You might think broken bones were contagious. The Red Sox currently have 9 players on the DL, 5 of whom have broken bones. While Boston waits for its injured stars to heal, fans find themselves tuning into NESN and seeing the likes of Eric Patterson, Daniel Nava, Bill Hall, Darnell McDonald and Kevin Cash all starting on a fairly regular basis. On paper that bodes ill for the Red Sox' playoff hopes in 2010, but a glance at the standings finds them with the fourth-best record in the majors and still very much in the hunt for both the division title and the wild card. Perhaps even more incredibly, these bruised and battered Red Sox lead the league in runs scored with 453, 14 more than the supposedly superior Yankee offense. Perhaps the 2010 Sox will be alright after all.
Or perhaps they won't. Bear in mind that many of their injuries are fairly recent, meaning the impact of the loss of the regulars may not have hit home yet. That's not a knock on any of the backups. I'm only stating the obvious: the backups are not as good as the starters. They may be playing well at the moment (Patterson had 2 HRs last night), but over the course of the six-ish weeks until the stars return, they will be exposed. None of them are fit be everyday players, in large part because they do not have the ability to make adjustments at the plate as opposing pitchers adjust to them. Just ask Nick Green. What does that mean for this year's Red Sox? It means that the Red Sox have to hope that opposing teams take a while to adjust, or the Sox' offense will suffer. In that event, without a corresponding step-up from the pitching staff, the Red Sox may find themselves significantly behind several very good teams in playoff hunt when the regulars return from the DL. (That means not blowing 5-1 leads against division rivals, Mr. Matsuzaka.)