After a disappointing series in Oakland, the pale hose prepare to do battle with the Sox of a different color as Boston rides into town. In anticipation, I’ve exchanged a few questions with BoSox Injection’s Derek Stykalo.
MA: The White Sox endured a lot of jabber about discord stemming from the manager. It didn’t end well. Do you see the Red Sox coming out from under all of the Bobby Valentine controversies? Do you think that maybe they are more media controversies than actual player/manager issues?
DS: Certainly being in a market such as Boston doesn’t help the situation where anyone involved with the Red Sox can’t go to the bathroom without it being scrutinized. None the less, Bobby V’s ways don’t work in this fishbowl environment because of the media. The other problem is the players. Guys like Pedroia who came out and said “we don’t do things like that around here” makes you wonder if there is anything Bobby can do to turn the clubhouse around. It sounds as though it might be a case of the patients running the asylum in which case Bobby V was finished before he got started. If he can learn to adjust and not attack his players in the public, then a few more wins might help mend things between him and the guys and the season might have hope after all. If not, well, this could be a long year in Boston and will serve as a bridge year.
MA: Last year the Red Sox showed that though small sample sizes are, well, small sample sizes, they do greatly affect the season. A bad month at the start and a bad month to finish bookended what was otherwise the best team in baseball. Knowing that, do you have any panic just yet about the trajectory of 2012?
DS: They haven’t gotten off to the start that they needed to that’s for sure and to get humiliated by both the Rangers and Yankees only made things worse. Fortunately for the Red Sox no one in the division is running away with things and now that the difficult part of the schedule is out of the way, things should get better. I wouldn’t say it’s panic time just yet, but the Sox need to keep winning, get to .500 and climb out of the cellar in the AL East. After that they need to prove to all of baseball that they can beat the upper echelon teams like the Rangers, Tigers and to some extent the Yankees. If they can’t then as I said above, this will be a long torturous season and likely Bobby’s first and only in Boston.
MA: Jacoby Ellsbury on the DL hurts. Do you think that Marlon Byrd is a reasonable stop gap? Can he help keep the team where they need to be until Jacoby is back and healthy?
DS: At first I ripped the deal that saw Byrd come to Boston, stating he wasn’t the answer. The series in Minnesota he had some nice at bats and tracked down some dangerously hit fly balls to secure timely outs. While it’s a small sample, if he can continue to produce at the plate and in the outfield then he will be a nice gap until Ellsbury is ready. But keep in mind, both Carl Crawford and Ryan Kalish could be back in June which could make for a crowded outfield. With Jason Repko now out thanks to a shoulder injury and Cody Ross banged up the Byrd deal looks like a steal, but time will tell as I’m still not certain it was the right move long term.