I want to thank the Texas Rangers.
In the Opening Series of the 2011 season the Rangers proved my point about the weakness in the Boston Red Sox starting rotation. The Rangers outscored the Red Sox 26-11 this weekend in what can now be called the Arlington Annihilation.
Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz combined to give up 18 earned runs on 21 hits and five walks in only 15 1/3 innings. That is an ERA of 10.57 and walks plus hits to innings pitched ratio (WHIP) of 1.70.
So the Red Sox front office might want to hold off on printing those World Series tickets for a few months. General manager Theo Epstein might want to stop drafting that Executive of the Year acceptance speech.
It looks a little bleak in Beantown this weekend.
And the funny thing is their two weakest links in the rotation — Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka — have not even thrown a pitch yet.
Just before Opening Day I wrote a post on this blog on how I felt that there was no real dominant starting rotation in the American League East. I basically pointed out that the Red Sox and the Yankees both had some major question marks to deal with in 2011.
As expected, I heard from some my dear friends in Red Sox Nation who felt compelled to put me in my place. You do not dare throw shades of gray over their rose-colored glasses. I mean, after all, they have Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Just declare the season over and give the Red Sox the championship trophy now.
Why bother playing out the inevitable, right?
But this weekend really proved my point. The Red Sox have no difficulty handling themselves when they are playing within the East. They do just fine there.
They struggle to beat the teams they should beat outside the division. So they occasionally get swept in Kansas City and Seattle. Jonathan Papelbon blows his customary eight saves a year and the next thing you know the Red Sox are a wild card.
Manager Terry Francona has been preaching this to his team for years and the Red Sox have a hard time rectifying the problem. Now that the Rangers have left the Red Sox starting staff in tatters they might listen to Francona and heed his advice.
I am not going to say the Yankees have the better pitching staff. Their starters do have weaknesses that can be exploited. At the same time, I think the same thing about the Red Sox starters.
Lester is habitually slow starter. Lackey is proving that he’s gotten by more on his guile and competitiveness than he did on actual talent. Buchholz shows promise but needs to follow it up with another good season.
Beckett is coming off a serious back injury and those kind of injuries do not really go away. You have to monitor them and constantly keep an eye on them. After a very poor spring training, Beckett has a lot to prove in 2011.
At age 30, is Beckett finally paying for throwing all those innings for the Marlins at a young age? Will he get his velocity back? Can his back hold up to 200 innings?
Dice-K is an enigma wrapped within a anomaly. Japanese pitchers are used to a different routine and different way of doing things. Matsuzaka has had hard time letting go of how he wants to do things.
He insists on pitching backwards. He will walk the bases loaded before he will throw a fastball to challenge a hitter. It is mind-numbing to watch. Francona would have lost all his hair if he had any to lose.
The Red Sox simply do not know what to expect from their Japanese “star.” Maybe comet would be a better term. It certainly looks likes the tail of the comet is indicating a flame-out.
Add to all this the loss of pitching coach John Farrell, who decided to try his hand at managing the Toronto Blue Jays. Curt Young is not a bad replacement but Farrell had a close relationship with these starters.
Young has his work cut out for him working with these egos and finding the keys to open the lock on each ones soul may be a daunting task. Especially prima donnas like Beckett and Papelbon.
The Red Sox now take their bruised egos off to Cleveland. There they might find an inferior team to beat up on before the begin their home schedule against the so-called Evil Empire. But these pitching woes are not going to disappear with a wave a magic wand or Red Sox Nation merely wishing it so.
It is going to take time and effort to make things better. Maybe now the Red Sox will understand that their opponents are not going to just let them win. They will have to win it for themselves.
The fact that the Yankees have a superior offense, defense, bullpen and bench is a troubling factor they will have to deal with. But they can compete and they will. They just have stop reading the papers and blogs that are telling them they are great.
They have to get on the field and prove it. So far, they have won nothing. And they will win nothing unless they put in the effort.