- Scott Podsednik
- Ryan Sweeney
- Marlon Byrd
- Darnell McDonald
- Che-Hsuan Lin(sanity)
- Brent Lillibridge
- Jason Repko
- Nate Spears
- Lars Anderson
- Daniel Nava
- Ryan Kalish
- Pedro Ciriaco
These are the players who, because of injuries to Crawford, Ellsbury, and Ross, have played the outfield this year. Not to mention the Adrian Gonzalez in right field experiment.
I start this argument out like this because this season is in no way as much Bobby V’s fault as the knee-jerk Boston media seems to think it is.
As of game 118, Ortiz, Pedroia, Crawford, Ellsbury, and Ross have missed a combined 248 games. (Granted, this includes days off and occasional platoons.) The point is, Bobby V has had to constantly shuffle his lineup. For example, on July 7 while playing the first game of a doubleheader with the Yankees, the Sox posted this gem of a starting nine:
Fun fact: Boston averages the second lightest lineup in baseball, thanks Slim Papi. (via ESPN)
But the hitting is certainly not the team’s weakness. Contributions from Ciriaco, Podsednik, Ssweeney, Nava, and Will Middlebrooks have been pleasant surprises.
No, the problem with this team is the starting pitching. Here are some stats that should take some heat off Valentine:
- The team is 25th in quality starts, Clay Buchholz leads Sox pitchers eligible in ERA with a 4.24.
- If you doubled Jered Weaver’s ERA-leading 2.22, it would still be lower than the other three eligible Red Sox starters.
- The league average, 4.04, is lower than all Sox starting pitchers.
- Opponents are getting on base at a .329 clip and slugging .432 against the Sox starters, for an OPS of .761.
- The league average for OBP and Slugging is .319 and .406, respectively, for an OPSs of .726.
- The highest WAR for the main starters is Buchholz’s 1.1 (Morales also has a 1.1), followed by Becket with zero. ZERO.
To sum up: the starters are not very good.
Fenway’s (ehhhhhhhh) faithful got on Valentine’s case early when the Sox were slow out of the box. Hell, Darnell McDonald had a lower ERA than Mark Melancon at one point. This organization expects to win every year, but when they don’t, people brandish their index fingers about like it was going out of style. Beckett, Lester, Aceves, Gonzalez, and Crawford have all felt the wrath of the media and fans alike.
When it’s routine for sports writers to post five stories a week on players calling for Bobby V’s head or ownership finding the need to publicly back their manager, one can’t help but roll their eyes.
He shouldn’t be going anywhere. He’s running a team that ended 2011 on a 7-20 run (rather, collapse), and a team whose lineup has been constantly tinkered with day-to-day.
Valentine is not off the hook – Bard as a starter was never a good idea – but come on, how can you hate the master of disguise…