In a season of perpetual disappointment, the Red Sox chose the worst possible time to embark on a long losing streak. Just as momentum was building, and fans began to see a glimmer of light, Boston lost two of three to New York prior to the All-Star Game, before stumbling to five straight defeats to start the second half.
All told, John Farell’s hapless team has lost six consecutive games, falling back to 42-52, ten games adrift of the division-leading Yankees. Cautiously optimistic just two weeks ago, the Red Sox now have the worst record in the American League. This latest slump may be terminal.
The $166m Sox have been outscored 29-7 in their last five games. In fact, Boston’s -66 run differential on the season is third-worst in baseball, behind only the woeful Phillies and spluttering White Sox. Such a stat is emblematic of the Red Sox’ struggles, and obviously descriptive of a painfully unbalanced baseball team.
However, at this point, it’s difficult to see Ben Cherington making any moves to improve his lopsided roster. According to Fangraphs, the Red Sox have just a 2.1% chance of winning the AL East, while the likelihood of securing a Wildcard spot rests at 5.7%. For a front office that adores statistical analysis, those are particularly damning numbers. And, no matter how frustrated Red Sox Nation becomes, this hierarchy simply won’t mortgage the future to acquire a player who, at best, will enhance their chances of reaching a sudden-death Wildcard playoff from practically impossible to not gonna happen.
Now, the more likely scenario is the Red Sox selling off any excess big league pieces. At this point, Boston can only hope to retool and begin planning for 2016. Despite chronic batting average problems, Mike Napoli may interest a team hungry for power. Similarly, Shane Victorino may pique the interest of a contender searching for speed and experience atop its batting order. Even Koji Uehara may be dangled, tempting innumerable teams looking for bullpen help.
In the bigger picture, perhaps moving these ageing players would be beneficial to the Red Sox, who could finally grant extended playing time to Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr and Allen Craig, evaluating once and for all what those players actually are, and where they actually fit moving forward.
Yet, even this may be troublesome. It remains to be seen whether Ben Cherington has the energy and wherewithal to blow up his roster for the third time in four seasons as Red Sox GM. More to the point, will John Henry allow him to do so, and risk the crown jewel of his business empire becoming synonymous with failure, false dawns and fire sales?
Regardless of the next step, the Red Sox once again find themselves in a sorry state. Once again, this team appears dead before August has even arrived. And, amid an ocean of statistics and records speaking to this team’s wide-reaching ineptitude, that may be the most resounding reality of all.