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Why the 2012 Red Sox Should Throw in the Towel

Josh Beckett After Loss to Nationals (Getty)

The last place Boston Red Sox, now 6.5 games out of first place in the American League East, have reached a breaking point.

The team, since last September, has won 38 games and lost 52 (14 games under .500). In other words, they are a bad baseball team.

With the Yankees surging, the Orioles playing well, and Tampa Bay poised to make a run deep into September and October, the Red Sox are at best a fourth place team in their division, and they show no signs of changing that.

Over the last 89 games, more than half a season, the Red Sox have proven to us that they didn’t just have a one month hiccup in September. They didn’t just have a slow start to 2012. Instead, given this substantial sample size, we can make the assertion that the Red Sox are what they are: bad.

Here’s why they’re bad:

Pitching Staff

Their pitching staff boasts a 4.40 ERA, tied for 26th in the league. It’s time we finally admitted that Jo\n Lester is never going to become what we want him to: an elite, number one, ace-of-the-staff type of pitcher.

Josh Beckett will never be, for a full season, what he was in 2007. He’s too stubborn, arrogant, and lazy to ever regain the dominance he once experienced.

In short, the Red Sox don’t have an ace, and they need to do anything they can to find one.

Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis is hurting the team both on and off the field. His .219 batting average and injury-prone game is impeding the team’s progress. His off-the-field attitude, umpire crusade, and his negative effect on the lineup (see Gonzalez in the outfield) have all contributed to the need to trade Youk as soon as possible.

Bobby V

Their manager, Bobby Valentine, is only signed to a two-year contract. This let’s the players know that if there’s another September-like nose-dive, Valentine would be easily expendable and could be fired, or at the very least, not renewed when his contract expires.

The best thing to do would be to restructure his contract to make it a long-term deal, letting the players know that his presence is not temporary, or fire him now and move on to a more stable solution.

Team Attitude

There are far too many ornery, entitled veteran players on the team. Between Youkilis, Ortiz (even though he’s hitting) and Beckett, the Red Sox have a serious motivation problem.

Bringing in a player as lackadaisical and comfortable as Alfonso Soriano (as rumored) would only contribute to the culture problem on the team.

The Sox need more players like Will Middlebrooks and Felix Doubront, not the other way around.

Here’s what they can do to fix it:

Become Sellers

Speaking of making new acquisitions, the Sox should be major sellers this season, and no one should be off limits.

Dustin Pedroia seems to be infinitely protected by the Boston fans and media, but his attitude toward Bobby Valentine and management has not helped this club. If a team overwhelms the Red Sox with an offer for someone like Pedroia, or a younger player like Middlebrooks or Dubront, the team should consider it, especially if it brings you good young pitching.

Labeling players as off-limits restricts the team’s creativity when it comes to trades, and if Hanley Ramirez was off limits, the Sox would have never won the World Series in 2007.

Trade Ellsbury

To that point, the team’s most gifted athlete, Jacoby Ellsbury, will have an expiring contract in a year and a half. While the Red Sox most likely won’t re-sign him, given how much money they’ve locked up in the already fragile Carl Crawford and the underperforming Adrian Gonzalez, Ellsbury should not only be on the trade block, he should be shopped on the trade block. If there was ever a way to bolster the team’s farm system or land a Major-League-ready young pitcher, Ellsbury is it.

Looking Forward

If it’s not clear by now that the Red Sox should be looking toward the future, it never will be, and it’s time to take action before next year begins to mirror this one.

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