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   101. Nasty Nate Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4324674)
Fwiw..which is nothing...I had them on pace for 72 wins right before the trade and 70 after.


By "on pace," do you mean your prediction? Because, unless I was misreading it, they had a .472 winning percentage on the day the trade was made according to baseballreference.
   102. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4324711)
So, maybe this is the core of our differences. For me, the Sox won 69 games last year and traded away their star 1B. I don't think it was realistic to get back up to 92 wins in one season after the recent unpleasantness. I felt that a good offseason was one where the Sox find their way to about 85 wins, and have room to improve into the low 90s in 2014. A few wins out of the Wild Card this year would be pretty much fine.


If Scott Atchison continues to to be the best pitcher on staff by bWAR, then this team is well and truly ###### and will need to overhaul the roster. If Lester is truly a 0.4 bWAR pitcher, then they're ######. And if Buchholz is a 0.8 bWAR pitcher, then they're ######. A lot of this team's improvement MUST come from the good players they have playing like good players. They also need more than 90 games from Papi. To get to 85 wins, you have to expect vast improvements from a lot of people already on the team. I think the Sox plan this winter is that these guys must rebound. The offense was not a problem last year, despite all the wailing to the contrary. The pitching for the entire team was 1.2 bWAR. So the entire pitching staff was basically replacement level. That won't continue. If the position players are locked in, then the major upgrades will come on the mound. I fully expect the Sox to get some rotation help and if necessary to break the bank while doing so.
   103. Dan Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4324716)
That's true but I would feel better with Adrian Gonzalez than without him. Obviously he had a terrible year last year but I expect him to bounce back much the same way I expect Lester and Buchholz to bounce back.


Perhaps, but then you'd be looking at a team that was depending on huge bounce back seasons from all or most of: Gonzalez, Ellsbury, Beckett, Crawford, Lester, Buchholz, and Lackey. At some point you need to shed some of that risk, and if you can do so while also shedding $250M in payroll commitments over the next 5-6 years then you take that opportunity.
   104. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4324748)
Perhaps, but then you'd be looking at a team that was depending on huge bounce back seasons from all or most of: Gonzalez, Ellsbury, Beckett, Crawford, Lester, Buchholz, and Lackey. At some point you need to shed some of that risk, and if you can do so while also shedding $250M in payroll commitments over the next 5-6 years then you take that opportunity.


I'm not confident that Napoli/Victorino/Dempster is going to outperform Gonzalez/Crawford/Beckett this year. More importantly in my mind, I think there is virtually zero chance that any of those guys will perform at a star level while I think there is a real chance that any or all of the players traded away will perform at such a level. Napoli and Victorino both had down years last year so the Sox are still counting on bounce back years from players, it's just players with worse track records than the ones they gave up.

Those guys are gone though and I really don't give a damn what they do. I mean I like all three so I hope they succeed but whether or not they do I don't care. I really hope Napoli, Victorino and Dempster prove me spectacularly wrong though. I just don't see a big upside anywhere there.
   105. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:42 PM (#4324754)
The Sox aren't payroll-constrained, they're luxury-tax-constrained. Front-loading the deal won't really make any difference, because the AAV for the luxury tax calculation will remain the same.

In that case I really don't understand the "avoid long-term deals" strategy. Shorter deals should be worse on AAV, no?


2) The Sox are relatively safe from the luxury tax threshold in 2013 or 2014, so deals which impact those two seasons primarily don't constrain the Sox from going after other talent that happens to come available.


Would it be legal to 'fool' the LT AAV calculation by using something like a stupidly easy vesting option?

So if the premise is the team has lots of space under LT in '13 and '14 but are worried about years after that. Instead of 5/$130m for Hamilton, sign him to a 2/$70m deal with an additional 3/$60m option that automatically gets picked up if he records at least 1 PA in each of the first two seasons. LT hit for '13/'14 is $35m p.a. and $20m p.a. thereafter.

Would something like that even work? Or is the luxury tax like electrons going back in time to look like particles even if they were behaving like waves before you opened your eyes?
   106. Nasty Nate Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4324763)
I think there is virtually zero chance that any of those guys {Napoli/Victorino/Dempster} will perform at a star level while I think there is a real chance that any or all of the players traded away {Gonzalez/Crawford/Beckett} will perform at such a level.


