In ancient Greek mythology, Tantalus was a famous jackass. He stole from the other gods, he generally ruined everyone's parties. The final straw came when, for a lark, he killed his son and served him as an entree at an Olympus dinner party (yeah, some of the Greek myths are pretty messed up). For his crime, the gods banished him to the underworld, and condemned him to a famous (and etymological) punishment. Tantalus would for all eternity stand neck-deep in a pool of water, under a tree laden with ripe fruit. Whenever he reached for fruit, the branches would rise just out of reach. When he bent to drink, the water would recede from his lips. This may be sounding familiar to some of you, because that's about where the Red Sox have been all year.
They're under .500. Again. Not only that, they're under .500 thanks to two straight losses to Minnesota, directly following a 4-2 run against New York and Detroit. And for all that, they're still within one good week of a playoff spot, with the sixth-best run differential in the league. The fruit's right there, they just can't seem to pick the damn thing. So here's the deal. I don't want to rat anyone out. But if any of you has been secretly feeding children to Zeus, kindly admit it and take your punishment, so that the rest of us can move along. Because it's getting pretty bad.
Recap after the jump.
Everything this week was focused on the trade deadline, especially with the Red Sox hanging out in a bizarre Limbo somewhere between buying and selling. Rumors swirled all over the place. Would the Sox trade away a starter? Would they deal from depth? Would we be saying farewell to a catcher? Would Josh Beckett be heading to Texas? For that matter, would Jacoby Ellsbury be going with him? Should the Sox try to reacquire old pal Justin Masterson? Well, the deadline came and went, and when the dust had settled, Boston found itself the proud owners of a shiny new Craig Breslow. In a smaller deal, the Red Sox finally gave up on trying to make Lars Anderson a big-leaguer, sending him to Cleveland for minor-league knuckleballer Steven Wright.
It was a slow deadline for the Sox, especially compared to years past. Ben wrote that this was probably the best option, with the team where it is in the standings and the roster (finally) where it was supposed to be in April (well, except for Papi). Matt Kory made the point that can't be emphasized enough: it's about pitching, and Boston has a couple of potential horses. Marc took a closer look at the two big horses, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, and whether they can fulfill that potential in the second half. Marc also examined the new Breslow-inclusive bullpen, and how it can affect the Sox' chances down the stretch. Matt Collins peered ahead at the August waiver deadline, and speculated that Boston's catching depth could allow a move.
Aaron Cook's rough outing against Detroit led to some hard questions. Marc wondered whether his run in the Sox rotation was at an end. Ben looked over Cook's contribution to the team, and found some decent value.
Thursday's loss to the Twins, which in retrospect wasn't nearly as frustrating as last night's, prompted Ben to check on the perception that Boston performs particularly poorly against rookies. The quick answer is no, but as with most things Red Sox, it's more complicated than that. In news of old friends, the Indians released Derek Lowe, leading to a flurry of speculation that the Sox might fetch him for one last hurrah. My assumption is that they're not actually that desperate, but as a cheap bit of depth, sure, why not?
And, of course, because we can't have nice things,we finished the week with the report that Boston's clubhouse may still harbor (gasp) a snitch. This is of course a very important matter, one which demands constant surveillance from Boston's crack team of beat reporters and radio pundits. I am prompted by this to recall the words of that great statesman, Mayor Joseph Quimby: "Are these people getting louder, or just dumber?"
Another week, another raft of frustrations. Par for the course here in 2012. In funner news, today is the first day of the Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball seminar here in Boston. Tickets have sold out, but if you're already planning to attend, be sure to find me and say hi. Or don't, since this is the internet and meeting people in real life is weird. Happy weekend, all.