Boston Red Sox

Jul 30, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (10) pitches during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

In the simplest sense, as the trade deadline looms, there is no mystery with the 2019 Red Sox. In the short term and the long, the Red Sox continue to lose with what should be their best.

The culprit this time was David Price, behind whom the Red Sox are now 0-3 since Price needlessly resurrected his feud with Dennis Eckersley. And regardless of whether or not those events are linked, the obvious point is that Price wasted valuable energy on something other than getting the Red Sox into the playoffs, which remains in doubt with 54 games now to go, precisely one-third of the baseball season.

Fact: The Red Sox are now 9-11 behind Price this season and just 8-14 behind Chris Sale, a combined record of 17-25 that would translate into roughly 66-96 over a 162-game schedule. More importantly, the Sox are just 1-3 behind Price and Sale since beginning their 14-game gauntlet against New York and Tampa Bay – and 5-0 behind everybody else.

Think about that for a minute.

“We haven’t put our best foot forward yet,” Price told reporters last night, speaking of the team in general. “That’s a good sign considering where we are in the standings right now. I look forward to seeing what happens tomorrow. I think everybody else does, too.”

A good sign? Well, perhaps. But for someone who has as sour a disposition as Price, that is absurdly optimistic. With the Red Sox possessing the highest team payroll in baseball, we shouldn’t be debating the contents of the glass. It should be filled to the rim – much like the coffers of the two men who will soon be the highest-paid players on the Red Sox.

OK, so we’re jumping the gun a little. Sale’s new five-year, $145 million contract ($29 million per) will not kick into effect until next season, but you get the idea. The Red Sox are built around Sale and Price, not necessarily in that order, in both the short term and the long. Price ($31M per) was here first and makes more. Beyond this season, he still has three years remaining on an original seven-year, $217 million contract.

Has Price been bad this year? No, not at all. At least not until recently, which just so happens to be the most important stretch of the season. But the mere fact that the Red Sox are on the outside looking in – out of the playoffs at the moment – is an indictment on a team that obviously has a far higher ceiling.

Whatever the reasons, the facts are what they are: the Red Sox don’t win behind their best pitchers. At the same time, they are an incredible 42-24 behind everyone else, a winning percentage that would translate into 103 victories, just shy of the 108 they posted last year.

Get the picture? The difference between the Red Sox of 2018 and 2019 is simple.

Their best, highest-paid pitchers are failing them.

And if they are going to change course this season as we enter August and September, that muct change if they have any intention of playing into October.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.