Thursday, July 19, 2007


Long before Lance Armstrong's yellow "Livestrong" bracelets, a popular inspirational bracelet among those of strong faith said simply WWJD - or 'what would Jesus do?' In the congregation known as Red Sox Nation (can't you picture Jackie Chiles saying that?) right now, the bracelet should say WWTD - for what will Theo do?

The Red Sox lost another game at home last night to a crappy team, and lo and behold, now have the New York Yankees breathing down their necks. While the Dollar Store Royals came into town and helped themselves to two of three from the Sox at Fenway, the Yankees have been silently cleaning up - winning 8 of their last 10. This morning, the lead stands at 7, six in the loss column.

Yes, the members of the Nation are worried but I was giving this whole situation some serious thought this morning and here's my take: this "scare" will help this ballclub, Theo will make a shades-of-2004 trading deadline move that improves the team, and - crazy as it sounds - we'll all be able to relax a little more. See, we can't co-exist with a double-digit lead in the AL East. Even though it felt comfortable at times - like maybe when we were 13 or 14 ahead of the Bombers - didn't you always think in the back of your cranium that this wasn't over? I never said to myself this division was ours because NOTHING comes easy to this team. Okay, you can argue that the World Series triumph over the deflated Cardinals was pretty easy, but only in hindsight. It was still typical Red Sox gut-churning baseball. Plus, the Yankees' lineup is just too damn good, and as I've mentioned before now they've got Clemens, Wang, Pettite, Mussina, and Hughes coming back. We knew this was going to turn into a race, and all's I'm saying is that's really the only way we know how to follow this team. The large lead never felt safe to me.

Anyway, we know that this team as currently constituted has some major flaws. Their record is horrible since late May, and the lineup just hasn't clicked on all cylinders all year long. And J.D. Drew is absolutely killing me with the topspin grounders to second and first. Love to see a stat from the Maniacal One on that. As I see it right now, the problems Theo and Co. need to address for the stretch run, in order, are 1) Drew, 2) Tavarez, 3) Wakefield.

Not sure what can be done about ol' J.D. but he has to be ranked as one of the biggest busts in MLB this year. The only thing nice I can say about the guy is that he plays an above-average right field. This team desperately needs a #5 bopper in the lineup, preferably an outfielder. The other flaws - Tavarez and Wakefield - could be resolved internally with Gabbard and Lester, but I don't think we can count on that. As always, it will be very interesting to see what Theo will do. Standing pat definitely will not do.

Battles of the Soxes tonight, as Chicago comes into town for four.

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