We all know the Boston Red Sox are continuing to struggle, and we all know their offense is less than stellar. However, one of the most pressing issues that could literally make the difference in the season is their record in one-run games. It’s literally killing the team’s 2014 season.
Before they start their series against the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox own a 14-18 record in one-run games. Only two other teams in the majors have had more one-run games than the Red Sox — the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins. Both of those teams have had success in those games; the Pirates hold a 20-15 record and the Marlins are 19-14.
Even if the Red Sox had simply flipped their record in one-run games and they held an 18-14 record, that would bring them right into the thick of things for a playoff spot and to potentially become buyers at the trade deadline. They’d only be 3.5 games out of first place in the AL East and five games out of a Wild Card spot. So where does the blame lie for this record?
I put the blame on the Red Sox’s front office for taking too many risks on players who couldn’t be relied upon. The Grady Sizemore experiment was a failure, and Will Middlebrooks has been injured as always. Shane Victorino is going back to the player he was known to be, the DL specialist. Jackie Bradley Jr. still can’t hit in the majors. It’s all coming to a head. A team cannot rely on players who have this type of track record and expect to catch lightning in a bottle two years in a row.
If the Red Sox had simply spent some extra money and grabbed a player on the free agent market, it could have been a major difference in this season. Can you imagine where this team might have been if they had simply signed Nelson Cruz? The Orioles’ outfielder is hitting .278 with 26 home runs and 68 RBIs in only the first half of this season. That type of production, could have made a huge difference. I’d be comfortable with saying that the one-run record could have been improved by at least five games with the production Cruz could have provided.
If the Red Sox are going to be serious contenders, they have to get out of the mentality of looking for this bargains on the free agent market. Yes, they’ll find someone who will come in and be worth the gamble once in a while. Scott Kazmir in Oakland is a perfect example, but Boston can’t rely on this. They need to be bold and sign or trade for that asset that will put the team over the top. At this rate, they’ll be looking up at the entire AL East.