Theo feels playoffs are a longshot

Posted Aug. 03, 2010, at 10:10 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 03, 2010, at 2:19 p.m.

    There are times when you simply have to recoup your losses and move on.

That is what Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein has done.

By not acquiring a desperately-needed reliever at the trading deadline, Epstein basically said this season is a lost cause and it’s time to look toward 2011.

To many of you, this is unacceptable. But you have to face the facts.

This team is simply incapable of stringing together a stretch run to catch the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, who entered Tuesday’s play tied for first in the American League East as well as for the wild card spot, 6½ games ahead of the Red Sox. They were seven up on the Sox in the loss column.

In order for the Red Sox to catch one of them, they would have to reel off a remarkable stretch of wins while one of the other two collapsed.

New York’s potent lineup and Tampa Bay’s impressive and deep starting pitching eliminate any chance of one of them taking a significant nosedive.

And the Red Sox, with their injuries and disastrous middle relief corps, aren’t capable of putting together a 15-3 stretch.

They haven’t been able to mop up on the lightweights as exhibited by Monday night’s 6-5 loss to lowly Cleveland.

The Red Sox were just 14-13 against the four teams with the worst records in the American League: Seattle (2-2), Baltimore (6-5), Cleveland (2-3) and Kansas City (4-3).

Had the Red Sox been within a couple games of the wild card spot and with all of their injured players back in the lineup, I’m sure he would have made a deal for a reliever or two.

He will never publicly admit that he has given up on their playoff chances.

But he simply doesn’t want to trade away top prospects for a long shot at the playoffs.

There is usually a silver lining in a season like this and those silver linings have included promising young outfielders Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish, who could vie for full-time duty next year. They could also be used as trade bait.

Epstein was able to obtain 25-year-old catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers to supply them with depth behind the plate and a possible power threat.

The fact the Red Sox entered Tuesday’s play 14 games above .500 is a noteworthy accomplishment in a season that has seen an almost comical parade to the disabled list.

Check out these numbers:

Boston’s five offensive catalysts entering the season were David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez. They had played a combined 349 games before Tuesday and Youkilis became the latest to go on the DL. .

Tampa Bay’s five catalysts (Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Ben Zobrist, Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton) had played in 501 games and New York’s big five of Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher had appeared in 510.

Epstein should use the rest of the season as a period of player evaluation.

He will have a busy off-season including making decisions on whether or not to re-sign slugger David Ortiz, the surprising Adrian Beltre and closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Ortiz, written off by most including me after another slow start, has bounced back nicely and should be offered a two-year deal. Beltre has been the team’s MVP and should be offered a long-term deal. Papelbon has been a little inconsistent but is still worthy of a two or three-year contract.

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