BOSTON — When you start 4-9 and put forth some of the most unsightly stat lines in baseball, it might be time to put some heads together. That's exactly what happened Tuesday at Fenway Park, where Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona met with coaches and team officials to get to the bottom of the club's miserable start.
"It's not like we lost faith in all of our players all of a sudden," Epstein said. "That's not the way it is. We believe in these guys. But at the same time you can be realistic about it and recognize we haven't been worth a [expletive] so far. We haven't played well at all so far."
The meeting came on the heels of a four-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, a series which offered almost no positives whatsoever, aside from a few admirable relief performances. It ended on Patriots' Day with the Red Sox showcasing some of the more shocking numbers in baseball, especially when you consider the club's expectations.
In their five straight losses, the Red Sox have committed eight errors while scoring nine runs. They are hitless in their last 32 at bats with runners in scoring position. Opponents have successfully stolen 21 of 22 bases. Boston has not held a lead in 48 innings. Five regulars are hitting .219 or lower.
Both Epstein and Francona talked about how there is no hiding from the poor play. It is ubiquitous.
With 149 games remaining, however, there is plenty of time for a turnaround. Based on the talk around the park Tuesday, it has reached a critical juncture.
"This is a time for us to show what we're made of," Francona said. "We're results oriented. The results have been horrendous."
The get-together coincided with the team placing both center fielder Mike Cameron and left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury on the 15-day disabled list. Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald were brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket to take their places. Reddick was immediately put into the starting lineup in center, one of the positions that's been a headache at times this year.
Both Cameron and Bill Hall have committed errors out there already, and both have mismanaged other plays which have ended up hurting the club. Boston has 10 errors overall, third most in the American League.
"That's one of the things we haven't been doing well," Epstein said of the team's defense. "It's even the routine plays. That's the most important thing you can do: make the routine play. There have been games where we have lost because we haven't made the routine play. So it starts there."
Epstein, of course, made a series of moves this offseason designed to tighten the team defense. After a year which saw the Sox slip in several defensive categories, the term "run prevention" became trendy amid the club's restructuring.
The GM did not waver when pressed on the early results and remains confident the plan will work in the long run. Defense is only one of the ills, however.
"I think we'll be fine. Long term, [defense won't] be our issue," Epstein said. "We're gonna catch the ball well and start playing team defense. The disappointing thing is we haven't done anything well. To be honest with you, we're not pitching, we're not hitting, we're not playing team defense, we're not running the bases well. So take your pick."
It was easy pickings for the Rays this weekend. Perhaps a little brainstorming session by the Red Sox brass will start the turnaround. As Epstein said himself, "It's gotta start soon."