Thursday, June 14, 2007

Downright Offensive

Well, at least Terry Francona is showing signs that he knows the offense is struggling. In the first game against the Rockies Tuesday night, he finally dropped Julio "Mario Mendoza" Lugo to the 9th spot in the lineup and elevated Dustin Pedroia to hit leadoff. Of course, Terry's also got to think about the other two black holes in the lineup - Coco Crisp and J.D. Drew. Together, these three have become automatic outs.

Crisp has never materialized into the player we thought we were getting, and Lugo has been absolutely, positively brutal - both in the field and at the dish. It's makes Theo's Shortstop Roulette game that much more maddening when you see what Orlando Cabrera is doing in Anaheim, what Edgar Renteria is doing in Atlanta, and even what Alex Gonzalez is doing for Cincinnati. Gonzalez is hitting .260 with a .305 OBP, 11 HRs, 28 RBIs, and 32 runs. Lugo is hitting .211 with a paltry .270 OBP, 4 HRs, 34 RBIs, and 30 runs. His one saving grace has been his adeptness on the basepaths with 18 SBs. And Drew? I'm no hitting expert, but it looks like he's swinging off his tippy-toes. If I had a dollar for every top-spin groundout to second or first, I'd be a happy man. We can only hope that eventually the law of baseball averages catches up with J.D., and we see the numbers we thought we'd see.

These three musketeers have been scuffling all season, and their woes become that much more frustrating when the whole team is in a slump, which is certainly the case right now. Since that Sunday night loss on June 3rd to the Yankees, the Sox have averaged just under 3 runs per game, and that includes the 10-run anomaly in the second Arizona game. How much of an anomaly was that game? Drew hit 2 HRs and drove in 7!

Remember right before the Yankees series to start June when we had visions of going 16 1/2 games up on the Bombers with a sweep? Foolish, of course. The Sox' pitching has held up reasonably well, but the offensive quagmire has resulted in five full games being shaved off the lead. The Yankees since that series have been white-hot, beating up on lower level teams like Chicago and Pittsburgh. A-Rod and Abreu have been scorching the cowhide.

In the interest of full disclosure, we should also make mention of the underperformance of one Manuel Aristides Ramirez. The paper had a graphic this morning showing that with 8 HR's on June 13th, it's his lowest HR output at this point in his career. Glass is half full says, 'good, that means there's a lot more to come.' Glass is half-empty wonders if Manny's banged up.

At any rate, they better get their act together quickly. Red Sox Nation isn't in panic mode just yet, but it does feel like we're looking in our rearview mirrors, waiting for something bad to happen - like maybe have a military chopper firing on us.

The Sox close out their series against the Rockies tonight, and here's hoping Josh Beckett can shut down the bats. After that, the circus comes to town in the form of the San Francisco Giants and Big Head Barry. I'll have a special post up tomorrow with a suggestion on how Barry could buff up his image juuuuust a little bit. Needless to say, it will be very interesting to see how Bonds is treated by the Fenway Faithful.

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