It is very much true that poor pitching is the main culprit for why the 2011 Boston Red Sox are off to its most awful start in decades and have the worst record in baseball at 2-9 coming into tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Rays (which has just been postponed due to rain in Boston). Who's at fault for the gross number of runs given up? Most of the starting staff, including John Lackey (who gave up nine runs to Texas last week) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (who surrendered seven the other day) along with the gawd awful bullpen, of course. Certainly, manager Terry Francona, nor upper management can be blamed for putting on the field the one part of the Red Sox team this year that was supposed to be its strength (the pitching).
The offense too, has been well below par, and again, it's up to the veterans on the team to right the ship. But what Francona can be blamed for is his lineups. New Sox star left fielder Carl Crawford (2011 to date: .152 BA, .204 OBP and 2 SB in 46 at-bats) is a notorious slow starter, with a .274 career average for March/April, the lowest average of any month in his career, which until this year was spent entirely with the Rays.
So what has Francona been doing lately? He's been giving him MORE at-bats to struggle with, not LESS, by keeping him in the leadoff spot in the batting order (instead of dropping him further down in the order). In that spot, he has a .286 career average and a .321 on-base percentage, which is mediocre for that spot in the lineup. Batting second and third, he has .305 and .291 averages, respectively, and with much higher on-base percentages. Those are clearly the two spots in the batting order where Crawford belongs on a more permanent basis.