My question to you would be: What other choice did the Red Sox have? With Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Mike Cameron all done for the year, the Sox had to use younger guys for most of the season, from guys like Daniel Nava to Ryan Kalish to Jed Lowrie. Would you rather have had more of Bill Hall or Darnell McDonald in center field in the last couple of months? Or would you rather have seen Kalish there?
Sure, part of the reason that some of the younger guys (Kalish, Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson, Lowrie) have played more has been that the Red Sox would like to get at least a sense of how they'll perform in the majors. But the Red Sox also understand that September (and spring training) are the worst times of the year to judge players. In many ways, the Red Sox didn't have a choice. For example, with Scutaro ailing, they had to move him to second base and Lowrie was the logical choice to play at shortstop in his place. Perhaps the only place you could quibble with their usage is with Anderson over Lowell at first base. But, again, Lowell is also dealing with multiple injuries that have cut into the time he can spend on the field.
I think there was realism in the way the Red Sox treated the end of the season, but I am also not exactly sure how they could have significantly altered their player choices down the stretch to keep themselves closer to the Yankees. Ask Amalie, Boston.com, 9-28-2010
This team played with such grit and tenacity that I can't help but think about what they might have accomplished this season with even Pedroia and Youkilis still in the lineup, let alone all the other guys they lost.
In the end, the injury list was too long. As a guy in a gray hoodie has been known to say, it is what it is. But this season still came down to the very last week, and I think that's saying a lot, given the circumstances.
Even leaving aside all the players they lost earlier this season, the ones who are still on the field might not be there with a healthier club around them. Look at what Marco Scutaro has been playing through. Mike Lowell is a hobbling shadow of his former self -- I look at his upcoming retirement with as much relief for him as sadness that he'll be gone. I lost track of the number of times I was sure V-Mart was finally going to come out of a game as he grimaced with pain on the field, but he didn't. That guy caught big league fastballs with a cast on his thumb under his glove last month and still found time for light-hearted slapper fights with Adrian Beltre to make sure we all stayed entertained.
Terry Francona kept this team motivated even as their chances dwindled to nothing -- I'm surprised he could remember everybody's name with the number of players that have been through that clubhouse this season, and somehow he's kept them pulling together and putting up a fight in the toughest division in baseball.
And you're lying if you say you thought at any point before August that David Ortiz could be finishing the year with 30 homers and 100 RBI. No, I'm sorry, you just are. But he did.
Sunday, they came within moments of sweeping the Yankees and actually keeping things in limbo in the East untill the very last days of the season. Even tonight, things came down to the very last play. For all the drama over those who've failed to earn True Dirt Dog Status this year, there have been plenty of players quietly playing through pain and under pressure, as we insist they must. Do we feel this is so obvious and simple a thing to do that it does not deserve acknowledgement, given how we punish the ones who fail to live up to this standard? Is it really so naive and simple-minded also to appreciate what the players who've been left have actually accomplished?
I haven't seen anyone make more than a high-level argument about what exactly is meant by the Red Sox "giving up" down the stretch. Nobody I've seen commenting to this effect in the last two days has named names in terms of who the Red Sox should've gotten and what they'd be willing to give up in return, or specifically how the lineup or rotation or bullpen should've been managed differently -- there have been little but general statements about how they should've "done more." But what?