As we sit 17.5 games out of first place and 13 games out of a Wild Card berth, it's probably not too early to do a post-mortem on your 2014 Carmine Hose. Here are the Top Five Reasons The Red Sox Stink In 2014:
#5: Key Injuries. Actually, it's really just one key injury—to RF Shane Victorino. The Flyin' Hawaiian has played in exactly 30 games this year, hitting .268 with 2 HRs and 12 RBIs. Last year, despite nagging injuries, he suited up for 122 games, hitting .294 with 15 HRs and 61 RBIs. Missing him, Boston has had to mix-and-match a bevy of OFs—and only Brock Holt has been a success (and half the time he's playing some other position on the field anyway).
#4: The Buchholz Implosion. In need of a bounce-back year from Clay Buchholz, what the Red Sox got was a trounce-back year. The Texas righty has so far posted a 5-8 record and a 5.94 ERA. After performing as a Cy Young favorite in the early stages of 2013, Buchholz was chronically injured for a big chunk of the season, and performed at a mediocre level in October (4.25 ERA in 4 starts). He's even worse this year. The question is: 'Are we now seeing the real Clay Buchholz'?
#3: Over-Reliance On 'The Kids'. The Red Sox came into the 2014 season with a bit of a 'Pollyanna' attitude toward their younger players—tossing them right into the mix. Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. (after The Great Grady Sizemore Experiment failed), and Will Middlebrooks have not panned out as reliable starters. It also makes you wonder if the Red Sox organization is again over-valuing its "top" prospects.
#2: Underestimating The Loss Of Jacoby Ellsbury. While Ellsbury is not exactly an MVP candidate for The Bronx Embalmers, he is having a decent year so far (.276, 10 HRs, 54 RBIs, 34 SBs). More importantly, Boston lost a dependable, productive lead-off hitter. And, while Brock Holt eventually filled that void, he's not a permanent top-of-the-order solution. Ellsbury's dynamism is gone forever and it hurt this team badly in 2014.
#1: Raiders Of The Lost Offense. This could pretty much be the all-encompassing single reason for this awful season. The Red Sox are on pace to score only 621 runs this year—232 fewer than they scored last year. Averaging 3.8 runs per game was never going to get them a chance at back-to-back World Series Championships. For 2015, they need to stack their lineup with 3-4-5 hitters that can all go yard. You can even see the difference this year when they feature Ortiz-Cespedes-Napoli in those spots. Despite what the GeekHeads say, scoring more runs than your opponent is what wins ballgames.