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Eric Wilbur's Sports Blog

Reality Bites the Red Sox, and There's Nothing Left to Do But Sell

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AP Photo


No more rock bottoms, turning points, or occasionally-surging signs of life.

Only reality remains for the 2014 Boston Red Sox.

What has been abundantly clear for weeks began germinating on Saturday when the Red Sox dealt starter Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants for a couple of minor league arms; Boston is selling on the disastrous follow-up to the 2013 World Series championship, with Peavy being the first of many names to change jerseys before Thursday’s non-waiver trading deadline.

By then, Koji Uehara, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Junichi Tazawa, and yes, perhaps even Jon Lester, could all have new addresses and new teams with which to fulfill the postseason dream that has died in Boston.

The recent streak of positivity coming out of the All-Star break? We should have known. After the Red Sox lost 10 in a row back in May, they followed it up with a seven-game winning streak, only to follow that up with another losing streak, this one of five games. Give them this; they’re consistent at being inconsistent. So, when the Sox won five in a row after the Midsummer Classic, the only natural assumption was that they’d simply lose another five in a row to slip back into mediocrity. And that is precisely what has happened.

Saturday night’s 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was about as lifeless an effort as you’ll see from a ballclub, one that understands any of them could be next on the way out, especially after it lost a pivotal part of the clubhouse earlier in the day in Peavy. Hey, at least he was critical somewhere.

Let’s face it; Peavy is a nice guy. He bought a duck boat and a cigar store Indian statue. But he did as much to help the Red Sox win last year’s World Series as the dancing guy in the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. His record in Boston finishes at 5-10 with a 4.48 ERA. He had a 21.00 ERA in the ALCS last October, and couldn’t make it past four innings in his only World Series start. He made 20 starts with the Sox in 2014 and won once, a feat so impossibly futile that one can’t possibly look at the menial run support behind him and place the blame on that one, single factor.

But would you trade shortstop Jose Iglesias, who went to the Detroit Tigers in the three-way deal for Peavy last summer with the Chicago White Sox, for a pair of prospects (22-year-old lefthander Edwin Escobar and 25-year-old righthander Heath Hembree) who are considered among the top 10 in the Giants system? Yup, and that’s even before you know what Iglesias is going forward with the shin injuries that sidelined him all of the 2014 season.

Peavy wasn’t a bust in Boston, but to consider him an integral reason why the Red Sox won last season is an erroneous assessment.

Now, he’s only the first of many shoes to drop over the next five days.

“Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible toward April of 2015,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “That might mean doing very little; it might mean doing a bunch of stuff; it might be in-between. I don’t know yet.

“We’re listening. We’re gathering information as we have been for the last month or so. As we get closer to the deadline it starts to become more clear to what teams are the most motivated to add in different areas.”

Does that include infrequently-used outfielders?

The trading deadline can get silly, which it did on Saturday when news leaked that Mike Carp, batting .215 in 39 games this season, had asked for a trade. Perfect.

Cherington has to weigh the significant pros and cons of trading the likes of a guy like Lester, and what that means for both the short-and-long-term prospects for the franchise, and here comes the Milton of the Red Sox requesting that the GM spend time brokering a deal for him instead of him simply scribbling “DFA” on the remnants of the Five Guys meal wrappers that the baseball ops folks tore through in the three minutes they had off the phone lines today. Mike Carp. Right.

“I lobbied as best I could,” Carp told the Globe. “It’s frustrating not to get opportunities. I just don’t know where I fit in and I expressed that. “

Maybe there’s a Gettysburg reenactment troupe out there interested. Otherwise, don’t expect much.

With everybody else over the age of 25? The Red Sox have a message: If the price is right, you can have pretty much anybody.

“We have to be mindful of what that means with where we are, what the math says about our chances, and we have to act accordingly,” Cherington said. “Whatever we do between now and then will be geared toward putting ourselves in the best possible position as quickly as possible.”

Cherington did help turn Bobby V’s 2012 into 2013, so what’s to say he can’t do the same miraculous transition twice within four seasons?

This year is finished, and the Red Sox have publicly acknowledged the inevitable. No more illusions and false prophesies of hope. No more promises that no one could keep. Today, the charade is over.

Back to reality.

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