Remember when the Sox rotation was in good shape?

832087.jpg

Remember when the Sox rotation was in good shape?

"The Red Sox appear to have the top of their rotation set for the next five years. The rest of it is in pretty good shape, too."

I was Googling around this morning, trying to brush up on the details of Josh Becketts wildly-depressing contract, when I came across this lead. Its from an AP story that was published on April 5, 2010, the day after Beckett signed his four-year, 68M extension with the Sox.

Funny how perfect it all looked back then. With Beckett re-signed, John Lackey inked for five years and Jon LesterClay Buchholz under control through 2014, we all thought the Sox had it made. If nothing else, they'd always have pitching. One of the best staffs in the AL, in fact.

"It's hard to have an elite organization without excellent starting pitching," Theo Epstein said at the time. "When you have that starting pitching, you don't want to let it get away. It's hard to acquire in free agency. It's hard to acquire in trades. And it's hard to draft and develop this kind of starting pitching. ... That's the biggest building block on which we can go about finishing off the rest of the club."

Ugh.

It's crazy how much things can changed in a few years, but no doubt that they have. There's no doubt that the core that was supposed to carry this team through these last three seasons and beyond is now the biggest hurdle standing between the Sox and success. Beckett and Lackey have piled up their nine years150M and defecated on it. Lester's regressed. I don't think any of us are ready to count him out, but we never imagined this. Buchholz is hard to beat when he's healthy and focused, but that's only come in spurts. Right now, he's great. But how long will that hold up?
Of course, this is nothing new. Like I said, we're now in our third season of watching this "elite" pitching staff underachieve and sabotage Boston's hopes. While we once beamed at the prospect of their time together, we're now left begging for it to end . . .

While simultaneously fearing that it won't.

I mean, at this point, will anyone be surprised if they're all back next season? If somehow, the Sox justify keeping Beckett and Lackey in the mix? I won't be. And in turn, won't be surprised if this team continues to crumble. Like Theo Epstein said: "It's hard to have an elite organization without excellent starting pitching."

Right now, the Sox have neither.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Ortiz quells comeback speculation: 'My playing time has expired'

red_sox_david_ortiz_100716.jpg

Ortiz quells comeback speculation: 'My playing time has expired'

Forget that cryptic Tweet to the Globe. David Ortiz isn't walking through that door, fans. At least not as a player.

"My playing time has already expired," Ortiz told ESPN Deportes. "Baseball is not something that you wake up today and you say, 'I'll play tomorrow.' Baseball is something that carries a lot of sacrifice, a lot of preparation, and there is a reason why we train the entire year to play it, practice every day, especially during the season, because it is a sport of consistency."

No one really thought he was contemplating a comeback, but last week he Tweeted this . . .

. . . and that raised hopes that he'd changed his mind.

Not so.