It’s been 13 years since the Red Sox suffered a losing season. In that time, they’ve broken a curse and brought two World Series to Beantown. For the last 13 years, it hasn’t been, at the very least, disappointing to be a Red Sox fan.
Fans of the Orioles, Royals, and Pirates are envious.
The Birds from Baltimore haven’t won since the Red Sox lost, last finishing above .500 in 1997. The O’s just fired their sixth manager since that winning year, and there doesn’t seem to be a bright spot in Camden Yards. Baltimore opened the 2010 season with promise, but began the year 2-16 and now currently sit at an MLB-worst 15-40.
Injuries are partially to blame for the tough start, with star second baseman Brian Roberts on the DL since the fourth game of the season and a handful of bullpen pitchers ailing. The Orioles also own some young talent in catcher Matt Wieters and center fielder Adam Jones, whom they need to get more production out of if they hope to win games.
The Royals have been the running joke of the MLB for a while now, even though they finished on the right side of the win column in 2003, turning in an 83-79 season. Since then, though, Kansas City has only avoided the basement of the AL Central once — and that was by one game in 2008. The Royals also fired their manager this year, replacing Trey Hillman with former Brewers skipper Ned Yost, and are hoping a new leader will spark change in the right direction.
Starting pitcher Zack Greinke starts the Royals’ positives, giving the club one of the league’s best pitchers. That is unfortunately where most of the good stops for Kansas City, though it currently boasts a solid infield duo of third baseman Alberto Callaspo and first baseman Billy Butler, both of whom have at least 30 RBIs. The Royals also benefit from a strong farm system, so all the years of cellar-dwelling have a chance to pay off soon.
Pittsburgh seems just as lost as the other two clubs, and they have not finished above .500 since 1992. Somehow, despite 17 straight losing seasons, the Pirates have not been able to put together a roster to overtake the perennial NL Central powers. The Bucs struggle both on the mound and at the plate, and it seems like much of the same for them at 22-32 this year.
Garrett Jones is the only Pirate with over 19 RBIs, and starter Paul Maholm is the only pitcher in the rotation with an ERA below 5.40. Pittsburgh has struggled to make sound personnel decisions, often trading away their stars just as they hit their stride (Jason Bay, Xavier Nady). If the Pirates can train some up-and-comers in the minors and actually hold on to them, they could see their 82nd win in the near future.
So, as Kristin from Belmont, Mass., asks, are which struggling franchise is the closest to turning it around? If it’s the Orioles, text “SOX1” to 542542. If it’s the Royals, text “SOX2” to 542542. If it’s the Pirates, text “SOX3” to 542542.