It was just last Sunday that we pointed out that the Red Sox needed to go only 14-26 over their remaining 40 games to avoid matching the mere 69 wins that Bobby Valentine led them to in 2012.
Well, it’s now a seemingly less manageable 14-19 over their final 33.
The now-seven-game losing streak for the free-falling Sox, who lost to the Seattle Mariners, 7-3, Saturday at Fenway Park, is only three short of the season-high 10-game skid Boston hit in May, back when devotion in the defending World Series champions faced its first, real test. The Red Sox were 20-19 the day that particular streak began on May 15 against the Minnesota Twins. They’re 36-53 since.
How low can it ultimately get?
Boston hasn’t lost 100 games in a season since 1965 (62-100), and it would have to go 6-27 in order to do so again in 2014. That’s a ludicrous proposition even for these Red Sox, who might stink, but still possess an intriguing mix of emerging talent.
But if any fan base who watched their team come off a world title only 10 months ago has a right to complain, it’s probably the Red Sox’. OK, so that is a birthright, really, but while 2013 remains a pleasant anomaly of unexpected good fortune, the seasons sandwiching it have been so wildly unsuccessful that they should reap long-term benefits for the club, even if the performances may be construed as borderline unacceptable in a big market like Boston.
As Fox’s Ken Rosenthal pointed out on Friday, the Kansas City Royals, the annual also-ran who are finally a surging contender in 2013, have more wins than the Red Sox since the beginning of the 2012 season – 230 to Boston’s 222. Barring a late-season surge, the Sox will have a top-seven draft pick for the second time in three years, a matter Rosenthal notes puts them in a much stronger position – in all layers of player acquisition – going forward.
Still, the fact that there has been that much suck can be a bitter pill. Had the Red Sox not won the World Series in between, imagine the amount of angst Red Sox fans would rightfully possess. It’s not so bad to have that little nugget in your back pocket when criticism accompanies another last-place season.
This season has a completely different feel to it than the slow death march the final stretch of 2012 brought with it. The malcontent has been replaced by a raw inability striving to prove itself in the midst of an arena for which the talent simply isn’t quite ready. And it’s not going to get any better in time for for the apple-picking and pigskin-Sunday race to the finish.
In Rusney Castillo, the Cuban defector who signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox on Saturday, Boston has gotten an enigma with a high ceiling, a player who hasn’t competed in a year-and-a-half, yet one who possesses the tools to make him the latest import worthy to have his name lumped in with the likes of fellow countrymen Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said during the press conference to introduce Castillo on Saturday that he hopes to see him roaming center field for the major league club in September.
Perfect. The Red Sox’ lineup could use more lack of experience.
The Red Sox should get back on track in 2015, a factor that is dependent on how Cherington works the offseason trade and free agent markets in accordance with Red Sox youth maturing and improving. Until then though, the stench of futility has infiltrated corners of the clubhouse where nobody once thought possible. Even Koji Uehara, 0-2 in his last two appearances, allowing six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings (a 45.00 ERA), has been unable to avoid the plaque. That’s three runs shy of the nine he allowed all last season. Meanwhile, the lost cause that is seemingly Xander Bogaerts has reached new lows, with the 21-year-old hitting all of .106 with a .323 OPS during the month of August, perhaps further proof that the kid should have spent more than a good portion of the summer swinging for the fences and swigging Del’s Lemonade in Pawtucket.
Then again, there must be a lot to learn at such a young age, going from being fitted for a World Series ring one offseason to fighting off the stigma of being just another overrated prospect the next. First to Worst to…
“Clearly there are some areas we’d like to add to this offseason and we have to figure out what we feel makes the most sense, whether that’s trying to add through free agency or trades, weigh the cost and the expected return,” Cherington said last week. “There are definitely times when a trade makes more sense than free agency, and there are times where it’s vice versa. I think we’ve just got to get in the offseason and see what those opportunities are.”
Bogaerts, among many others, could have a different address in 2015 and beyond (Miami?), whether he was once a cornerstone of the future or not. For now though, he’s just part of another lost season for the Boston Red Sox, a campaign that has gone from bad to worse, somehow, someway, without losing much intrigue, which, I guess, is as sure a sign as any that our short-term memories do indeed go back to at least October.