We knew “The Road Trip” was coming. We knew it would make or break the season. Still, it’s hard to believe that our worst fears have come true and the Sox hopes for an October surprise are now awfully remote, if not next-to-impossible.
While it’s not a complete surrender for 2009, the trades of Thome to the Dodgers and Contreras to the Rockies at the deadline are a signal that the Sox are ready to move on. It was unlikely Thome would be back next year anyway and the way Jose has performed recently his future wasn’t on the South Side either. If you really think about it, if the rest of the club was playing well right now we could win the division without these two.
Thome is one of the great guys in the game and his numbers place him in a position to be among the greats in Cooperstown. That said, his almost four-year tenure with the Sox was a mixed bag. On one hand, we’ll never forget his homer in the tiebreaker against the Twins last year to send us to the playoffs. And there were many other memorable blasts, including his 500th homer and subsequent ones that moved him up the HR ladder, but there were so many times he disappointed. As I’ve said in this space before, when a clutch double was needed he grounded out to short right field or took that all-too-familiar jaunt back to the dugout after a strikeout.
We’ll remember Jose primarily for 2005: His 15-7 record with a fine 3.61 ERA in, his 17-game winning streak that spanned ’05 and ’06, his victories in the division series, LCS and World Series and his complete game in the LCS to send the Sox to the World Series–the fourth consecutive complete game by a Sox pitcher. But the sad fact is that it seemed Jose lost his confidence and simply became a detriment to the ball club. He only started against the Yankees last Saturday because there were no other viable options.
It’s almost unfathomable to envision that the Sox, the way they are performing, will make a run the rest of the way. But I’ll say it again: If the rest of the club starts playing up to expectations and goes on a roll there’s no doubt in my mind that we can win without Thome and certainly without Contreras.