At seven games under .500, 8½ games behind the three teams tied for the second wild-card spot in the American League and 13½ games in back of the New York Yankees in the AL’s East Division, I think it’s safe to officially write off the Boston Red Sox as serious postseason contenders in 2012.
Those numbers would be pretty ugly for a team with 50 or 60 games left on the schedule, much less the 37 the Red Sox have remaining.
Thursday night’s 10-inning, 14-13 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim may well be the final nail in the coffin within which rests Boston’s playoff hopes. The Red Sox had leads of 6-0 after two innings, 9-8 after six frames and 11-9 after eight innings and couldn’t hold onto a one of them. The Angels came back to score eight runs in the third inning to erase the early lead, bounced back to tie the game at 9-9 in the top of the seventh and scored three runs in the top of the ninth to take a 12-11 lead that they couldn’t hang onto in the bottom half.
It was a devastating loss, one that allowed the Angels—who came into Fenway Park having lost four straight at home to the Tampa Bay Rays—to complete a sweep of their three-game set. Boston closer Alfredo Aceves took the loss to fall to 2-8 on the season after giving up five runs on six hits in one-plus innings. That came hours after starter Franklin Morales—staked to a 6-0 lead—couldn’t get out of the third inning.
But it’s what is happening in the front office that makes it apparent that the guys in the suits and ties have written off the season. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported this morning that the Red Sox have placed lefthander Jon Lester and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury on trade waivers (per CBSSports.com). That comes one day after the team placed one-time ace Josh Beckett on trade waivers, along with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (per boston.cbslocal.com).
It’s likely neither Beckett nor Gonzalez will actually move before the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. Even less likely was the possibility any team will put in a claim for Beckett, who is owed nearly $32 million for 2013 and 2014, however, Sean McAdam of Comcast Sports Net and CSNNE.com tweeted Friday afternoon that the Los Angeles Dodgers had been awarded a waiver claim on Beckett.
There may be some interest in Ellsbury or Gonzalez from a team looking to add a bat down the stretch (yes, National League West contenders, I’m looking at you), but any trade scenario involving either player would likely not happen until the offseason.
On the other hand, it’s not a huge stretch to see where Ellsbury could help the San Francisco Giants replace Melky Cabrera’s outfield bat down the stretch and it’s even less of one to see how enormous an upgrade Gonzalez would be over James Loney at first base for the Dodgers.
Bill Shaiken of the Los Angeles Times tweeted Friday afternoon that according to a source, the Dodgers had been awarded a waiver claim on Gonzalez.
The twin claims by the Dodgers gives the Red Sox 48 hours to either trade either or both to the Dodgers, allow them to leave without compensation with the Dodgers picking up both contracts in full or simply withdraw their names from waivers.
Still, I would be shocked if any of Boston’s big-name waiver bait was to move before next Friday.
However, if Boston management were holding out any realistic hope at all that the Red Sox would somehow be able to right the ship, find some way to dig out of the hole in which they’ve dug themselves and get back into contention, they wouldn’t be putting virtually every high-priced veteran on the roster on the trading block.
That would make three consecutive seasons Boston hasn’t been a part of the postseason festivities, a long stretch for a team that spent more than $162.7 million in payroll in 2010, more than $161.4 million in 2011 and more than $173.1 million this season.
Almost $500 million spent in player salaries to not make the playoffs three straight seasons? Maybe that explains why the front office has a revolving door between the clubhouse and the waiver wire.