Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

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    Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    by Jon Paul Morosi/Fox Sports

    BOSTON

    The wind swirled, the temperature dropped, the American flag whipped about in the tempest. An uncommonly thick fog obscured the skyscrapers and settled over Fenway Park.

    But on Saturday night, after great angst and anticipation, the prophecy failed to come true.

    The Boston Red Sox didn’t move into first place.

    Oh, you were expecting something else?

    Actually, in New England, they were. The belief here was that life would return to normal — or, at least what the locals deem normal to be. With a win Saturday over the lowly Chicago Cubs, the Red Sox would have ascended to the top of the American League East for the first time since Opening Day . . . of last year.

    They had a two-run lead. They were two innings away.

    Then the bullpen and defense came unraveled in an eight-run eighth inning. The Red Sox lost, 9-3, before a sellout crowd and primetime audience on FOX.

    What does it mean? Well, first of all, Boston has nearly made it all the way back from a stupefying 0-6 and 2-10 start.

    That is no small feat. Even with Saturday's bullpen collapse, the Red Sox possess the American League’s best record in May. And there’s a very real chance we would be talking about Boston’s eighth straight win, if Red Sox manager Terry Francona hadn’t decided before Saturday’s game that setup man Daniel Bard needed an extra night off.

    Reliever Matt Albers (31 pitches, zero outs) was the main culprit in this one. And you won’t find his photo on the cover of the press guide.

    Still, this weekend’s 93-year reunion with the Cubs has revealed plenty about the Red Sox. Most notably, they are not built to win the sort of tight, low-scoring games they will encounter during the postseason. (And yes, implicit in that statement is my belief that they will get there.)

    The Red Sox are an excellent team, with an identity much closer to its 13-6 May than the awful 11-15 April.

    But they are far from a finished product. It’s a good thing that they have one of the best general managers in baseball, because Theo Epstein will need to make a couple of midseason trades in order to transform this team into a champion.

    Since I’m in a charitable mood, let’s start with what I like about this team.

    Obviously, the Red Sox really hit. For May, they are the major-league leaders in OPS and runs. Over the full season, they have above-average production in every lineup spot except second (oddly, Dustin Pedroia) and eighth (hello, Carl Crawford).

    Barring injuries, this is — and will continue to be — one of the best offenses in baseball. In fact, it’s quite possible that it will get better as the season goes along, even if Epstein doesn’t deal for a hitter. Pedroia won’t finish at .238. Crawford, likewise, will improve upon his .213. At least, I think he will.

    Of all the factoids and oddities surrounding Crawford’s confounding start, this might be the most startling: He has batted higher than seventh only once in the last month, on May 5. And that didn’t go so well. The Red Sox lost that afternoon to the Angels, 11-0.

    On Saturday, the Cubs intentionally walked Jed Lowrie, homerless for a month, to face Crawford, the $142 million left fielder. Equally jarring was that the strategy worked, as Crawford grounded out to end Saturday’s seventh.

    Mostly, though, I’m enamored with Boston’s lineup because of Adrian Gonzalez. He is doing what all the pundits said he would, becoming (along with Jose Bautista and Miguel Cabrera) one of the must-see at-bats in the American League.

    Gonzalez is the major-league leader in RBI, even though the guy hitting in front of him (Pedroia) hasn’t been himself over the season’s first six weeks. For so many other run producers who switched teams — Adam Dunn, Jayson Werth, Dan Uggla — there have been explanations and rationalizations. For Gonzalez, there have been only loud noises off his bat.

    "It's a matter of getting at-bats under me and finding that swing," he said. "There came a point when I started feeling my swing. At that point, it’s not about the ballpark. Once I’m able to stay behind balls and through balls, that’s what I’m looking for."

    Thanks to Gonzalez, Epstein can feel content with his offense, even if Crawford’s first season remains a flop. But the pitching staff is thin, more 2003 (pre-Schilling, pre-Foulke) than 2004.

    Starters John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka are on the disabled list with bum elbows, and no one knows what the Red Sox can expect from either. Until further notice, Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield account for two-fifths of the rotation. That was not part of the master plan. More than anything, the Red Sox are quite fortunate that Josh Beckett has resumed pitching like the ace he was (and maybe is).

    The Red Sox are winning with offense right now. That is fine for May, less optimal in October. In 2007, during their most recent world championship season, the Red Sox had the best team ERA in the American League. As of Saturday morning, they ranked 11th.

    The bullpen’s performance has been an issue, with Bobby Jenks' absence and turnover among the left-handers spotlighting the need for at least one more veteran hand. But the bullpen's workload has been perhaps the greater concern. The fact that Francona felt compelled to give Bard consecutive days off speaks to how heavily the manager has relied on the 25-year-old already this season. Bard, in only his second full season, is tied for the AL lead in appearances by right-handers.

     

    Paradoxically, one issue with the relievers has been the starters. The Red Sox rank among the bottom half of AL teams in innings pitched by their rotation. If that trend continues — and it probably will, as long as Aceves and Wakefield remain in the rotation — even more will be asked of a below-average bullpen.

    A heavy bullpen workload won’t necessarily prevent the Red Sox from reaching the World Series. The Texas Rangers, after all, logged the most relief innings in the AL last year. Obviously, that wasn’t a deal-breaker. But it did compel them to lengthen their rotation by trading for Cliff Lee, the ultimate prize on the midsummer market.

    Makes you wonder if Epstein will make a similarly dramatic move for a starting pitcher before July 31 . . . and if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from SoxPatsCelts1988. Show SoxPatsCelts1988's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    As it stands right now, maybe they should have spent the money on Lee.

