To put how bad things are for the Sox right now into perspective, check out this lineup:
There are two — that’s right, two — position players fielding the positions they played on Opening Day: Coco Crisp and Mike Lowell. The starting shortstop began the season as a utility infielder. The DH is the team’s light-hitting second baseman. The cleanup man and left fielder is Kevin Youkilis, who’s best known for taking a lot of walks. The right fielder was a disappointment and the catcher a has-been; both were picked up through waiver trades. Today is the first baseman’s first day in a Red Sox uniform; so far this year, he’s been released by the Tigers and asked for his release from the Yankees Triple-A affiliate. (When the Globe announced the signing of Pena, the headline — no joke — read “Former NU star is added to the mix.”) Oh, and the starting pitcher? The starting pitcher started the year in the minors, and is only playing today because Jon Lester, who also started the year in the minors, is now on the DL.
I could go on. Alright, fine: I’ll go on. For the first time since October 2004 (when the Sox had already clinched a playoff spot), neither Manny Ramirez or David Ortiz is in the starting lineup. On Opening Day, the starting 9 had a collected 1186 home runs; today’s lineup, even adding on five extra months, has hit 450 less round trippers. The Opening Day lineup, even with all that time on the DL, has 147 homers on the season; the team has 169, good for the sixth best in baseball. Today’s lineup has 59, good for…last. The 3-6 hitters — the meat of the order — have a combined 44 home runs on the year. (There are 20 players with more than 30 HRs so far this season.)
You still want more, you sick little masochist? Fine. Hinske’s playing right field because the team’s right fielder and its backup right fielder are injured. Lopez is catching because the team’s catcher and its backup catcher are injured. Gabbard is pitching because Tim Wakefield and Jon Lester are both on the DL (to say nothing of Matt Clement). The starting shortstop is on the DL. The DH was hospitalized for exhaustion. The left fielder’s has a knee so balky he can’t slide…or even run.
Yeah…I don’t think Bobby Abreu would have been the tonic for what ails this club. Hell, I don’t even know if Abreu and Roy Oswalt would have been enough. Sometimes everything goes your way. Sometimes it don’t. This is one of those times when it don’t. But this wheel will come back around. In the meantime, look for something good and uplifting to read (like, say — shameless plug alert — a New York Times bestseller about a happier, simpler time). Or try to figure out how to use your pasts (or, rather, my past) as a rock critic to come up with inscrutable headlines to blog posts. (Blog posts!) Or just read through a pile of magazines. Or look something good…oh, wait. I already tried that.
(I do believe I’ve had enough: it’s 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth and ESPN2 just showed a Red Sox fan with a bag over his head. I’m calling it a night. Tune in tomorrow for updates on this month’s Wired and this week’s New Yorker.)