McAdam: Sox choose terrible time for slump


McAdam: Sox choose terrible time for slump

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Say this for the 2011 Red Sox: they sure can pick a bad time to have a losing streak.

They endured their first right out of the starting gate, losing the first six games of the season, eventually dropping 10 of their first 12.

As such, they had their professional obituaries written. Entire research departments were assigned to complete this sentence as many different ways as possible: "No team which began the year 2-10 has ever . . ."

The Sox insisted that they would be fine, and, indeed they were. They also insisted that had their losing streak come in mid-season, it would have gone virtually unnoticed. But it didn't, so it wasn't.

Now, a week into September, it's happening again. At the precise time when playoff matchups are just now coming into focus, the Sox are skidding again.

They lost three of four to Toronto this week, dropping games in every conceivable fashion. They lost when they didn't hit (1-0 Monday); they lost when their bullpen sprung several leaks (11-10 Wednesday); and they lost when they failed to pitch or hit (7-4 Thursday).

That made it three series losses in a row for the first time since the final 10 days of June. (Then, no one much cared or noticed, as the Sox themselves had presciently forecast back in April.)

Now, people are paying attention. And some of the low-grade panic setting in is not without merit.

Stumbling to the finish line is not the preferred method of preparation for the playoffs and with the post-season set to begin three weeks from Friday night, some issues need addressing.

Despite weeks worth of auditioning, they've yet to find a trustworthy option for the seventh inning. Perhaps Alfredo Aceves is the logical solution since Bobby Jenks is most assuredly not. Nor, for that matter, is the second-half version of Matt Albers.

The starting rotation may be in shambles, what with the temporary unavailability of Josh Beckett and Erik Bedard. Until they return to health, the likes of Andrew Miller, Tim Wakefield and John Lackey need to do a better job keeping their teammates in games.

Finally, there's the inconsistent lineup, which has the unnerving habit of being shutout one game (Monday) and scoring 14 runs the very next (Tuesday). It would help if Dustin Pedroia (one hit in four games in Toronto) and Kevin Youkilis (no RBI since coming off the DL a week ago) reverted to form.

The team is still pointed toward the post-season but their position isn't exactly unassailable; the Tampa Bay Rays are six games back in the loss column heading into Friday's game, the first of seven between the clubs in the next 10 days.

Now would be a good time to start playing better. Even a team whose timing has been bad since the start should realize that.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”