After almost two weeks of Spring Training action, the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox have looked a little rusty in their Grapefruit League games thus far. Through 11 games, the Sox boast an MLB worst 3-8 record and going into today’s match up vs. the NY Mets had lost 6 consecutive decisions.
Ok, so I know what you’re all thinking… it’s only spring training, so what! Right?
Although it’s certainly not time to start panicking, the early spring training woes are also not a good sign if history were to repeat itself. In 2004 and 2007, the Red Sox were the Grapefruit League Champions, and would go on to also win the World Series in both those years. In 2006, the Sox did not qualify for the playoffs, and finished 3rd in the AL East behind the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees. Why does that matter? In the 2006 Grapefruit League standings, the Red Sox finished with a total of only 9 wins, an MLB low for that spring.
Since last Wednesday, the Sox have lost all the games they have played, getting outscored 44 to 18 during that stretch.
Starting to get worried yet?
Three weeks ago the Red Sox pitching staff was talked up as the most dominant in the AL but some eyebrows are being raised by the efforts of the members during the spring. Josh Beckett was scratched from his start due to back spasms. Clay Buchholtz has looked like a Double-A pitcher at best, having trouble keeping the ball down in the zone. Dice-K Matsuzaka gave up a towering 3-run HR to Matt Kemp in yesterdays 4-0 loss to the LA Dodgers. One off-season goal Matsuzaka and then Red Sox had set for him to work on this year was to limit the long ball. He gave up 25 bombs last season, which was tied for 9th most in the American League.
At the plate, the team is averaging only 3.8 runs a game. Last year during the regular season, the Sox plated 5.4 runs a game. Besides David Ortiz who is currently batting .333, the meat of the Red Sox lineup is struggling. Manny Ramirez is hitting only .154, 2007 Rookie of the Year Dustin Pedroia is at .174, team captain Jason Varitek is at .200 and World Series MVP Mike Lowell is hitting only .235.
In three weeks the regular season will open for the Red Sox in Japan with a two game series vs. Oakland. Hopefully within that timeframe they can regain their championship form, and come into this year’s campaign with a legitimate shot at defending their title.
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