Monday, August 2, 2010

Have Faith in the Sox-But What Else is New?

With the Sox 6.5 games out of first as of today, the Sox will need a boost to get back into contention for a playoff spot in baseball’s toughest division, the American League East. The critics jumped all over the Sox for their lack of action at the trade deadline, calling it a “buzzkill” and predicting the Sox will go home early this year. But what these pundits haven’t analyzed is the potential already in the roster.

Even with Josh Beckett on the DL for two months, catcher Jason Varitex and second baseman Dustin Pedroia out for a broken foot, third baseman Mike Lowell out with hip problems and outfielder Jacoby Ellsburry on the DL for rib complications, the Sox have managed to pull off a .571 winning percentage. With so many usual starters injured, the Sox are beginning to look a little like the Mets, but only on the surface. With Josh Beckett’s return amounting into a 7-3 win on July 23rd, the Sox swept the Angels to finish off the trip. Beckett is the man that brings the Sox rotation from solid to feared. As for the rest of the starters, Clay Buchholz has been holding his own in Beckett’s absence with an 11-5 record. His ERA (Earned Run Average) is 2.68, 2nd best in the AL. John Lackey has been solid in his starts following the break, and Jon Lester is 2nd in the AL for strikeouts, with 150.

As for the rest of the defense, Pedroia is beginning to run and field after a scan showing significant healing in his foot. Varitek is now off his crutches and beginning activity again as well. Ellsbury will be playing a few more games in Triple-A Pawtuckett on his rehab assignment, and should be back in the Sox lineup soon. I can’t wait to see Ellsbury back in the field, reminding the rest of the league that the Sox still have promise and excitement in this young player, with speed not often found in the AL.

Besides the re-emerging injured players, several Sox rookies could bring that missing bit of energy needed to push the Sox ahead. Outfielder Ryan Kalish made his debut on Saturday against Detroit, with an RBI and another single. Kalish, who batted .294 in the minors this year, should be a significant improvement from Jeremy Hermida. Remember Daniel Nava, the 2nd player ever to hit a grand slam with his first pitch in the majors? He’s been called back up to replace Mike Cameron, and hopefully he has a few more homers in store.

With all of this re-emerging potential for the Sox, the AL East could see a third powerhouse fighting for 1st. Starting Friday, the Sox will play the Yanks and the Rays-the two teams ahead of them-back to back. Before the end of the season, the Sox will have 16 chances against these two teams, including a home series against the Yanks to end the season, well, at least the regular season. The Sox certainly have the time to reassert themselves for a heated Wild Card or Division race. They may be down, but they’re not out.

No comments: