As we've endured this last week of awfulness, Red Sox fans have turned to an unfamiliar source to console themselves after every loss: the draft.
It's been a long time since the Red Sox have had a truly good pick--since before the team was ever really focused on player development. While they've picked up some decent picks in the first round thanks to their focus on compensation picks--a system they exploited ruthlessly while it existed--they've never been able to move into the top-15, since those picks were always protected.
As it stands, the Red Sox are tied with San Diego for the ninth worst record in baseball at 63-74. Of the eight teams ahead of them, only two seem completely uncatchable. To leapfrog Houston, the Sox would have to lose just about every game remaining with the Astros winning just about every game remaining. Given that Houston basically looks like the current Red Sox minus the positive elements of Dustin Pedroia and Cody Ross, that seems unlikely. The Cubs, too seem out of reach at a full eleven games back.
On the other hand, there are some very approachable picks.
To move up to #6, the Sox would need to drop just two games in the standings to Kansas City, Toronto, and Miami. Their "advantage?" The remaining schedule. After finishing their series against the Mariners tonight, the Red Sox will play exclusively AL East competition, with six games against each of their division opponents.
For the Red Sox, that means only two series with much hope for wins, both against the Blue Jays. And while that Toronto team is pretty dire, the fact is that the Red Sox are playing at a level far below a 63-74 team right now. The Royals and Indians, meanwhile, will face eachother six times, and have nine games against the Minnesota Twins between them. The Jays will of course get the Red Sox, but also have series against the Mariners and Twins coming up.
The Red Sox are going to lose a lot of games this month of September. They'll spend most of the rest of their season facing playoff contenders, and I don't think anyone out there is going to pretend that this team can go toe-to-toe with teams like that right now. Would it be nice to play spoiler to the Yankees? Yes, God yes. But let's not pretend that's likely, or that the way we're most likely to do that is by offering ourselves up as sacrifice to some of the other hated AL East competition.
At least, though, it seems like the Sox will be able to get something out of those losses. The key will be, sadly, losing to Toronto enough. Because right now it looks like the rest of those teams can't help but to pick up some wins, facing eachother and other bad teams as often as they do. We won't be pushing for Mark Appel, but--like it or not--the Sox certainly seem likely get closer to that then #10.