Opinion: For slumping Red Sox, it’s hard to find a scapegoat

Dustin Pedroia Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox haven’t been able to get out of their own way of late. Credit: Getty Images

So, this after-party is kind of a dud, huh?

The 2013 Red Sox season was that kick-ass ripper that no one ever wanted to end, but now – in the dreaded year-after – it seems as though we’ll be taking nothing but Tylenol and Pedialyte to get us through the summer.

The odds weren’t on Boston’s side from the beginning of this season, of course, as no team has won back-to-back World Series titles since the 2000 Yankees. And even the most die-hard of Sox fans would have to admit that the 2013 Red Sox were not nearly as talented as the ’99 Yanks.

Heading into last night’s nationally televised game in Detroit, the Sox once again held the longest losing streak in baseball (tied at five games with the Mets). Just two weeks ago, the same deal. Few teams in MLB could keep up with the Sox in terms of being on the wrong side of the scoring slate.

The mounting losses are not likely the product of weak effort – which is why it’s probably unfair for this team to be booed later this week at Fenway. But there absolutely has to be some subconscious relaxation period going on here for many players who led the Sox to glory last year.

Part of the problem for fans this season is that there’s not really any one person, in particular, to blame for the horrid record. It’s hard to complain too much about the big name guys – David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, John Lackey – as they’re all having adequate seasons. There are even some young players that have stepped up of late – Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Rubby De La Rosa.

A.J. Pierzynski is surely “boo-able” in some fans’ eyes, but the facts say he’s fourth among AL catchers in RBIs, is on the radar for an All-Star selection and is basically doing what most thought he would do before the season began – irritate some, but hit .275 and drive in runs. Stephen Drew, he with the .091 batting average, is an easy target for holding out so long. But his agent, Scott Boras, deserves the chunk of that blame. And it’s highly unlikely that the boo birds will have the opportunity to chastise him when he’s in the field at Fenway later this week, because he won’t be making any mistakes at short anytime soon.

That’s why all of the blame for the team’s poor record should be heaped on Daniel Nava. Really, Daniel? A grand total of three RBIs in 86 at-bats this season? Cesar Crespo could hit that in his sleep and … oh, forget it. Harping on poor Daniel is just too damn mean. What should we really expect of him?

There’s just really no one to point the finger at … and that’s frustrating. So maybe we’ll just have to sit back, complain mildly about this 2014 team as a whole, but never get too carried away. They’re simply not as good as the 2013 group because the 2013 group was a team that set out to right wrongs. Subconsciously, at the start of this season, there were no more wrongs to right.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS


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