Now that everyone in Red Sox Nation has had about a week to digest what happened against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, I would just like to say one thing.
Relax, everything is going to be alright.
It’s amazing what happens when a team gets swept out of the playoffs. Everyone focuses on what is bad about the team, how the end is near, and how they are closer to a last place team than a first place team.
There is always some major overreacting going on between fans, media, and sometimes even the team itself. The bottom line is the Boston Red Sox lost to a better team. They lost to two pitchers (John Lackey and Jered Weaver) who weren’t going to lose to anyone in Game’s One and Two.
Did the Red Sox play their best this series? Absolutely not. But just because they were swept doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.
Being swept in a series is overrated. What’s the difference if you lose a series and win one game or no games? Tony LaRussa’s teams get swept out of the playoffs on a regular basis and his teams come back just fine.
Of course everyone will point to the last time the Red Sox were swept out of the playoffs. In 2005, the Red Sox were swept by the eventual World Series champions, the Chicago White Sox.
The next year, the Red Sox missed the playoffs.
That team still won 86 games and had Mark Loretta, Alex Gonzalez, Coco Crisp and a washed up Trot Nixon as regulars. Not exactly The Big Red Machine.
The 2010 Red Sox are already in better position than the 2006 version to succeed.
But before we get to 2010, let’s look at the big picture for the Red Sox in 2009…
The Red Sox won 95 games in 2009 with:
- A catcher up until July 31 who hit .209 and had a .390 slugging percentage.
- Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo, Nick Green, and Alex Gonzalez at shortstop. This murder’s row combined to hit .237 with 12 HR’s and a .658 OPS.
- No DH until July. David Ortiz didn’t join the club until after the All-Star break.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka, their No. 3 starter winning four games.
- John Smoltz and Brad Penny making a combined 32 starts and having a 6.97 ERA.
- Paul Byrd making seven starts.
To win 95 games and have that lack of production from some key positions, is pretty impressive. If you think about it, they were playing the first half of the season with a lineup with three replacement level players.
Now, I don’t want to paint everything as roses with the Red Sox. The Red Sox certainly have their issues moving forward.
They have an aging lineup, they are average at best defensively, thanks to Lars Anderson taking a step back in 2009, they don’t have any offensive prospects ready to step in and take over, and there are some health concerns with their starting rotation.
However, without a single free agent signing or trade, the Red Sox are already in better shape than the majority of the teams in the American League.
Just look at the landscape of the American League. The Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A’s, and Toronto Blue Jays are rebuilding.
The Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners are kind of middle of the pack teams, who, if they make a couple of moves can be contenders. The Detroit Tigers are aging faster than the Red Sox.
Then you have the Red Sox, along with the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the main contenders in the American League.
So without making a move the Red Sox are better on paper than the majority of the teams in the American League. And the Red Sox will make their moves this offseason.
They will get their SS, LF, backup catcher, and back of the rotation starter. If Epstein sees a weakness, he goes out and does his best to try to fix it. There is no arguing that and I am confident that he will improve the club during the Winter.
The Red Sox are well positioned to make another World Series run in 2010. Remember, as the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals taught us–all you need to do is get into the playoffs.
The rest is up to the baseball gods.
You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @theghostofmlg