Yesterday showed why the Red Sox aren’t a playoff team

I know it can seem silly declaring a team’s playoff hopes dead before they play their first home game. ESPECIALLY when that team won 90 games the year before, 89 the year before that and made the post season 6 of the prior 7 years.
But let me ask you a few questions and you might understand why I have no playoff hopes for this team.
1. How many starters on the Red Sox can you count on?
That would be Jon Lester. Everyone else is suffering from injuries (just have your thumb treated, Beckett and join Dice-K and Lackey on the DL!) will eventually be injured (I’m looking at YOU Feet of Clay Buchholz) are relievers thrown into the rotation (Daniel Bard aka Joba Chamberlain 2.0) or should be a minor leaguer (no offense, Felix Doubront.)
2. How many relievers on the Red Sox can you count on?
At this point? Padilla. And that is scary.
3. Seeing that you can’t count on 80% of the rotation nor the bullpen, can the Red Sox afford to lose games where Jon Lester has pitched well?
Nope. Those have to be put in the bank.
4. Has Jon Lester pitched well in his first two starts?
Very well. He has lived up to his billing. He let up only 3 hits over 8 innings yesterday and in the opener let up one run over 7 innings.
5. How did the Red Sox fare in those games?
They lost them both.
This team has virtually ZERO margin for error. Especially with the way the Rays have come out of the gate (and with their young pitching, they can pick each other up) and the way the Yankees recovered from the opening Tampa sweep. (Reports of Mariano’s demise were exaggerated.)
Yes it is early.
It’s not even Tax Day.
But 89 or 90 wins aren’t going to cut it for a trip to October.
And there is no way you are going to win 95 of the final 156 games if you can’t cash in terrific Lester outings.
2 out of 3 of those games should be automatically in the team’s win column if not Lester’s.
There’s not a lot of depth to pick up the slack.
Lower your expectations Red Sox fans.
This is not a playoff team.
BUT I will dutifully update the tally.

April 9 – 4-2 win in Toronto. (A day after blowing leads in the 9th and 11th, the Sox win their first game of the year with a 3 run 9th inning rally capped off by Ryan Sweeney’s 2 out go ahead RBI single)


April 5 – 3-2 loss in Detroit. (The Red Sox rally to tie the season opener with 2 outs in the 9th only to lose on a bases loaded walk off single by Austin Jackson.)
April 8 – 13-12 loss in Detroit. (The Red Sox bullpen surrender a 3 run game tying homer in the 9th to Cabrera and Avila smacked a 2 run, 2 out walk off come from behind homer to win it in as brutal a loss as you will ever see.
April 11 – 3-1 loss in Toronto. (Lester throws a complete game but Ricky Romero shut down Boston’s bats and Rajai Davis manufactured a critical run.)


The Sox open Fenway tomorrow against Tampa on Friday the 13th.
No potential bad omen there.

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Sully Baseball Salutes Andrew Carignan

My fellow baseball fans and readers of the blog. Let us tip our cap to Oakland reliever Andrew Carignan. And I will explain why.

The Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals went into extra innings today. With a Kansas City runner on first and 2 outs in the top of the 12th, Oakland manager Bob Melvin brought in Andrew Carignan to relieve Jordan Norberto, who had gone 1 2/3 innings.

Royals slugger Billy Butler hit one into the left field corner and Eric Hosmer, taking advantage of Coco Crisp’s arm, raced all the way home from first. The Royals took a 4-3 lead.

But after a one out error in the bottom of the 12th, Royals reliever Jonathan Broxton totally lost his control. He walked two batters and hit two more. The last hit batsman was Johnny Gomes to bring home the winning run.

The winning pitcher? Andrew Carignan.

It was his first big league victory.
And that is an achievement.

The New London Connecticut native was a star pitcher for the North Carolina Tar Heels and drafted by Oakland in the 5th round of the 2007 draft. He was drafted ahead of Tampa’s Matt Moore and Arizona’s Josh Collmenter, who each won a game in the 2011 post season.

Carignan pitched well his first few years in the minors, but then injuries took their toll. At age 22, he pitched only 2 innings in the 2009 season. At age 23, he had a poor 2010 season at Single A Stockton and threw only 33 innings.

A lot of pitchers get derailed by injuries and ineffectiveness. A lot of pitchers never get past that Single A level. The leap from Single A to Double A must be astronomical. And the jump to Triple A and finally to the majors must have seemed unattainable when a pitcher him his mid 20s couldn’t stay healthy or get Single A batters out.

But in 2011, he jumped four levels, starting at Single A Stockton, then being promoted first to Double Midland and Triple A Sacramento before making his big league debut on September 2, 2011.

He made the big league squad out of spring training and lost the season opener in Tokyo out of the pen.

Today, he got his first win.

I wonder how many times when he was struggling at Single A ball he thought “It’s not going to happen.”

He must have had moments where he thought “I am not going to make it to the big leagues. I will never get to experience a victory in the majors. The injuries are too much. The competition is too strong. There are too many new young pitchers taking my place.”

And how many of us can’t even comprehend being a real Major Leaguer, let alone be in a position where you have one in the win column.

Congratulations Andrew Carignan.
Many other people would have folded up the tent.

You battled through.

I hope I have a little bit of Andrew Carignan in me as well.

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