Who are the real Boston Red Sox?


The Boston Red Sox are the defending World Series champions, yet they haven’t been relevant in any post season talks all year.  The last time they were in first place was three games into the season when they were 2-1 on April 3.  It has been all down hill from there, as Boston is likely to finish in last place in the AL East for the second time in the last three years.  While most teams would be looking for responses to unanswered questions, the Red Sox at least have a World Series trophy to hold fans over.

Let’s take a look at some similarities and differences between these three teams (2012-2014).  Some constants among all three seasons were second baseman Dustin Pedroia, designated hitter David Ortiz, infielder Will Middlebrooks, outfielder Daniel Nava, pitcher Clay Bluchholz, pitcher Junichi Tazawa, pitcher Craig Breslow, and more or less pitcher Jon Lester.  The rest of the roster, as well as Lester, has been overturned or replaced over the last three years.

Obviously, 2013 was the right formula that led Boston to a division and World Series title.  So what happened that made them regress so badly back to their last place form from 2012?

Player turnover that severe limits the team chemistry that is developed in the clubhouse.  Players were brought in last season who helped the team out, yet not all of them stuck around to help defend their championship.

2012 was the year in which Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett were all traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for James Loney, Nick Punto, and an abundance of freed up money.  The money saved from dealing those three mega contracts allowed Boston to acquire the likes of Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, and Jake Peavy.  Do those names sound familiar?  They were key pieces to the team that went on to win the 2013 World Series.

Uehara has been just as effective this season.  Victorino has been hurt the majority of the season.  Napoli is hitting almost ten points lower than last year with less home runs and much fewer RBI.  Gomes was traded to the Oakland A’s.  Drew was not signed until after the season was underway; he played in 39 games before being traded to the New York Yankees.  Peavy was traded to the Giants at the end of July.

The production of the 2013 World Series team was simply not there.  There was no magical beard to save the day for the Red Sox this year, although there were still some epic beards in the clubhouse.  Boston is 25th in runs scored this season and 24th in runs allowed.  Those numbers have resulted in their last place position in the division.

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A year ago, Boston was 1st in runs scored, and 13th in runs allowed.  They had the offensive fire power to come from behind in games and the ability to stop opponents from scoring when they had the lead.  Home field advantage is a powerful thing when referring to playing at Fenway Park as well.

With the lack of production from this year’s team, the Red Sox found themselves in the cellar for most of the season.  This allowed them to rebuild for next year, although I find it hard to believe that Red Sox fans are willing to accept any form of “rebuilding” that doesn’t also constitute winning now at the same time.

Boston dealt the majority of its starting pitchers as well as Gomes and Drew.  They got some young prospects in return as well as Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig.  Lester has said he is willing to resign with Boston after this season, so the Red Sox may have essentially lent him to Oakland while taking their best power hitter in the process.

Last season, the Red Sox made the right moves to win a championship after finishing the year before in last place.  This year, they made the wrong moves to defend any part of that championship.  They have already made moves working towards 2015 and still have the entire off-season to replenish and restock their roster.  There may be some veteran guys like Pedroia and Ortiz still, but the rest of the everyday players need to have more chemistry and desire to win than the 2014 team had.