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2012 cup remains half-empty for Red Sox

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  July 12, 2012 07:15 PM

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Valentine (Getty).jpg

Lights, camera, in-action.

It's the big film hit of the summer, creating all the buzz. Quentin Valentino presents "Ballplayer: Mediocre - Jugador de Béisbol Mediocre" - The story of the 2012 Boston Red Sox. Not quite.

Bobby Valentine's hiring was touted by the Red Sox and their allies in State Run Media as the solution to all that ailed the team following the Hindenburg-esque close to 2011. He managed in Japan, he could dance, he invented the wrap. This man could do no wrong (or manage a championship team in this hemisphere - but those were just pesky details).

No pitching. No right-fielder. No shortstop. No depth. No problem. Bobby V. was here and that's all that mattered. Red Sox fans were blitzed with Bobby V. propaganda. There were some who knew that this team was going to succeed or fail based on what happened on the field. But for so many others, it was all about the manager.

Now Valentine is a movie mogul. "Ballplayer: Pelotero" has taken Brookline by storm. The documentary looks at 16-year-old baseball players who are trying to make the leap from the Dominican Republic to the majors in a not-so-flattering light. Not surprisingly, Valentine speaks glowingly of the film, especially in its ties to David Ortiz and to a "young No. 77 [Pedro Ciriaco] ... who happens to be from San Pedro de Macoris, where you will see the streets that he rode his bicycle on, where you will see the parks that he learned to play baseball in, where you will see the academy where he ran around trying to get the opportunity to be at Fenway Park where he is right now, five years later."

Unreal. Beyond the .500 record, there have been reports of clubhouse strife and mutiny on the coaching staff. At least Valentine's movie sounds interesting. Not too concerned about where the Red Sox came from. Much more concerned about where they are going. If it ups Ciriaco's trade value, put the movie on Netflix.

“It’s not anyone acting,” Valentine told the New York Post. The same can be said for the 2012 Red Sox. They are reality TV at its worst, going from one "situation" to another. Wonder how many rounds Josh "Snooki" Beckett has squeezed in during the All-Star Break - especially with the team starting up Act II in Florida.

The Red Sox resume hostilities Friday in St. Petersburg. 43-43. Perfectly average. They join the Blue Jays in looking up at the rest of American League East. There are 16 teams in the majors with a better record than the Red Sox - including the New York Mets. Even worse, the Red Sox trail the Rays, Orioles, Indians and Tigers and are tied with the Blue Jays and A's for the second wildcard in the American League.

Theo Epstein says he was never given any room - apparently thanks to people like me - to provide the Red Sox with that needed bridge year. Boston had a Tobin Bridge Year in 2011. Well, 2012 has become the Lillibridge Year as the once-mighty-Red Sox have careened down the road to apathy, obscurity and last-place ties. Check some of the numbers on the Red Sox roster - 77, 50, 64, 66, 61 - and it looks the Patriots offensive line heading into Day 1 of training camp. The best story of the season thus far was Ciriaco's one-night stand against Yankees and the fact that @realOBF is partly responsible for Jenny Dell's new nickname:

The big question is whether or not general manager Ben Cherington should buy or sell at the trade deadline. Here's my advice:

"Trading Places" is exactly what the Red Sox and this weekend's opponent - the Rays - have done in the past five years.

Several thousand Red Sox fans will join this correspondent at Tropicana Field this weekend to see their favorite baseball team make its last stand of the season in the middle of July. Red Sox games in St. Petersburg used to be stress-free fun. I was on hand in 2000 when Pedro Martinez began the game by nailing Gerald Williams, triggered a brawl and then rolled through 24 straight batters before giving up a double to John Flaherty in the ninth. We used to chant "Win 70 games!" whenever the Devil Rays scored a run, reminding them of their obscurity. And the 2007 World Series champions clinched their playoff berth in St. Pete thanks to a three-run ninth inning and home runs by Jason Varitek and Julio Lugo with my son and I watching from the third-base stands.

The bottom fell out in 2008. The Red Sox came to town on June 30 just a half-game out. B.J. Upton led off the series for Tampa Bay with a first-pitch home run off the late Justin Masterson and the Red Sox promptly got swept. Boston finished with the wild-card and had to play Game 7 of the ALCS not at Fenway Park. Witnessed all four games of that series at the Trop in person. It did not end well.

The Rays used young starting pitching and bullpen anchored by veteran re-treads and David Price to win the pennant that season. Now the Red Sox fans who head to the Trop face the embarrassment of rooting for a team that has finished behind the Rays three of the past four seasons.

Just another reason why when it comes to the Red Sox - everyone (except Jenny) should be on the table - including Don and Jerry. There are no ballplayers on this roster who could be deemed essential to a World Series champion in 2012. That might have been the case with Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Josh Beckett five years ago. Not so, today. There is no longer a core to build upon at 4 Yawkey Way. The Red Sox made the mistake of waiting until Kevin Youkilis was worth less than a ticket to Section 5 before they dealt him to the impending-AL Central champion White Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury returns to the lineup tonight for the first time since April 14 so the Ryan Sweeney trade rumors are heading up. That's the problem right there. The Jacoby Ellsbury rumors should be heating up. Again, buy low, sell high. Why do the Red Sox always make this so complicated?

Carl Crawford is projected to return Monday against Youkilis and the White Sox. Crawford was booed by the Pawtucket crowd Thursday night for not running out of the batter's box on a ball that fell in for a hit. He said he''ll use that for new-found motivation. Anything to keep him on his toes.

The plight of the Red Sox is no surprise. It's easy to blame injuries for the team's lack of success - just ask Ortiz and Ray Allen. Certainly, the return of Ellsbury and Crawford is reason for hope. But the biggest problem with this Red Sox team has not changed since since last September - craptacular starting pitching. The starters have taken underachievement to atrocious levels. Whenever a starting pitcher makes it into eighth with a lead, Red Sox Nation is ready to gas up the Duck Boats. Four games against the Yankees - 14 runs in the first inning. The finger of blame needs to point no further than Beckett (4-7, 4.43 ERA) and Jon Lester (5-6, 4.49 ERA). Beckett is always hurt. He has not pitched into the seventh inning for a month. Lester took a mind-boggling 40 pitches to record four outs aginast the AL East leaders last weekend. Clay Buchholz had a solid run before his recent tummy troubles. He'll be pitching again Saturday night at the Trop in the middle of the Red Sox latest "must-win" crucial series. Dice-K? He's got a 6.65 ERA in 23 innings. The DL might be welcomed relief.

The ace of the staff is Felix Doubront. Enough said.

Yes, Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the story for the 2012 Red Sox. Then the season began. Bobby V. tried to have an impact on the team. He either helped produce and/or was powerless to stop the move to push Daniel Bard out of the bullpen and into the rotation. We know how that turned out. He sided against Youkilis early. Mixed results there. Dustin Pedroia scolded his new boss and upper-management promptly sided with labor over middle-management. Youkilis' injuries and the play of Will Middlebrooks accelerated Youk's exit. And by the time it was time to deal him - Boston had to pay Chicago to take him off its hands. Personally, when it comes to Youkilis, I blame the "Curse of Gisele" - which apparently applies to in-laws, too.

Thankfully, there are no more curses affecting the Red Sox. They just have to real with the reality of being also-rans this season. And there's very little Valentine can do about that.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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