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The State of the Sox

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  August 7, 2009 05:57 PM

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The Red Sox have capped a difficult stretch of baseball with the most chaotic 48 hours of their season, the jettisoning of a Hall of Fame pitcher highlighting a near overhaul of the roster. While falling behind the Yankees by 3 ½ games in the American League East and going 8-11 since the All-Star break, the Red Sox have shuffled through eight new players in one week. Realistic and resolute, general manager Theo Epstein addressed the state of the Red Sox.

“It’s a challenging time for this team,” general manager Theo Epstein said. “There’s no doubt about it. We’re not playing the type of baseball we want to play. We’re not getting consistent quality starts. We aren’t hitting with runners in scoring position. It makes for a challenging time. Since All-Star break, we haven’t won as many games as we would like. A lot of things are going wrong with health and performance. It’s time like these that you find out what you’re all about as a club and as an organization.

Things can go two ways when you have challenging periods. You can rise up to meet the challenge, or you can let it get the best of you. I know this team plans on doing the former.”

Starting pitching has been the Red Sox sorest spot, an incredible development given their roster composition and expectations earlier this year. Popular wisdom stated the Red Sox possessed a surplus of pitchers; if anything, their problem was too many pitchers. Now, the Sox have Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, John Smoltz designated for assignment and mulling his future, and Brad Penny and Clay Buchholz each providing middling-at-best production.

“It’s been surprising sort of how quickly we’ve gone from quote-unquote the best starting pitching depth in baseball to a challenging time for our rotation,” Epstein said. “That’s happened quickly, but it’s not unexpected. It’s the reason we didn’t trade away our stating pitching when we had a perceived surplus. It’s not unusual to get to this point at some point during the season, where you have to find a way to turn it around in the back half of the rotation. But it’s important that you do find a way to stabilize the rotation and get a number of pitchers giving us a chance to win night-in and night-out. That’s our challenge right now.”

Epstein was asked about Junichi Tazawa’s immediate future, if he was with the Sox to stay. The answered revealed a capital-T truth about the Sox – right now, nothing is certain.

“Given everything that’s going on with the club right now, I don’t think it’s possible to make any definitive statements,” Epstein said. “Because we’re at a challenging time and things have gone not as anticipated the last few weeks, it’s certainly day-to-day with a lot of things, if not inning-to-inning or pitch-to-pitch. Last night, we made Verizon a lot of money with the cell phones, given all that was going on. We were trying to find a way to field a full roster for today and make things work.

“I don’t think it’s a time to make definitive statements, other than to say things will stabilize. It’s not going to stay like this, and we’re going to get through it as an organization.”

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