The Sox are not a hungry team. That became apparent this week. After taking 3 of 4 from the White Sox, paced by three Cody Ross homers, they reverted to '12 form by dropping three to the last place Blue Jays.
This squad reminds me a bit of Ralph Houk's teams of the early 80's-win some games, contend for a while, fade in September, and finish a few games over .500. "Contending" is much easier now with the two wild cards. At present, Boston is still within striking distance of both wild cards. But that hardly makes them a good team.
The Bosox need a jolt. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford have returned, but the team still appears to be floundering without a leader. Ross is the closest they have right now, but he is hardly Carl Yastrzemski in '67. Big Papi is missed a great deal, but despite his stats, he is not really the man they need. There are several potential leaders, but I can't see any.
Lacking a leader, I'd like to see the Sox do something else. The "jolt" I'm talking about is trading Josh Beckett. I've gotten to the point now that when he and fellow underachiever Jon Lester start, I turn off the TV for 15-20 minutes. More often than not, when it goes back on, the score is 4-0 or worse. Beckett's first inning ERA is 10.69, and I'm sure Lester's is not far behind. But unlike Lester, the losses don't seem to affect Beckett. When questioned about performances, he offers bland excuses or none at all.
Given his contract, the deal may not be easy. The team will not get as much as they want for Beckett, maybe only good prospects and a second-line player. But with the Sox in last place and facing a rough schedule, this may be their only chance to salvage the season. If Andrew Baily can be a closer, Alfredo Aceves could return to the rotation.
Theo Epstein was not afraid to deal Nomar and Manny before the trade deadline, and both those trades were successful. Ben Cherington should show some toughness, make deals and face the consequences. Cherington is seen by many now as a rather weak leader. This could totally change his image.