How did they under perform down the stretch? Lackey has sucked all year. Wakefield has broken down at the end of every year since 2006. Weiland, Doubront, Miller, etc, etc, etc simply arn't very good.
Beckett had 2 bad outings in his last 4, but not incredibly awful.
Well, one place to start is to ask why the backup pitchers-- who, based on past and present season-arcs, are needed in key games every year-- are not very good. The point made earlier about this rotation being too stacked to attract good pitchers was fair and well received, but settling for Weiland and Miller as feasible options to replace even the #4 and #5 starters in case of dire need-- which, again, the team should now know to expect, whatever the reason-- seems like a terrible decision, and seemed so at the time. But of course the optimists looked at Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz as being able to last the whole year, and then hoped Lackey would rebound from his career-worst year instead of doubling down on his own personal horrorfest, and saw Matsuzaka as a reasonable shot to pitch his usual or maybe better if he stayed healthy, with Wake as a possible replacement for one of them.
My point here is that this team apparently needs to expect the potential 7th, 8th, and maybe 9th pitchers as givens for a good chunk of the season, be it due to bad luck or whatever else; Weiland and Miller are not reliably good in any way, and so their awfulness could have been expected, though the time granted to each was excessive. With the number of injuries we fans now have to expect-- not always this many, but we should have learnt to expect at least an injury or two to key pitchers-- that means that bullpen generally needs to be deeper than predicted, as well. Which means the Sox need some genuinely MLB-ready pitchers in Pawtucket every year, or more-injury-resistant pitchers (which is debatably knowable in the best of circumstances). In pitching injuries, the 2011 Red Sox had 9 pitchers with 5 or more starts, out of 27 total pitchers (including Darnell McDonald's single inning and other spotty contributors); the 2010 Red Sox had 6 with 5 or more starts, and 25 pitchers total; the 2009 team had 9 out of 27; the 2008 team, 8 out of 23; 2007, 7 out of 20; and 2006, 10 out of 28. And I understand that accruing that sort of pitching depth as an afterthought is nigh impossible, but this year, the team barely managed to assemble pitching theatre, much less pitching talent.
Meanwhile, those of you talking about character and passion and whatever whilst either lionising or denouncing reality can go sit on the payroll spike and spin. As far as I can tell, that's all just code for "I didn't like something about certain players," and about as stable as a queef in gale-force winds. Just stop it. We get it; you're passionate about this game. That's fantastic, and I laud your devotion. But don't check your brain at the gates. Culture has nothing to do with it: maybe you're trying to suggest that the Sox have somehow developed a team mindset that presumes winning as its God-given right, which is about as foetid as llama-shit can possibly be. And any perceivable beneficial urgency exists only in your mind, and is generally harmful to an actual team-- red-assing is not aspirational, it's a detriment. You say they lack confidence, but that's pure pop-speculation nonsense: for all you know, they have Casey-level confidence (Casey as in Thayer, not as in Sean, although as I think of it, either would do) and that's making them swing so badly.
Trading Lester would probably bring a lot of value, sure. But paper value is useless if it's the wrong kind of value-- if the Sox can manage to trade Lester (and possibly a low-level player or two) into a middle-echelon starter, an average backup 2B/1B, a streaky outfielder, and a too-young-to-tell reliever, then does that really count as good value? If they can manage a 3-team swing and get, for the sake of discussion, Zumaya, Wainwright, and Tyler Greene, would that count as "good value," given that Zoomy and Wainwright are coming off surgery and Greene would have to learn at least one new position? On paper, the Sox would gain almost $1millionUSD in that trade, but the reality is far bleaker. Now, if they could get Y. Molina and post-surgery wildcard Wainwright for Lester, I'd start to sit up a little straighter, but likely still ultimately dislike the deal. After a year plagued by poor pitching, I don't understand the logic of shopping around one of the few effective pitchers available-- as someone else noted, any such trade would come from a place of weakness, and that rarely ends well.
One of the things I appreciate about this team is that they are always willing to listen to the right trade proposal. No one is safe, because no one is irreplaceable. They'd trade Pedroia in a heartbeat if the right deal arose. But that doesn't mean they respect anyone else's valuations, either. They know how much they value each player, and are willing to listen to any swop that matches their numbers.
But fundamentally, this team appeared knackered down the end. They didn't make what could have been routine plays, the pitchers lost their stuff, the fielders broke badly and came up short... They looked exhausted and played poorly. But, some say, if they come back next year hungry for a title, then this team could win 113 games! ... Or it could win 82. No one fucking knows, but their tongue-assed exhaustion down the stretch does raise at least the spectre of some organisational lackaday, and I still believe it points at least near the conditioning and medical staff. The key here is that this same team, if kept healthy, have a significantly higher potential than 2011 realised; now the bosses need to learn how to keep them on the field.
As it shook out, this was a 90-win team that sometimes looked like a 97-win team and sometimes like a 75-win team, but it got labelled as a potential 100-win one before a single game was played. On paper, it should have won more than 90, but so it goes and all that. I've endured years when I'd have killed-- literally killed-- for a 90-win team; 2011 was not one of them.
If I've learned one thing from this board it's that this is completely wrong. Simply throw out his bad numbers. The remainder is his true talent.
They should dump the extra pitcher to allow them to expand the bench. Do a pseudo 2003 thing. Bring in a few guys to mix in and hope one sticks.
This was bloody beautiful in context.