The 2014 Boston Red Sox are one of the most frustrating teams to watch in recent memory. I almost feel guilty critiquing them after the 2013 championship run, so I have chosen to give them a pass, and put my trust in the ownership group. It’s silly to critique an ownership group like the John Henry trio. They are always putting a plan in motion, in a way they are a lot like the Celtics with Danny “Trader Danny” Ainge at the helm. While franchises like the Patriots and Bruins have a rock solid structure, the Celtics and Red Sox are constantly adapting to trends.
Maybe they are packing it in this year. The things that went well for them in the 2013 World Series season (Nava / Gomes platoon being ultra effective, Victorino playing way above his pay grade, Buchholz not throwing extended batting practice every fifth day) have blown up directly in their face. Brock Holt has been a catalyst for this lineup, which is great and horrible at the same time. You can’t rely on Holt to be Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup. Eventually he will turn back into Brock Holt. Don’t be surprised if he hits below .275 the rest of the way out. He might finish the season at a respectable .285, but it will be due to the inflated first half. Obviously, Holt isn’t the problem. The Legend of Brock Holt is one of those tall tales that would be way cooler if it was taking place during a season when we weren’t relying on it to keep us hovering seven games under .500 all season. Jake Peavy left the Sox with nine losses, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In all nine of his losses he received more than three runs of support zero times. He let up five earned runs or more in four of those losses. However, he had five no decisions with two earned runs or less.
It doesn’t matter how you look at this season. Anyway you slice it, has been bad. The team has been easy to root for, but tough to watch. That almost makes it harder than a season like 2012 when you could choose to not watch the games as a form of rebellion. Last year was supposed to be a bridge year but it ended up being a championship season. It wasn’t a fluke by any means, it was just a perfect storm of overachieving player’s, beards, and chemistry. Maybe this year is the real bridge year.
The Red Sox have a plan, and it should involve Jon Lester. Don’t say, “They need to stop acting like they are spending on a Minnesota budget” because they aren’t. The Lester debacle is unique in that they took “hometown discount” to a new level with the low-ball 4-year $70 million offer in Spring Training. That was nearly disrespectful, yet he remains loyal to the city of Boston. Lester continuously says this is where he wants to be. As a skeptic of any quotes that comes from an athlete’s mouth during a contract year, I wholeheartedly believe Lester.
There are guys like David Ortiz who you love because he is an entertainer. He is a larger than life character who will crush a fastball, flip his bat, and drags his nuts around the bases going at a snail like pace (I’m looking at you Chris Archer).
You love Jon Lester because he is the kind of guy you would want your son to emulate in Little League. A very abbreviated version of his story goes something like this. In 2006 Lester was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a treatable cancer. He returned during the 2007 season only to became the third starter in baseball history to get his first postseason win in the clinching game of a World Series, which is kind of admirable.. But most of all you are drawn to Lester because he seems genuine when he talks so glowingly about the Red Sox franchise. Maybe he has a different outlook on life than most athletes who haven’t come back from a bout with cancer. Boston was there for him during what was likely his lowest moment. Outside of his role on the 2012 “Bobby Valentine Variety Show” Red Sox, he has been everything a fan, a teammate, a coach, or an owner could want. Regardless of what happens in the next two days I firmly believe Jon Lester will be in a Red Sox uniform in 2015.
Optimism as a Red Sox fan is still new to most. Three World Series’s in a decade should have done a lot to change that, but it hasn’t. Be patient, wait until next year, because this offseason should be huge. Giancarlo Stanton will be on the market, there are a few big arms set to hit free agency, and Ben Cherington should be making serious moves. After the 2015 season the Red Sox don’t have any big money left on the books other than Pedroia, Ortiz, and Buchholz. If there is a player out there that they have their eye on, they won’t hesitate to open up the check book.