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Sports

March 30, 2011

Red Flops

1Call me cynical or call me pessimistic, but I think your Red Sox are overrated and far from a shoo-in to even win the American League East, much less roll to their third World Series title of the modern era.

Although their lineup is a bit overloaded with lefties, I like the Red Sox everyday lineup. It is stacked top to bottom.

But where most Red Sox fans have lost their way is when it comes to breaking down their pitching. It isn't that good. And I'm talking about all of them, starters and relievers.

Starting with the five-man rotation, I see a bunch of problems. Jon Lester is clearly a star with tremendous "stuff," and Clay Buchholz may be in the same category. But Buchholz hasn't shown he can be effective on a yearly basis and his performance against the Marlins last week (4 innings, 11 hits, 4 home runs) is troubling.

John Lackey has shown that he can pitch a lot of innings, but he rarely has a standout performance and he is not much better than an average No. 3 pitcher.

And then the real problems.

Josh Beckett is coming off the worst year of his career and hasn't shown much in spring training (5.02 earned run average) and Daisuke Matsuzaka, while better recently, has a 6.05 ERA and once again has had some maddening control problems.

It's a shaky starting five by any measure, which is one reason why the Sox — like nearly every team outside of Philadelphia — are shopping around for pitching depth.

And please don't mention Tim Wakefield as a backup. He's a nice guy, and a good clubhouse "presence," but he hasn't been effective on a consistent basis for years.

Yes, Wakefield can still confound batters on occasion, but that's becoming rarer and rarer as he's shown during spring training. In his first four appearances, he gave up 16 hits and 11 runs. Out of loyalty, the Sox will probably keep him on board all summer, but they shouldn't.

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