Boston Sportswriters Declare the Season Over, So That’s It I Guess

– Shane Carley –

Here are some headlines from various Boston publications in the last several days:

WEEI: Why Red Sox fans should already be in panic mode

Boston Globe: Time to be concerned

Boston Globe: Panic button time for Bobby V., Red Sox

Boston Herald: Sox setting new standards in bizarre failure

CSN New England: Felger: Bard should “demand” to close

And surely no collection of sky-is-falling Boston panic-writing ninny-isms could be complete without drinking deep from the Dan Shaughnessey flask of awfulness:

“[H]ow many Titanic analogies will you read if these Sox come home something like 1-5 for their Friday-the-13th Fenway opener two days before the 100th anniversary of the demise of the White Star Line ship?” — Dan Shaughnessey

It is the personal opinion of this Red Sox blog that Dan Shaughnessey is an embarrassment to the city of Boston. In fact, if you are a regular Dan Shaughnessey reader, please stop reading this immediately. I don’t want you reading my writing anymore. Instead, I need you to do me a favor: take your thumbs, and jam them into your eyeballs. In doing so, you will learn as much about the Red Sox as you would reading any Dan Shaughnessey column.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I need the rest of you to do something else for me: take a deep breath. Inhale. Hold it. Exhale. And repeat after me:

It’s only three games. It’s only three games. It’s only three games.

The Sox didn’t look good against the Tigers. It took the offense a couple of games to warm up, and the bullpen has confirmed the worst fears of fans. Although, if you think about it, the bullpen has been sort of incredible. Aceves and Melancon together blew two saves in a single game: that’s an almost impressive level of ineptitude, and something we’re not likely to see again anytime soon (knock on wood).

Yes, when Aceves managed to blow a three run lead in a mere three batters yesterday, I was ready to write a nice, smug blog post about how I told you all Melancon should have been closing. Then, of course, Melancon did his best to one-up Aceves by giving up an actual walk-off. Suffice it to say, the Sox bullpen has not had the best week. Melancon is currently rocking an ERA of 36.00, which, astoundingly is not even the worst on the team. That is because the ERA of Alfredo Aceves, Bobby V’s chosen closer, is currently INFINITY, as he has thus far this season failed to record so much as a single out.

But three games do not a season make, and those numbers will come down. Melancon and Aceves will not finish the year with numbers that poor, and once they finish settling in things should look up.  For all the doom and gloom about this team, people forget the sheer amount of talent on it. Aceves and Melancon are not bad pitchers–anyone who says otherwise is a fool. And if you accept that they are both good pitchers, then you also must accept that they will pitch better than this as the season progresses. Aceves did not expect to be closer. Melancon has not settled in. Let’s give them time before we start clamoring for Bard at closer and disrupting the team’s already shaky rotation even further.

Now, on to other matters:

Bobby V, Troll Genius: “Our guys played a hell of a game.” Translation: “Seriously, two blown saves in one game? Is that–how is that even possible?”

Report from the Ryan Sweeney Bandwagon: Sweeney has started the season batting .455 (5/11). Get ready to love Ryan Sweeney way more than you love Carl Crawford! Oh, wait.

The Red Sox Thumb Epidemic Continues to Sweep the Country: Houston has officially placed Jed Lowrie, my old favorite utility man, on the DL with a thumb injury. Between Bailey, Beckett, and now Lowrie, it seems that even leaving Boston cannot protect players from this terrifying condition.

From the Slow Start Department: Youkilis: .000; Cody Ross: .111; Jacoby Ellsbury: .154 (not exactly what the Sox are looking for from their leadoff man, prompting Bobby V to give Nick Punto a shot in the leadoff spot on Sunday).

Party Like It’s 2007: Amid all the negatives, one overlooked fact is that David Ortiz has actually started the season on a solid pace. In the first three games he’s hitting over .400 and has a pair of doubles to his name.  Anyone who remembers David Ortiz’s absolutely awful Aprils in two of the last three seasons should appreciate that a productive Ortiz is a huge boost for the team’s offense early in the year.

The Week Ahead:

The Sox will be glad to head out of Detroit (even though, I know, it means heading up to CANADA). They’ll face the Blue Jays for three games, followed by an off day, then the home opening series against the Rays. Let’s take a look at the probable pitching matchups:

4/9: Boston (Doubront) @ Toronto (Alvarez)
4/10: Boston (Bard) @ Toronto (Drabek)
4/11: Boston (Lester) @ Toronto (Romero)
4/13: Tampa Bay (Price) @ Boston (Beckett)
4/14: Tampa Bay (Hellickson) @ Boston (Buchholz)
4/15: Tampa Bay (Moore) @ Boston (Doubront)

Today and tomorrow will tell us a lot about this team. Doubront and Bard’s first starts will be nerve racking affairs. Doubront looked solid in spring training (but then again, so did Buchholz) and has been up from Pawtucket for periodic spot starts during his time with the team. Fans should have at least a general idea what to expect from him. Bard is a total X factor. We’ve seen his stuff, but we don’t know how he’ll perform as a starter. Will he blow batters away or get knocked around?

Consider me a believer. I think the Sox will get back on track in Toronto and win at least two of the three games. Lester vs. Romero should be a hell of a matchup between hard throwing lefties. It’s a day game, so if you’re lucky enough to be able to listen at work, do so. Tampa Bay will be a more difficult matchup.  The team has started on an absolute tear, sweeping the Yankees, and the pitching matchups inarguably favor the Rays. I’ll uneasily predict Buchholz to shake off the rust and get back on track, and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to pick up a win during Doubront’s start. Count me out on Josh Beckett. I won’t be putting any money on his starts this season.

Fearless Prediction for the Week: 3-3.

Follow the author on Twitter at @Rescue_Shane

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