    I think the Yankees are thinking the same thing.

    Signing Lee would have also allowed the Sox to pass on a guy like Jenks because you'd be getting more innings from the starters.

    Then they could have traded Dice-K.

    So many dominos from any angle you view this thing.
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from FenwayChuck. Show FenwayChuck's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    I was unaware that LEE had any "Likes" about the possibility of pitching in Boston.

    I heard that he WANTED to pitch in Texas or Philly.... but hey those were just rumors.. so who knows.

    Besides we are saving up our pitching roster spots for KING FELIX to fill two of them later..... LOL
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from pinstripezac32. Show pinstripezac32's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

     Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    what's the point

    lee wasn't going to go to boston anyways
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from BurritoT. Show BurritoT's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    In Response to Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.:
    [QUOTE]As it stands right now, maybe they should have spent the money on Lee. I think the Yankees are thinking the same thing. Signing Lee would have also allowed the Sox to pass on a guy like Jenks because you'd be getting more innings from the starters. Then they could have traded Dice-K. So many dominos from any angle you view this thing.
    Posted by SoxPatsCelts1988[/QUOTE]


    NO!  Tito would be pulling Lee after 6 regardless of how dominant Lee pitched - 
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from fivekatz. Show fivekatz's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    In Response to Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.:
    [QUOTE]I was unaware that LEE had any "Likes" about the possibility of pitching in Boston. I heard that he WANTED to pitch in Texas or Philly.... but hey those were just rumors.. so who knows. Besides we are saving up our pitching roster spots for KING FELIX to fill two of them later..... LOL
    Posted by FenwayChuck[/QUOTEHis desire to play in Philly is no longer a rumor. He turned down a larger offer from Texas and the largest offer he recieved was from the NYY which he also turned down.

    So just how was Boston going to sign Lee?
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from BurritoT. Show BurritoT's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    No way do you sign Lee when you already have Beckett, Lester, and Clay - too much money on any one pitcher is high-risk.
     
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  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from proftom. Show proftom's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    Liked this article a lot. Thanks for posting it.

    Baseball is full of drama and paradox. Lots of if's, maybe's, could of's and should -ofs.  Lee would help a lot, but if he were  here we'd be worried what if he breaks down. Come the warmer weather of June, July, and August Crawford's bat will heat up and he will be batter 3rd in the line up. 

    The starters will get healthy and the pen will struggle all year. Albers took one for the team yesterday. He didn't seem to be in right form yesterday. But, he tried. He is a much better pitcher than what he showed yesterday. 

    I didn't realize it was time to think about Theo's big mid-season moves yet. Still seems kind of early in the season.  
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from RonSwanson. Show RonSwanson's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    In Response to Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.:
    [QUOTE] Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along. what's the point lee wasn't going to go to boston anyways
    Posted by pinstripezac32[/QUOTE]



    Exactly. It's not like we chose between Lee and Crawford. Only one was a realistic option. If Lee had mentioned any desire to pitch in Boston, this would be a story. This article just assumes that he would have wanted to play for the Sox. Considering the deal he took to sign with the Phils, it's pretty clear that that is where he wanted to be.
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from tom-uk. Show tom-uk's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    This article just assumes that he would have wanted to play for the Sox.

    That never stopped Mazz from saying that about Teix.




     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from JimfromFlorida. Show JimfromFlorida's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    I believe the thread to be very dumb.Let's see Lee wanted to be in Texas or Philly
    His wife wanted Philly.
    The NYY offered more money than either Philly or Texas.
    Texas said how much do you want?

    Basing all the above on what has been out there since he signed with Philly

    What makes anyone think the RS could have signed him?
    Which makes the premise of the article dumb.
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from SoxSoldRed. Show SoxSoldRed's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    The question isn't if Lee was the better target. The statement is that Crawford was the wrong target.
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from Your-Echo. Show Your-Echo's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    A long column by Morosi about many different topics. His last sentence was a wishful thinking thought or opinion by him saying "Makes you wonder if Epstein will make a similarly dramatic move for a starting pitcher before July 31 . . . and if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along." It is just speculation on his part and not an argument. Why is the thread about something that he tossed out as an afterthought at the last moment in his ling column? The OP is inferring that this is what the column was about and it is not. Maybe we needed Lee instead of Crawford - perfect 20-20 hindsight, every 12 year old on the playround might say the same thing. Maybe - Maybe - Maybe.
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from TheExaminer. Show TheExaminer's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    Nice post, but all academic. Has no practical application. Besides, I'm not sure I agree. In the long run, it's more likely Cliff Lee will be less effective and be more injury prone. We are seeing the absolute worst of Crawford right now, eventually, we'll see his best. I'll stick with what we've got. No way to change it anyway unless you're great friends with Dr. Emmit L. Brown.
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from moonslav59. Show moonslav59's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    Like I said all along, we should have signed Berkamn to play LF for $9M, not CC. (He signed for $8M/1.)

    The left over $11M for 2011 could have been used to sign a catcher and another reliever (or upgrade from Wheeler to a Downs type).

    Wink
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from Your-Echo. Show Your-Echo's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    bump
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from susan250. Show susan250's posts

    Re: Fox Sports: The Sox still have issues.Makes you wonder if Lee, not Crawford, was the free agent this team needed all along.

    Lee was not going to sign with the Red Sox.  Not sure if I ever heard that the Red Sox even had any interest in signing him, but it never would have happened.  I always thought he would go back to Texas.  I don't think anyone ever saw him signing with the Phillies.  He would have signed with NY before he signed with Boston. 
     
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