Boston Red Sox Analysis: Red Sox fail to shake off their demons from the 2011 season
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 20:09
The Boston Red Sox were predicted by Sports Illustrated in March to finish the 2012 Major League Baseball season with a 91-71 record and a playoff berth.
Fast-forward six months. The Red Sox are 63-76 and sit 14.5 games back of the second wild card slot.
This road to infamy can be traced back to Sept. 28 of last year. Boston lost the decisive final game of the year to the Baltimore Orioles, surrendering the season on an errant throw from left field by now-departed outfielder Carl Crawford.
The loss concluded an astounding month for the Red Sox, who had held a double-digit lead on the Rays for the wild card. And it led to widespread changes that would completely reshape the franchise.
General Manager Theo Epstein escaped from the bedlam that soon descended upon Yawkey Way. He fled to rejuvenate a sagging Chicago Cubs franchise.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona was thrown into the circus as well. He was fired from his position in November, and many baseball analysts questioned the decision.
The logic was this: Francona lost control of his clubhouse. Reports soon surfaced that Francona allowed players to drink beer and eat chicken wings in the clubhouse, causing quite a controversy both among journalists and fans of the team.
The Red Sox looked to bring a new, fresh face into the manager’s seat. Enter Bobby Valentine.
All was then quiet until spring training began. The fallout from a fractured clubhouse was still apparent. Players complained of overly rigorous workouts, and as the training season progressed, the more the team and Valentine continued to clash.
Valentine then arguably committed his first managerial blunder on April 15, which was just nine games into the season. He questioned the devotion of Red Sox third baseman and fan favorite Kevin Youkilis. The tension between the two continued, and after an untenable situation arose, Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 25. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks manned the hot corner, only strengthening the rift between Valentine and his team.
The Red Sox continued to have problems both on and off the field, struggling to gain any consistency. It seemed as if Boston could not escape the cellar. Injuries to star players such as Crawford and pitcher Josh Beckett exacerbated the situation, but overall, the Red Sox ship was sinking.
Things came to a low point on Aug. 25. The Red Sox, in the largest salary dump in MLB history, shipped off Crawford, Beckett, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and utility infielder Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In total, $261.5 million dollars in contracts were traded.
In return, the Red Sox acquired first baseman James Loney and a handful of AA prospects, including pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allan Webster.
The Red Sox have struggled and have given up all hope for 2012. It is a sad sight to witness. Boston still can’t shake the demons of 2011 off its shoulders.
Boston is now tied for last place in the division. Where do they go from here?
The Red Sox are going to need to make wiser investments.
Boston General Manager Ben Cherington could perhaps find some talent in a free agent class headlined by outfielder Josh Hamilton and pitcher Zack Greinke, but for this season, all hope is lost.
The mindset is no longer 2012 or bust.
Boston has been transformed from a contender to a rebuilding project in just one short year.