort of Ortiz, Pedroia, Middlebrooks. I also can’t stand this ownership anymore, because of the lies and BS they constantly throw at us, hoping we all will bite like Uncle Jerry and other Pink Hats. While we can’t force an ownership group to sell, we have the power to make them notice that we are not happy, by not going or watching the games. TV numbers are very important for advertising. I wonder if if the TV numbers are the lowest since 2006?

    I am saying this now in response to those who may deem my stance to be pink hat: The Team needs to cleanse itself of virus’ like Beckett & Lackey, and show determination to change the culture on Yawkey Way. That will get me to watch more intensely. That’s not Pink Hat, that’s calling the owners bluff. Bruins fans had to do this for years dealing with Jacobs. It took the lockout to finally make something happen.

    • Uncle Jerry

      There is no question that the ownership group has made some horrible decisions in the past couple of years. The big signings of Lackey and Crawford have not worked out as expected. The handling of Tito being fired was crass. They are far from perfect.

      However, do you not give them any credit for putting together the 2004 and 2007 championships? They have harnessed the resources of Fenway and NESN that generates huge revenue and have shown a willingness to put that money back on the field. Not all owners do that. They overhauled the player development system that has already paid off huge dividends and continues to churn out major league talent. I just think it is far better now than it was under the Yawkey regime. Do you remember what that was like? Would you rather Frank McCort got the team?

      Now onto the players. Do you really think that this group of players is any more likeable then guys from years past? Yeah Lackey and Beckett are asses, but wasn’t Pedro at times? How about the behind the scenes hijinks of Manny or all the sordid rumors about Orlando Cabrera, Derek Lowe, or Keith Folke? Were you caring about any of that when they won?

      If just watching the games hoping they win, not caring about the players personalities or behind the scenes stories, makes me a pink hat/lemming so be it. It is far better than getting caught up in all the Beer and Fried Chicken/Ticket streak drama that so many Sox fans get wrapped up in.

      • Winning_Again

        You are the ideal Sports Fan, we should all model our “Fan-dom” after you!

    • tl;138

      Once you use the term “Pink Hat” you automatically lose all credibility with me. It sets up an unfair “Us vs. Them” mentality with a fanbase for no reason. You’re all rooting for the same team!

  • bomber

    The games are just so long.If I were a kid growing up today there is no way they would hold my attention.Watching a sox game now is like watching a infomercial.I do watch the sox games out of habit.My feelings toward this team is indifferent.

    • bsmfan

      Laffey seems to be an astute pupil of the DiceK school of pitching. These guys are averaging between 19-32s per pitch. (yes, I timed)

  • latetodinner

    I will emotionally invest myself with this team the moment ownership does the same. Since they are more interested in the “event” and the business surrounding the event than the actual baseball I can spend extra time with my wife and kids this summer as I wait for Pats training camp to open.

    The players stories right now are irrelevant to me for the most part.

  • Winning_Again

    Random side note: Listening to Jermaine Wiggins today on TSH makes me cringe. He actually stated “Defensively, they need to get better at defense.” He makes redundant comments like this every 5 minutes. “If you can rush the passer successfully, then you can put pressure on the QB.”

    • bsmfan

      Yeah, I tuned out because one hour of Wiggens is bad enough. Apparently, Maz was gone so we got four hours.

      I’ll give him credit that he did a little stats work on the LeBron/MJ compare. He went back and replaced Wade/Bosh with players who were identical in 1989. Again.. progress for him (I honestly find him really ignorant if even the media landscape/media around here, so the thought of him doing any work himself is something I’m not able to comprehend).

      And, still, I really wonder who finds him good sportstalk? I’ve got to think that Jason Wolfe laughs his ass off every Tuesday they have him on.

      One thing: Felger seems to have “zero-tolerance” for stupid people. How does he tolerate Wiggens? I know he’s paid to tolerate it and probably told by a producer, but he has to have some influence here. I don’t exactly see Felger and Wiggens being “bros” and “chillin” together.

  • bsmfan

    Since it seems like everyone is trying to not talk sox/baseball,
    here is a good read from Yahoo! on the upcoming CBA talks:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nhl–stage-set-for-start-of-cba-between-nhl-and-nhlpa.html

  • bsmfan

    From the ratings-are-interesting department:

    A funny thing is happening in the U.S.: People are watching soccer. ESPN
    said today that Sunday’s Italy-England matchup in the quarterfinals of
    the European Cup soccer championships was seen by an average of 2.968
    million viewers in the States, bigger than any Euro Cup match number
    this year or in 2008 — except for the ’08 final on ABC (3.760 million for Germany vs. Spain).

    http://www.deadline.com/2012/06/euro-2012-soccer-ratings-espn-quarterfinals-bbc/

    ——-

    Side bar: Even MLS on NBC (and MLS on ESPN) is up, compared to last year, from what I’ve seen

    • latetodinner

      Isn’t that about equal to the Stanley Cup Finals numbers this year?

      • bsmfan

        I think it has. However, you compare year-to-year or series-to-series in all sporting events, from my reading on this.

        One big difference: Most of the SCF were on NBC, sans a few they put on NBCSN (for some really silly reason). These have all been on ESPN, usually at 2:45PM EDT, right smack in the middle of a workday/maybe after a schoolday for the east coast.

        —-

        Are there 3 f/t guys on the Pats beat now? I know Reiss has the #1/full-time position, and Field Yates/Rodak seem to help him out or are in the general “pool” of reporters for any New England assignments? I’m guessing here.

        Well, Field Yates was a scout for the Chiefs and is doing a scouting series between positions:

        http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4724356/scouts-notebook-quarterbacks

        • latetodinner

          If it is getting the same ratings as the SCF then that says all you need to know about hockey right now.
          As for the Globe and 3 full timers on the beat I think Reiss and Yates are full time and Rodak is an assistant while he finishes school. I could be wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/DryHeave1 DryHeave

    “So where does this leave fans?” …it leaves this fan saying, “when does football season start?”

  • bettyd

    I love having the Red Sox on in the background all summer. That is what we do in this house. Of course, as soon as the Olympics are on, we are on that every night it is on, and all day on the weekends. We love the Olympics, and I hope a few sports outlets have info on it. I know most of the radio folks will not discuss Olympics, but the Globe has done great job covering it in the past. I think it is supposed to be Bob Ryan’s last assignment, which is perfect send off in my opinion.