General thoughts about the 2011 Red Sox so far

This be my first post, but I've happily been reading OTM for over a year now.

OK.  So we're 3 and 10... hopefully 4 and 10 after today's game with the way they're playing.  I've kept myself from pressing the panic button... but it hasn't been easy!  With that said, I have some thoughts about the good and the bad I've seen so far this season...  I think this season can be saved and I still think we can go far in the playoffs and perhaps even win it all... but it won't be easy

With that said, my thoughts are after the jump...

First, the bad...

Dice-K... We'll start with the man most Red Sox fans love to hate... myself included.  My main problem with Dice-K is his infuriating inconsistency.  When we first started the process of bidding on Dice-K, it was made to sound like he would be the greatest pitcher to ever put on a Sox uniform... (I'm sorry, for me, that is still Pedro.) and he has NOT been what has been advertised.  In fact, he's really only good against ONE TEAM... thankfully, that is his next start.  We need to dump him... even if we have to eat the rest of his salary this year... and bring in someone who can actually pitch consistently.  I am sure there will be such a pitcher to come available soon enough.

Crawford...  I was excited when we signed Crawford.  I was thinking about the possibility of 100+ steals from our outfield.  But he hasn't delivered... I know he will in time... but it's agonizing for me to watch our leadoff man have an 0-fer on a regular basis.  Yes, we need to have patience with Crawford, no matter how infuriating it is to watch him right now.

Salty (I'm not even gonna TRY to spell his name since I can't do it even if it's right in front of me)... I was never on the Salty bandwagon.  I don't think I ever will be.  I was willing to give he of the incredibly hard to spell last name a chance since this lineup is LOADED... or should be... but he has not delivered (granted he did have the game tying RBI earlier today...)  This is one we can't fix in house right now... I'm a huge Varitek fan and always will be, but Jason is not capable of being a full time starter anymore... and even HE knows it.  He is an excellent backup to have around and still has a lot to contribute in that role, however we need a quality starting catcher.  We don't have one.

The offense as a whole... Is ouch, but is starting to come around a little.  IT will come around... and I can think of ways to help it... which I will point out later on.

The bullpen... This has also been shaky, but I do think it will turn around also in time.

The good:

There have been some bright spots so far this season.  I really think we need to take a look at some of those.

The Jedi... OK.  So I'm officially on the Jed Lowrie bandwagon.  How can you not be with the way he's played so far this season.  In fact, he's played his way to where he has to be starting every day right now.  He's batting .500 and is our most consistent hitter.  He started today's 4 run rally in the 2nd.  I think we all feel the same way about the Jedi right now so there's not much more to be said.

Josh Beckett... After 2010, I was pretty scared to see Beckett in the rotation this year... but hopeful that the odd year thing would hold true.  Well, after his last two starts, I'm convinced he's going to be in good form this year...  8IP of shutout ball against the Yankees is great.  Follow it off with 7IP of 1 run ball against the Blue Jays?  Can't ask any more from him than that.  That's 15 innings of 1 run ball against two lineups that ALWAYS generate a TON of runs every year.

Jon Lester... He's yet to record a win this year, but it's not his fault.  He is not having his normal April funk.  He is, in fact, pitching VERY well... he looks a LITTLE shaky today, but still pitching very well.  The only reason he's not winning is because he's not getting run support.  There's nothing he can do about that... he's going out and pitching as well as he can, and he is pitching well enough that we should be winning his starts.  In fact, there's no reason he shouldn't have 2 or 3 wins already.

Papelbon... Papelbon has looked very sharp so far this season.  And we need him to be.  This is a walk year for him so I expected him to be good... just not this good.  If he can keep this up for the whole season then that's going to be good.

What can the Sox do to improve and turn this around?

OK.  Here's where i get into my thoughts about what we need to do in order to keep winning.

1. Play the Jedi every day.  There's absolutely no reason the Jedi should be on the bench right now.  Even if he's not our starting SS for every game... he needs to be somewhere in the lineup every day... results talk and he's getting them.

2. Drop Crawford in the lineup.  Drop him to 6th that way he's not in a back to back black hole with Salty.

3. Get a catcher.  This has been covered ad nauseum over and over again and I'm all for somehow getting Soto away from the Cubbies.

4. Get a fifth starter that can actually pitch.  Again, this has been covered ad nauseum.  Perhaps the solution is as easy as releasing Dice-K and moving Aceves into the fifth starter role.  I could be OK with that.

5. Let 'Tek catch Beckett every time.  I said earlier that results talk.  Francona doesn't want to do personal catchers for any of his starters and Beckett would never ask for one.  BUT.  Look at these two sets of numbers:

With Salty:

0-1, 5IP, 5H, 3ER, 4BB, 4K (that's a 1.0 K/BB ration folks... not good.)

With 'Tek:

2-0 15IP, 5H, 1ER, 3BB, 19K (That's a 6.33 K/BB ratio... That's a HUGE difference)

I know which set of numbers /I/ would like to see more of!  And while there's no certainty he's going to keep doing this well with 'Tek.... That's a huge difference between the two catchers though...

My suggested regular lineup right now:

1, Lowrie (SS)
2, Pedroia (2B)
3, Gonzalez (1B)
4, Youkilis (3B)
5, Ortiz (DH)
6, Crawford (LF)
7, Drew (RF)
8, Salty/Tek platoon (C)
9, Ellsbury (CF)

And that's my thoughts, folks... feel free to agree or disagree, but that's what I'm seeing. The Sox can turn it around, but the can't do it without making some changes.  Even little ones might be the ticket...

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