Donaldson: Patience already gone for Red Sox

May 13 2011 - 3:48pm

You can have patience.

No, I mean you really can have patience.

Because I've had enough of it.

More than enough, really.

I've flat out, run out of patience.

At least with the overpaid, underachieving, and still -- as they have been all season -- under-.500 Boston Red Sox.

This has gotten ridiculous.

It's early, it's early, it's early.

That's what the Sox, preaching patience, have been saying.

Well, it's not early anymore.

Not that it's late, mind you.

There's still a long, long way to go in this 2011 season. But, 37 games in -- of which the Red Sox have lost 20 -- what was supposed to be a cakewalk has morphed into a death march.

What was predicted to be a joyride has turned into the equivalent of being stuck in a traffic jam in 95-degree temperatures with an air conditioner that isn't working.

Most pundits predicted that the Red Sox would win the A.L. East, then the pennant, then play the Phillies in the World Series.

The Phils, so far, are holding up their end of the bargain. Their .667 ball is best in the majors. As for Boston, they're tied for last with Toronto, trailing both the Yankees -- with whom they open a three-game series Friday night in the Bronx -- and Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox didn't just stumble out of the starting gate, they fell flat on their collective faces, starting the season with a six-game losing streak -- one they've yet to dig out from under.

Here it is, the middle of May, and the Red Sox have yet to get to .500 for even a single day all season.

It's as if the struggling Sox have been trying to climb a mountain. The way they've been playing, it's a mountain that's beginning to look like Everest.

Four times, the Sox have climbed to within a game of .500. Each time, they've lost and slipped back.

With the Red Sox, you feel only frustration. And perhaps, lately, a bit of anger, too.

A ticket to Fenway sells for the highest average price in all of baseball: $53.38. The Yankees are next, at $51.83. The Boston payroll of $161.7 million is third in MLB, behind only the Phillies' ($173 million) and Yankees' ($202.6 million).

If you paid top dollar for steak, wouldn't you be upset if it was fatty and tough? If you bought a bottle of wine for $100, would you be happy if it tasted like vinegar?

The Red Sox aren't giving us our money's worth.

And so, as they keep losing games, I've been losing patience.

I've lost patience with a team that has a payroll of almost $162 million and a winning percentage of .459.

I've certainly lost patience with John Lackey, Boston's latest losing pitcher. He gave up nine runs in 6.2 innings Wednesday night in Toronto as his record dropped to 2-5 and his already-bloated ERA rose even further, to 8.01.

And this is a guy who's being paid almost $16 million this season.

J.D. Drew is getting $14 million for hitting .242. I've lost patience with him, too.

I've lost patience with veteran catcher Jason Varitek, who too often looks overmatched at the plate, as evidenced by his .154 batting average in 18 games.

Nor is Boston's other backstop, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, tearing the cover off the ball. Long-coveted -- for who knows what reason -- by Boston GM Theo Epstein, he's right at the Mendoza Line, batting exactly .200 in 25 games.

Neither Varitek nor Saltalamacchia has hit a home run this season, in a combined 127 at-bats.

I'm even losing patience with my favorite Red Sox player, the gritty and gutsy Dustin Pedroia, whose average has dipped to .237. And Kevin Youkilis, too. He's batting just .241.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter caught some heat a couple of months back for saying: "I'd like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll."

But what was wrong with that, really? While arguably impolite, was Showalter incorrect?

I've long said that the Red Sox GM can, literally, afford to make mistakes. Given the size of Boston's considerable coffers, Epstein can throw money at any problem. Which is not the same, necessarily, as solving the problem.

So I'm losing patience with him, too.

I had been losing patience with Carl Crawford, who was lured to Boston by a seven-year, $142-million contract and hit a pathetic .155 for the month of April.

But he has hit safely in every game this month, all of 11 of 'em, and so has raised his average to .218.

Similarly, Jacoby Ellsbury, after a slow start (he was batting .190 on April 22), went on a 19-game hitting streak that just ended in Toronto, and now is batting .292.

Thankfully, Adrian Gonzalez has been every bit as good as advertized. He leads the team in batting (.329), homers (7) and RBI (29.)

Among the starters, Josh Beckett is pitching well, as is Jon Lester. Clay Buchholz should come around. Dice-K is, as always, dicey, and Lackey will have to improve to even be lackluster.

But there is hope for the Red Sox.

I most certainly have not given up hope that this season will turn out, in the end, the way Boston fans thought it would -- with a pennant in hand, and an October date with the Phillies.

I am, however, most definitely losing patience as the losses continue to pile up.


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