Have These Boston Losses Been a Violation of the 8th Amendment?

Where the hell is the 8th Amendment when you need it most? You know what I’m talking about …. That little thing the founding fathers inserted in the Constitution to protect citizens from cruel and unusual punishments. I’m not going to argue that the 8th covers discrete (and frequent) meltdowns like the one Boston suffered Thursday afternoon, but shouldn’t it protect a fan from experiencing TWO of those within 30 hours of one another? Screw the district court of Eastern Mass and screw the First Circuit Court of Appeals ….  I am appealing this one straight to the big guys.

There were plenty of minor figures who played a role in last night’s loss but most of the blame lies at the feet of Josh Beckett who let the Rangers off the mat and proved once again that he can’t be trusted against good AL lineups. Staked with a six run lead after 3.5, Beckett should have rolled. And the “2007 Beckett” would have had little trouble pitching with that lead. But the “2010 Beckett” is a shell of his old self and he managed to surrender three bombs and two-thirds of that six-run lead before he was yanked after five. Beckett’s defense team will surely claim that balls were flying last night and that played a roll in Beckett’s demise but that is a total cop out. I’m sorry, but Beckett is paid to be a guy who misses bats and induces weak contact. And no matter the conditions, weak contact doesn’t leave the yard. But there was nothing weak about the contract that was made off Beckett last night. Ten hits in five innings is hardly weak and while Michael Young may have snaked a cheap one around the RF pole, Mitch Moreland launched a canon shot and Hamilton CRUSHED a tater to right-center that would have been out in a 20 degree ice storm.   

All told, Beckett was a disaster and quite frankly, despite all the cockiness he displays, I think the guy has lost his confidence. And he certainly has lost his ability to paint the edge as he is catching way too much of the plate. Moreover, his vaunted two-seamer, which he has used in the past to neutralize lefties, is simply no longer a credible weapon. At least it hasn’t been in the loss last Sunday to New York and the loss last night. Sure, Beckett can still get it done against challenged offenses like Cleveland and Seattle, but he now looks over-matched against teams that can rake. This has to be keep Theo Epstein up at night because if 2010 isn’t some anomaly, and I’m not sure it is, Epstein may be on the hook for handing out one of the two or three most ill-timed extensions in recent baseball history.

Other than Beckett, there are plenty of bit players who figured into last night’s defeat. Drew was slated to be a hero with two bombs of his own but he gave those runs back by misplaying one ball and shying away from another. The latter wasn’t an easy play but the former was a layup and had he sunk that shot, the Sox probably would have won. Beyond Drew, the offense went to sleep after it’s third inning outburst, the pen wasn’t great, Lowrie hardly distinguished himself on a play that Dallas exploited to tie the game and the heart of Boston’s lineup went 3-16 on an SAT night where you got 4-16 for just signing your name. Add it all up, and you had the Rangers coming all the way back and once they had evened things up, it was inevitable that the Sox were leaving the park with a loss.

The silver lining is both New York and Tampa lost but that is small consolation for a club that is trying to mount a comeback and not run out the clock. And now, Ellsbury looks cooked, the pen is spent and any momentum the Sox had coming out of Wednesday night is long gone. Funny how quickly things can change. Sixty hours ago, this club looked like it was ready to launch an assault. And now …. Fans are left to wonder if their constitutional rights have been assaulted.

JACOBY ELLSBURY

If Ellsbury misses a significant amount of time, or God forbid the balance of the season, because of that seemingly harmless collision last night, he might as well clean out his Boston apt this Fall because he won’t be coming back next April. There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about this case. Ellsbury has simply blown up and if the damage wasn’t irreparable before, it certainly will be if Ellsbury hits the DL AGAIN.

It’s interesting to think about how much this season has cost Ellsbury as he is headed to arbitration this Winter. Had he just repeated his 2009 numbers in 2010- .355 OBP and 70 steals – Ellsbury probably would have been in line for $3-4M in 2011. With normal years after that, and using 2011 as a base, Ellsbury may have been in line for ~6M in 2012 and ~8M in 2013. So let’s call it $17-18M over the next three years. Now? Well, if Ellsbury misses a chunk of time coming home and finishes with his current numbers, he will be in line for a million bucks next year. And off that lowered base, even a recovery will net him no more than $10M in 2012 and 2013 combined.  So the 2010 debacle has probably cost Ellsbury $7-8M in arbitration compensation and double that in reputation.      

ODDS AND ENDS

* I’m too lazy to look it up but does David Ortiz ever get a hit off Darren Oliver? It turns out he is actually 2-12 but doesn’t it feel a whole lot more like 1-14?

* Can Jon Papelbon keep anyone from stealing second?

* The Sox didn’t do much with him but isn’t Naftalli Feliz supposed to be a 99 MPH guy? He was stuggling to hit 94 last night.

*Josh Hamilton is absolutely locked in right now and he has my August 14th vote for MVP. On the flip side of that …. Vald sickens me. I have never liked that guy and have long thought he is lazy and has one of the lowest baseball IQs in the game.  He does things so poorly and ugly that it seems unfair to reward him but again last night, two unbelievably cheap hits showed up on his line.

FARM REPORT: On a night where nothing went right for the parent, the kids held up their end of the bargain by losing across the board. There were a handful of bright spots …. Lars had a couple of hits, Lavarnway had two knocks, and there was some good pitching at the bottom of the food chain. But given this injury to Ellsbury, its worth pointing out that Josh Reddick had three more hits last night and given his scorching August, he may be in line to fill Ellsbury’s shoes. I guess the Sox could go to Hermida, a sickening thought, and Nava is also in the picture, but nobody down below is hitting the ball like Reddick right now. Perhaps the third time will be the charm for Reddick and he could take this opportunity and run with it. Let me tell you, if Reddick came up and hit, Ellsbury’s coffin would be sealed.

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