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Questions to Consider

July 16, 2012

Was yesterday’s game against the Rays a must win for the Red Sox?

Yes.  Some people may think I’m crazy for saying that game 89 was a “must win,” but it was, because it was imperative for the Red Sox to start the second half of the season on a high note.  It set the tone and will hopefully help us build momentum. It’s all about momentum.  Mark my words; if we do make the playoffs, we could very well look back on this game and say, “that is where they turned the corner.”

If the Red Sox make the playoffs, will it be as a wildcard or as the division winner?

I don’t care.  Let’s just make the playoffs.  Of course, with the addition of the second wildcard, winning the division has become much more important, but beggars can’t be choosers (this should be our slogan for the season).  We will take what we can get.  Once you’re in, anything can happen, just ask the Giants (my NY Football Giants, that is, or the Packers from 2010).  Plus, if we do make the playoffs, that means the pitching must have gotten better, and, if that is the case, then I’d like our chances in a one game playoff.

Why can’t we pitch in the 1st inning?

Who knows! I’m not a pitching coach, so I am not qualified to answer this question. However, our pitching coach and manager, who are qualified, don’t seem to have an answer or the right answer, so I’ll venture a guess. It’s mental. These guys are professionals. They didn’t get called up yesterday. They know what they need to do in order to prepare for a game. It’s in their heads. Everyday they face the same question, “What’s the problem in the 1st inning?” That right there is the problem. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and we need to shake it. Probably the best way to do that is to stop talking about it. So moving right along…

Who should start in left: Crawford or Nava?

It’s the 142 Million Dollar Question.  Again, I may be crazy, but I think we should stick with Nava.  He’s earned the right to play in the big leagues with this club.

I do admire Carl for putting the team first, but I think his plan is going to back fire.  He wants to be the hero and prove that he is “worth” the money, but the risk doesn’t outweigh the reward.  If Carl doesn’t play well, which seems more than likely given what we know about his injuries, then he will only end up reinforcing the argument that he’s overrated.  Even worse, he could hurt himself further and affect his ability to play next season.

Getting back to Nava, his stats are better than Crawford’s (from 2011).  In clutch moments, he has come up big, for instance, he hit the go-ahead (winning) home run in yesterdays “must win.”  And, he hit a grand slam on his first at bat. I mean what does a guy have to do?

Seriously though, this isn’t about talent.  It is about money.  We wouldn’t be having this conversation if the Red Sox weren’t paying Crawford $20 million this year.  The Sox are just as anxious as Crawford is to prove that signing him to that huge contract wasn’t a huge mistake.  Benching, demoting or, worse, trading Nava would be.  Let’s not compound the mistakes, especially with our injury prone outfield.  Keep Nava at all costs.  The motivation may even help Crawford.

Should the Sox try to make some moves before the trade deadline?

Ben Cherington recently said on WEEI, “If we play to our capability with the guys we have here our hope is we don’t have to make a lot of moves.”

That’s it in a nutshell, the Red Sox, especially our starting pitchers, are not playing to their best.  On paper, this team is good, and that leaves the front office damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  There is no right answer for this team, no obvious fix for what we need with who’s out there and what we are willing to pay.  If anything big goes down, I guarantee we aren’t going to like the price (Nava, Shoppach, or even Jon Lester).  I wouldn’t rule out anything.  After all, this is the team that traded Nomar Garciaparra and Kevin Youkilis (Welcome Home Youk).

At the end of the day, there is no one trade or one player that is going to be the magic fix.  The key to making the playoffs is exactly what Cherington alluded to: our current players need to start playing to their capabilities.  If that were to happen, then there is no telling what this team could do.  With that in mind…

Will the Red Sox make the playoffs?

I may be the only person left on this planet that thinks that they have a chance and I’m wavering.  If there is anyone else, please let me know.   Email me, tweet me, anything, just let me know that you’re out there.

I was watching ESPN on Friday, I think, and I can’t remember who it was, maybe Karl Ravech and John Kruk or someone else from Baseball Tonight team, regardless of who it was and which show or network it was on, I remember the numbers: one analyst gave the Red Sox a 13% chance and the other one gave us a 10% chance of making the playoffs.  The number 13 stuck out, I think they were trying to be funny.  While it is sort of funny, it is not a lot of faith.  What do they know that we don’t, or am I in denial?  The latter is certainly possible.  However, considering that we are about to be almost 100% healthy (knock on wood), I think if the offense gets on a role, the starting pitching staff may follow suit.  Momentum breads confidence.  Another reason why winning a series, like the one against the Rays, becomes so important in the second half.

But you want a number, don’t you?  Okay, let’s say, a cautiously optimistic 51% chance that the Red Sox pull this out.  This team has talent, and I have to believe that they are slightly more likely to find it than not.  Even if they do, will it be in time?   That, Red Sox Nation, is another question for another day.

If you have questions you would like me to answer in an upcoming post, please send them via email or tweet.

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