2010 will be a year of memories for Boston, but most of them would better be forgotten. Josh Beckett going down for most of the season. Jacoby Ellsbury missing all of it. Dustin Pedroia's freak foot injury. Bill Hall bobbling balls at each and every position. Adrian Beltre destroying the outfield.
Speaking of memories, I remember this plague of injuries happening before. In 2006, the team was similarly wracked with injuries. A squad that started in January with 7 starters traded Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena (remember him?), put Papelbon in the pen, lost David Wells and Matt Clement to injury, and by the end of the year was relying on Kyle Snyder, Kason Gabbard, and a multitude of others. And over the course of the last few months the lineup was devastated as well. Beyond Jonathan Papelbon, the pen was also a lost cause. Pretty much the entire season was forgettable.
If the 2010 doesn't completely disintegrate like the 2006 team, it will play .500 ball, treading water until being mathematically eliminated half-way through September. The Rays may be fading now, but there's no way this team can capitalize on that, and when Tampa gets hot again, Boston will stay lackluster.
As an aside, Theo's teams haven't yet repeated an outcome in consecutive years:
2003 - made playoffs, lost in ALCS
2004 - WS
2005 - made playoffs bounced first round
2006 - plague of injuries costs playoff berth
2007 - WS
2008 - made playoffs, lost in ALCS
2009 - made playoffs, bounced first round
2010 - (probable outcome) plague of injuries cost Sox playoff berth
It's over. Not over-the-monster-down-on-Landowne-Street over. Not 1 game-playoff for the wild card over. Not big-7-game-lead-and-cruising-into-the-playoffs over. This team has been overwhelmed by its overwrought DL and underperforming bullpen. Out of a $170 million playoff-bound behemoth, we have uncovered a hapless triple-A team. This team is not going to see October. When they can't defeat an Indians team that has jettisoned its stars and is flailing around helplessly, when it can't win when Josh Beckett goes up against a Dustin Moseley, you know it's over.
Unlike 2006, being down and out this year was not a predictable occurrence. The Sox weren't a lightweight team building towards contention - they were supposed to compete from day 1. About the only warning sign, arguably, was depending on so many key players above 30 (Youk, Beckett, Lackey, Cameron, Beltre, Ortiz, Lowell, Scutaro, Oki, Martinez, Tek and many others). But two of the most shocking injuries were to young players - Pedroia and Ellsbury, neither of whom seemed like injury risks.
When this season finally ends, ignominiously, there wil be much blame to go around. I believe that the medical staff, often regarded as one of baseball's best, will receive some of it. Fortune, Luck and other intangible qualities will also be blamed. In the end, I'm not sure that anyone or thing can really take all the credit. I'm just sorry MVP seasons from Beltre, Buchholz and Lester were wasted, and so was David Ortiz's unexpected resurgence.
From now on, if you watch, the attraction should be (like a AAA game) seeing young players getting playing time. It should be savoring the good work from Buchholz, Lester, Papi and Beltre (when he's not mauling teammates). It should be thinking ahead to the offseason and 2011's possibilities. Because the Sox are not going to October this year, and you'll only hurt yourself to think that.