Sports fans tend to overreact, and nowhere is this more drastic than in Boston (besides maybe Dallas, but that’s only sometimes with football). One win for the Sox means the world series is ours. One win for the Celtics means the era of Bill Russell is inevitable. But one loss for the Patriots means that Brady is done, one loss for the Bruins means they’re eliminated from the playoffs, and one loss for the Sox means that it’s time to fire everyone, trade the farm, and rebuild.
The Sox lost to the Angels last night, in a kind of ugly game. The million dollar man David Price had a sub par game (despite that he’s been pretty good, excellent even, after coming back from injury), the offense struggled after taking an early lead, and the same reaction comes: the team needs to be completely revamped. The pitchers suck, the bullpen is untrustworthy, and they need to trade 40% of their farm system and roster for power hitting.
But this is a classic Boston overreaction. As much as I love watching sports and enjoying the discussions involved, and the inevitable bickering between analysts and callers to the radio, it’s annoying that so many people act like the team needs an overhaul every time someone grounds out. This team is actually a much bigger contender than people give them credit for. Chris Sale is having a Pedro-esque season, Pomeranz is pitching far better than I thought he could, Price is recovering from elbow injury and performing well, and the fill in fifth starters have been decent as well. Even Porcello, who has been underwhelming at times after a Cu Young season, has had some fantastic outings ruined by offensive struggles. The bullpen have been good as well, especially all star Craig Kimbrel. The offense is not nearly as bad as people think- most of the fielders have solid hitting averages, and the outfield especially has provided excellent defense.
There is room for improvement. Power hitting is certainly an issue, as they’ve had troubles generating runs. Their home run totals are astonishingly bad, but improving. A power bat would be great to have, but giving up too much for it would be a mistake. Another bullpen arm would be a great benefit, but I don’t trust Dombrowski to give a reasonable deal after the Thornberg deal (in which he incidentally gave up someone who has 22 homers so far). Adding a regular third baseman is, I think, their biggest need, but again I think it’s best not to overpay and to work with Lin, Holt, and Rutledge for the time being.
The biggest issue, I think, is that the team has nobody to take charge and rally everyone. Ortiz filled that role when he was here. Right now, they have nobody with that kind of personality. Ramirez only tries half the time, Pedroia tends to lead quietly (which can work when there’s another dominant personality like Ortiz), and Bette, Bogaerts, and the other young players aren’t experienced enough to really take charge yet. Added with a somewhat lackluster manager, it may be a good idea to find a veteran player who wants a ring and would be a leader in the clubhouse, if one could be found for a decent price.
We overreact way too much to our sports teams. Especially with the Sox, it’s best to be patient and let the season play out without demanding the team completely rework itself. The core of the team is still developing in skill, and if they can keep that together, maintain the pitching staff, and trim some of the fat (like they did last week!) the team could have something really special.