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Sunday Mail: Are Red Sox Hitters Underachiving, Or Did We Overrate The Offense Overall?

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I'm setting the over/under for Red Sox runs against A's lefty Tommy Milone at zero today. And if you don't think this offense is capable of achieving the under, you haven't been watching. Call 'em the Less Than Zeroes ...

On to ...

THE MAILBOX

No question, just a comment: It seems more likely the Red Sox can turn it around by waiting for the likes of Pedey and JBJ to figure things out and hit better, for Shane Victorino to stay on the field awhile, and the left field platoon that we entered the season with get stabilized. Not saying it will be, just saying the odds aren't much worse than getting all Sprague on this season.
-- Andy

Ouch -- the Ed Sprague reference made me shiver. I don't know that I've ever been more annoyed with the Red Sox than when the 2000 Yankees got David Justice from Cleveland a few days before the trading deadline while the Sox ended up with Sprague. Justice and Glennallen Hill, an August pickup, combined for 36 homers in 461 plate appearances for the eventual champs. Sprague had a .599 OPS, got outplayed by Lou Merloni (who had returned from Japan), and returned to the Padres before August was over. Ugh.

Man, you sent me down a rabbit hole there. Anyway, I agree with you in terms of waiting it out, because there's really no other choice. There's not a major bat available that I can see, and if 75 percent of the underachievers don't get it going, it really doesn't matter what else they do anyway. The Red Sox have players with a long and/or recent track record of producing who haven't done much this season for various reasons. If this season is to be salvaged, it's the players who put them in this hole who are going to have to get them out of it.

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Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but the pitching has been stellar and the offense has been horrendous. Isn't that better than the other way around? Pitching is the tough thing to acquire. History says the offense has to improve, right?
-- John Dopson

I'd agree that it bodes better, but it's also more exasperating than if the pitching were doing a staff-wise imitation of the '96 Tigers while the offense put up the usual huge numbers we've been accustomed to. The Red Sox have scored 15 runs in their last eight games. A one-run deficit right now feels like a five-run gap, and when you're in a drought like they are, it feels like they'll never have a productive offensive ever again. I still think there's a reasonable chance that 3-4 of these guys get hot at once and the Red Sox go on a tear. But it needs to happen soon, and given the pitchers they're facing on this road trip, I can't convince myself it will.

You mentioned underperformers-- here I disagree with you. The problem is last year the Sox OVERachieved to a huge degree. Who on the roster is seriously underperforming in your view? Pedroia? I agree, though its possible his skills have just eroded (it's been a downhill slide power-wise for years now). OFers? Gomes/Nava are not full-time players, and Victorino is always hurt. We have no evidence to suggest JBJ is anything more than a quad-A player. Buchholz? Its safe to assume he'll never be fully healthy, ever, so why should we expect 30 starts? Peavy? He's been sliding for years, and his peripheral numbers last year were not good despite decent baseball-card stats. AJ, Ortiz, Bogaerts, the starters not named Clay Buchholtz, the bullpen-- they've all performed to expectations. I think the problem is some of these guys just aren't that good or have gotten old. That doesn't take away at all from what they accomplished last year, just being honest.
-- Reality

Agree with your last two lines. They did have a lot of best-case scenarios work for them last year. Maybe they should have planned for more regression at certain spots. But to have all of it go wrong -- to have Pedroia turn into Ron Oester, Gomes and Nava to cease being a very useful platoon (no one said they were every-day players), or JBJ fall on his face (an .840 OPS in his first stint in Triple A does not suggest a Quad A player -- that's hindsight). They weren't banking on Peavy to be more than a No. 4; they knew there would be highs and lows with Buchholz because there always are -- remember, he did start the season as the supposed fifth starter. I can't blame them for being unprepared or overrating a team that just cruised to a World Series title. This has been the bizarro version of last year, and you just cannot plan for that.

Where to get a lobster roll in Southern Maine? Why not package Peavy and Buchholz for some bats?
-- Hungry

Best lobster roll, bar none, I've had since I've lived up here is at the Wells Beach Lobster Pound, the location of which is fairly evident in the title. It's a quintessentially Maine, no-frills local place, and they make the lobster roll fresh while you wait. There's also a place in downtime Kennebunkport named Alisson's that has a monster lobster roll, but I haven't been there in a couple of years so that might have changed. You couldn't get a McDonald's lobster roll for Peavy or Buchholz at the moment, let alone any hitter who is going to help solve what is going on here.

If no Kevin Love...would you trade Rondo to Sacramento for No. 8, Ben McLemore, and Isaiah Thomas? In my opinion, this would allow them to take Embiid and still not miss out on one of the other top prospects.
-- Mark

mclemorebenfinn623.JPGAbsolutely, and that comes from a huge Rondo fan who can't stand Thomas's game. That seems like a ton for Sacramento to give up. McLemore had a tough rookie year, shooting just 37.6 percent and 32 percent from three, and that ought to slow the Ray Allen comps for now. (Allen could put up those percentages shooting lefthanded.) But he's just 21, and his shot is gorgeous -- if he has his head screwed on straight, he should still be a fine player. And that eighth pick might just allow the Celtics to end up with Aaron Gordon as well. A deal like that would be a hell of a step in the rebuilding process -- you'd have, best-case-scenario, Embiid, Gordon, McLemore, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, the 17th pick, plus the various future No. 1s they own. I'd do it. Can't imagine the Kings would. That's a lot to give up.

The semi-regular "most likely to next win a championship among Boston teams" question. I say B's, Pats, Sox, C's. You?
-- Guest

All right, let's end on a question that reminds us how good we actually have it, with two legit title contenders, the Red Sox defending a title (maybe "defending" isn't the right word), and the Celtics at a fascinating crossroads. I'd flip the Patriots and Bruins, but it's close. With that chronic NFL caveat in mind -- if they stay healthy -- I think the Patriots are built to win this year, especially if Revis is Revis and Gronk is available at the end of the season for once. Can't wait to see this Patriots team for real.

Until next week, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please.

No sweet music today. Just a sweet swing.