Where do we go from here with these Red Sox?

Rob Bradford
August 05, 2019 - 10:04 am

When Dave Dombrowski woke up July 31 his team had lost one more game than the Rays. When the sun came up Monday (and yes Red Sox fans it did come up) the difference was seven.

Let's soak that in.

Like the Red Sox, Tampa Bay wasn't going to make a sprint toward the top of the division. Like the Red Sox, its path to a World Series run was going to have to be put through a one-game Wild Card play-in. Unlike the Red Sox (or more specifically Dombrowski) the Rays were OK with that. Six wins in a row later the Rays feel pretty good about their lot in life, enjoying the presence of newcomers Jesus Aguilar, Eric Sogard and Nick Anderson while sitting firmly in the hunt for a postseason berth.

The Red Sox? There hasn't been this kind of August punch-in-the-gut vibe around here in some time. Remember that five-game sweep by the Yankees back in mid-August 2006, turning a 1 1/2-game Red Sox deficit into an all-hope-is-lost vibe the rest of the way? This was a reminder.

Maybe Dombrowski knew something we didn't, that the starting pitching wasn't quite right and wouldn't be leaving the Red Sox in the kind of position that key relief-pitching additions would never fix. But if that was the case nobody told the players or those who have attempted to figure this whole thing out. 

You want proof? I present to you Mookie Betts' interview with Ken Rosenthal prior to Saturday's doubleheader sweep at Yankee Stadium:

Rosenthal: "Last Wednesday passed, trade deadline, you guys did not get a reliever. What was the reaction in the clubhouse? Did that bother you guys?"

Betts: "Um, I mean ... You could say yes, you could say know. That's all stuff in the clubhouse we can't control."

Translation: "Yes."

Believe me, even if that entire group was furious no move was made that is just part of the equation. Sure, between the comment from Dombrowski about taking different approaches depending on how the Red Sox might make the postseason, along with the lack of any July 31 additions, morale wasn't boosted. And there is most likely a feeling of "We're trying to do our job, so why didn't you do yours." But the fact of the matter is nobody -- from those in the GM luxury box to the clubhouse to the coaches room -- has performed when it counted the most. 

And this was a really bad time to go into an organization-wide slump.

So, now what?

The answer isn't sexy: just plod forward and hope for the best.

Unless there are injuries we don't know about the likes of Rick Porcello, Chris Sale and David Price are simply going to continue their existence as every-fifth-day participants. Potential free agents such as Porcello, Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland and J.D. Martinez aren't going anywhere. The new rules won't allow it. There really aren't a whole lot of members of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox are pushing their way on to the major league scene. 

Sure, at some point the likes of Bobby Dalbec and maybe Tanner Houck will be interesting to see at Fenway at some point this season, but if you're looking for an infusion of energy to jolt everyone away from Patriots preseason games that will be hard to find.

Thanks to the elimination of the waiver trade deadline, along with the perceived death knell administered by the Yankees, this is shaping up to be some of the most innocuous baseball ever played by a team whose payroll and pedigree was supposed to be the ultimate protection against apathy.

Maybe the Red Sox use the next three games as a springboard to change the conversation. After all, the next few weeks don't exactly represent anything close to the 14-game gauntlet they went just limped their way through. The Royals, Angels, Indians, Orioles, Phillies, Padres, Rockies, and Angels. That's your August. If the starting pitchers can actually magically evolve into the players this blueprint was based on, then perhaps things can get interesting again.

But to this point, these Red Sox have officially lost the benefit of the doubt, along with the right to make us look at the schedules for Tampa Bay, Oakland or Cleveland.

They wanted us to be one of those people who stared at the computer-generated picture long enough to see the sailboat -- or in this case, a team with a plan and a pulse. But the eyes have gotten blurry. The dots aren't rearranging themselves. It simply is what it is, which is far from art.