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Monday, July 9, 2012

Red Sox Head to Break With Too Many Question Marks

BOSTON, MA - MAY 02:  Carl Crawford #13 of the...
One of the many question marks for the Red Sox after the break revolves around Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. What will Boston receive from the outfield duo?  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
The Red Sox head into the All Star break having lost three of four to the division rival Yankees and five of six total on the season. After another loss on Sunday to conclude the "first half", Boston sits at dead even with many question marks surrounding the second half of the season.

This team has easily been the most inconsistent I've watched in years. Maybe it's sad to say, but the days of consistent losing were perhaps better because you knew what to expect on a given night. Since the '04 and '07 seasons though, that kind of season is unacceptable and rightly so.

In a Market like Boston, with a payroll that's higher than any other not named the Yankees, expectations are high and that's the understatement of the decade. People expect to win here and anything other than a playoff push is considered an utter disaster. At the mid-point, this group defines the phrase and the question marks in the second half run aplenty.

Can Jon Lester, whose consistency has been coveted by the Red Sox since he came onto the scene, regain his form and give the team a chance to win every time he goes out like they have grown accustomed to? If not, expect the Sox to remain a mediocre team.

Josh Beckett has recently battled a shoulder issue and he looked horrendous last time out. Can he battle through the season and give a quality start every fifth day? He's been good at times, but others he's looked nothing more than a fifth starter on a .500 team.

When Jacoby Ellsbury finally returns to action, after being sidelined since April 13, can he provide the offense a much-needed spark or will the time away from the game prove to be an obstacle that takes time to work through? He's a vital part of any chance this team has of re-grouping and chasing down the Yankees, but he as well, is a question mark at this point.

The questions keep coming, seemingly never-ending with this team. Carl Crawford admitted his elbow could "blow out" at any time. Does that make you comfortable that he can get back this season and give the Red Sox some return on that disaster of a contract?

Clay Buchholz is recovering from gastrointestinal bleeding and is expected to resume after the break. Will he be the guy pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA when he returns? Or the guy that takes forever to get warm and in the meantime allows nine runs per nine innings?

What about that other vital part of the team? The guy named Dustin Pedroia, the spark plug for the offense. From a team noted for downplaying injuries, one has to wonder just how severe this thumb thing is, and how long it will keep one of the best defensive second baseman sidelined.

Are you catching my drift here? This team is much worse off now than they were heading into the season with September fresh on the mind. The second half is like a visually impaired person piecing together a puzzle. The pieces must fall exactly into place or there's no hope of figuring out the entire thing.

I still have hope, only because that's what fans do, but it isn't exactly an overwhelming sense that things will go right. If they do, I can say I told you so, and if they don't, I can pride myself on having believed until the end. This season, that may be the only win-win.
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