So it's come to this. The Red Sox get their heads staved in by the Oakland A's, while the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx to determine the AL East lead. Last night's game marked Boston's twentieth loss in August, and put them nine games under .500. We've gone well past "wait till next year" territory and are now into full-fledged "how high will they get to draft?" It's a weird place to be, given Boston's decade of near-constant success, and yet it's somehow kind of liberating. Watching baseball with no expectation of success is something I haven't gotten to do (other than at minor-league games) all that often, and it's kind of nice. That said, I hope not to get too used to it.
It was an unusual week for covering the Red Sox. Mostly we were all still wrapping our heads around the (sorry, I actually have to pause here because I was laughing too hard at Josh Reddick's grand slam making it 18-2 Oakland) enormous Punto trade and its aftermath. But even with that in mind, we were able to put together some semblance of analysis of the team as it stands and how it might begin to look headed into 2013 and beyond.
Full recap after the jump.
All discussion this week started with the megatrade. Matt Sullivan analyzed the once-in-a-lifetime sequence of events that allowed the trade to occur. Ben looked to 2013, and decided that even with this diminished roster, Boston has a shot at one of the wild-card spots. After all, if the current O's can make the playoffs... Matt Kory, riffing on Ben Cherington's oft-quoted "discipline" line, examined how much discipline exists in the Red Sox lineup at present. Finally, with Adrian Gonzalez back on the west coast, Marc took a look at the two top prospects Boston sent away to get Gonzalez two years ago, both of whom are now in the majors.
With that enormous deal in the books, the next question became what moves might lie ahead. Ben shot down the idea, floated on ESPN this week, of trading Daniel Bard for John Farrell, and considered the possibility of signing Torii Hunter to a short-term deal this offseason. Then, of course, Joe Mauer was placed on waivers and everybody briefly lost their minds. Fortunately, one of the few who didn't lose their minds was Ben Cherington, and Mauer remains a Twin.
How to enjoy the rest of a season in which the Red Sox seem on an express elevator to hell, going down, with nary a nuke or a sharp stick? Matt Sullivan put forth a number of storylines that should sustain us while the Pats aren't playing. Ben suggested that a bit of draft-minded surrender could be useful. And if nothing else, it's still fun to watch Pedro Ciriaco, horrible plate discipline and all.
The main thing to look forward to, of course, is the kids on the farm, some of whom have been called up for the season's final month. One such player, Mauro Gomez, is not likely a long-term solution for Boston at any position, but he was named the International League's MVP. We got some insight from Bullpen Banter on the potential of Drake Britton, and Baseball Prospectus's Jason Parks stopped in to discuss Boston's farm in more depth. And if you're out in the drier, hotter parts of the country, you'll soon have a chance to watch Bryce Brentz in action: the young outfielder is among the Sox prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League.
Welcome to September, all. Safe to say whatever fond dreams we had of a suddenly depressurized Sox team making a surprise run were killed last night by the mighty trio of Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, and George Kottaras. But hey, it's getting cooler, we'll get to see more of Jose Iglesias picking it, and it frees us all up to watch some of the non-Sox wackiness going on in the league. Enjoy the Labor Day weekend, and maybe even a game or two.