Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports believes the Boston Red Sox can still win the AL East. In fact, he’s so serious he even laid out a simple, yet effective four-step program that is “key to the Red Sox revival” according to Rosenthal.
It’s interesting to note that Rosenthal believes Josh Beckett is the key to the Red Sox having any chance at the division and those hopes rest on his ability to remain healthy for the rest of the year. Rosenthal believes the Sox have talent on the roster, on the DL and in the minors, again, stating the obvious.
Three of the four pillars that Rosenthal lays out are also fairly obvious ones but worth discussing.
The first is put Daniel Bard back in the bullpen. While this sounds easy, it’s hard to consider disrupting a bullpen full of misfits and castoffs that have come together to form one of the most dominating in all of baseball. On countless nights the pen has saved crucial victories for the Sox and putting Bard back in there means someone is out of a job.
None the less, this is about winning and doing what’s best for the team, meaning Bard is better suited as a setup man versus the rotation. An interesting stat that Rosenthal points out is that the Sox are down to one lefty in the bullpen with Franklin Morales potentially spot starting in the absence of Beckett. Bard held lefties to a 0.593 OPS from 2010-11 according to Rosenthal.
Rosenthal’s second pillar is to trade Kevin Youkilis. Actually Rosenthal uses the word dump because he feels the Sox won’t get anything in return unless they add in younger players to sweeten the deal. Getting rid of Youkilis allows Will Middlebrooks to play full time at third which would then allow Adrian Gonzalez to play his natural position of first base.
With the plethora of outfielders slowly returning from injury, a Youkilis dump could be forced upon Ben Cherington to avoid a log jam of stars demanding to be played. It also allows manager Bobby Valentine to put the best possible lineup on the field every day, something that a struggling Youkilis does not do.
The third pillar and perhaps the most important to the Sox success is to trade for a starting pitcher. Thank you captain obvious. Rosenthal notes that the Sox are 12th in the AL when it comes to rotation ERA’s, with a dreadful 4.79. Pitching wins championships and right now the Red Sox don’t have the horsepower in their rotation to even flirt with the idea of playing in October.
Names like Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster come to mind as the most recent potential starters to acquire, but as Rosenthal points out the Sox will have an abundance of outfielders needing roster spots. Tie that in with some sought after prospects and a July deadline deal could be a possibility.
The final step in Rosenthal’s four-step program to the Red Sox success is patience. He notes the Yankees, who just had their ten game winning streak snapped, can’t play much better than they are right now. With roughly 100 games remaining in the season there is more than enough time to climb the ladder in the AL East and challenge the Evil Empire for the lead.
While I’m not counting out Tampa Bay or even Baltimore, the Yankees appear to have straightened things out with their pitching and are again the real deal. Meaning a division title for Boston goes through the Bronx.
As I said earlier, Rosenthal’s program isn’t anything creative. In fact it’s the cold hard truth. The problem now is to act upon the first three and make them happen, something that the on field players can’t control, so in the end this really should be called “Cherington’s four-step program to the Red Sox success.”