In part two of this five-part series, we take a look at the Boston Red Sox and their chances to reach the postseason.
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Seemingly everything. The Carl Crawford and John Lackey deals make Alex Rodriguez’s contract with the Yankees look like the Manhattan Island purchase by comparison. The Red Sox pitching staff is a mess. On again, off-again ace Josh Beckett has, so far, taken this year off, while formerly reliable Jon Lester cannot prevent opponents from scoring, even if those runs rarely come off the long ball. Clay Buchholz has been even worse. Alfredo Aceves, who was supposed to bring consistency to the pen, has simply tanked. Maybe the New York Yankees knew something when they let him leave after the 2010 season. Adrian Gonzalez, who last year almost carried Boston into the playoffs, is not hitting for power or average.
To win with their God-awful pitching, the Red Sox have been able to rely on many unlikely players in their lineup. David Ortiz is becoming an ageless wonder as he leads the team in home runs, RBI and average. Offseason acquisition Cody Ross has also brought home run power to the lineup, while catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is finally justifying the trade made for him with the Texas Rangers. They will get an important bat back when Jacoby Ellsbury eventually returns from his injury. Most importantly, Lester was dominant in his last start, not allowing a run and lasting seven innings, thereby keeping the damage Boston’s relief crew could do to a minimum.
The Red Sox hitting can give them a chance against the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, but they will need new relievers to close out those games. The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles pose less of a problem, but not much less, as these teams overpower any rotation Boston can wield this season.
The second wild card spot is within reach, if barely. On the bright side, they broke their World Series drought in 2004 when their team was nicknamed the idiots, and there new manager acts like a big one.