Friday, July 31, 2009

Hope and frustration in Boston

I was at Fenway earlier this week for Jim Rice Day. His #14 was retired up on the right field facade. Lots of goose-flesh moments, including the A's Nomar Garciaparra running over to give Rice a big hug (Jim Rice was Nomar's first hitting coach in Boston, and had a lot to do with both of Nomar's batting titles). On hand were Johnny Pesky, Fred Lynn, Pudge Fisk, Bob Stanley and Dwight Evans. The ceremony was lots of fun.

Then, the game started. Buchholz pitched well enough to win, but Nick Green, Jonathan Papelbon, Terry Francona and Manny Delcarmen combined to kick it all away. It was the most frustrating, infuriating game I've seen at Fenway in a very, very long time. The team has talent to spare, including some superb pitching and fearsome hitting, but no killer instinct, and not a lot of *life*.

Maybe some of that will change with the acquisition today of C/1B/DH Victor Martinez from Cleveland and Casey Kotchman from Atlanta. It will cost them Nick Hagadone, Bryan Price and Justin Masterson, as well as moving Adam Laroche elsewhere. Bummer, Cleveland fans, that you're about to celebrate Victor Martinez Bobblehead Day, and he's outta there!

In terms of a talent pickup, this is good, and potentially smart. What we don't know is if this will light the fire under the team as the Cabrera, Dave Roberts and Doug Mientkiewicz pickups did in 2004. They need a heart transplant as much as a talent infusion. This Red Sox team has to start showing a refusal to lose, and develop a sense of This Is Our Pennant, Dammit.

I hope we start to see it soon, because right now, although they're an undeniably talented team, as currently constituted they're also unacceptably soft.

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