Your prediction may be right, but if you were smoking at the objective pipe you would have to admit that this is an extremely pessimistic doom-and-gloom analysis. Crawford has a "real chance" of performing at a star level but there is "virtually zero" chance that any of the Sox guys do? C'mon.
   107. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4324764)
According to this piece at Philly.com it looks like vesting options count...somehow. The relevant example is Jimmy Rollins;


4. Jimmy Rollins' deal is recognized as four years, $38 million by MLB and the MLBPA. The fourth year is either an $11 million vesting option, an $8 million team option, or $5 million player option. Somehow, the contractual language makes it four years for accounting purposes. Thus, the AAV is $9.5 million instead of $11 million.


Rollins' deal is 3/33 with an assortment of vesting possibilities for a 4th year at 11 million per. The AAV seems to be getting calculated at a value of $5.5 for that 4th year. I don't know if that's a strict 50% of the $11 mil or some other calculation went into it.

The piece as a whole is pretty interesting.
   108. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4324767)

Your prediction may be right, but if you were smoking at the objective pipe you would have to admit that this is an extremely pessimistic doom-and-gloom analysis. Crawford has a "real chance" of performing at a star level but there is "virtually zero" chance that any of the Sox guys do? C'mon.


Not what I meant. Crawford would be the third most likely of that group but I still would put him ahead of any of the three signings in terms of likelihood. If I was ranking the six in terms of likelihood of a star caliber year I'd go;

Gonzalez
gap
Beckett
Crawford
Napoli
gap
Dempster
Victorino

I will say that re-reading my post it's a bit more pessimistic than I meant. I think Napoli/Victorino/Dempster, largely by virtue of being short deals, are unlikely to be bad deals. If Gonzalez/Beckett/Crawford flop that's catastrophic, if Napoli/Victorino/Dempster flop it's annoying.

And of course all this ignores de la Rosa/Webster/Sands who have the potential to make that trade look incredibly good.
   109. Nasty Nate Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4324776)
If I was ranking the six in terms of likelihood of a star caliber year I'd go;

Gonzalez
gap
Beckett
Crawford
Napoli
gap
Dempster
Victorino


I still find this wording to be pessimistic. I guess what sticks out is that you think Crawford has a much better chance of having a star season than Victorino. If either of them did have a star season, it would be in much the same way: decent OBP coupled with double digits of doubles-triples-homers, combined with excellent baserunning and outfielding. But why would you think this is much more likely from the guy who had an injury-lost 2012, a terrible 2011, and is coming off Tommy John surgery?

If I was ranking it, it would be Gonzalez - gap - everyone else in the same tier.
   110. Darren Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4324784)
Napoli and Victorino had star-quality years in 2011--more recently than Crawford did.
   111. Mattbert Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4324815)
I really hope Napoli, Victorino and Dempster prove me spectacularly wrong though. I just don't see a big upside anywhere there.

You don't see big upside for a guy who had the second-best OPS in the majors in 2011?
   112. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4324826)

I am starting to think that Michael Bourn on yet another 3/$39M type deal would be kind of awesome. You can't tell me a Victorino-Bourn-Ellsbury outfield wouldn't be ridiculously fun to watch.


Who plays left? If Ellsbury gets shifted there does that kill his trade value as well as his confidence, further lowering his trade value?
   113. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4324831)
But why would you think this is much more likely from the guy who had an injury-lost 2012, a terrible 2011, and is coming off Tommy John surgery?


Napoli and Victorino had You don't see big upside for a guy who had the second-best OPS in the majors in 2011?star-quality years in 2011--more recently than Crawford did.


You don't see big upside for a guy who had the second-best OPS in the majors in 2011?


All valid points and I'm probably being unfairly pessimistic. As far as Napoli I just think that was a fluke, not that he won't be good, but he's had his career year. Also, I'm still a believer in Carl Crawford, perhaps unrealistically so.

Victorino I'm probably just underrating. The numbers on him are certainly very good and I'd bet that most projection systems will put him ahead of Crawford. I just can't wrap my head around "Shane Victorino-Star". I guess I'm letting impression impact "analysis" (which is not a good word for what I did above).
   114. Nasty Nate Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4324832)
You don't see big upside for a guy who had the second-best OPS in the majors in 2011?


Ray told me that the word upside shouldn't be used this way, and that me listing Napoli's OPS ceiling as .100 lower than his 2011 somehow meant I was expecting a repeat of 2011.
   115. Mattbert Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4324835)
Who plays left? If Ellsbury gets shifted there does that kill his trade value as well as his confidence, further lowering his trade value?

Victorino plays left. Whoever has the stronger arm of the other two plays right (probably Ellsbury), but it doesn't matter much.
   116. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4324867)
Well, how would you define contending? Mediocre teams can contend now. It's a whole new world out there! It sounds like you will only be satisfied with a team that is projected to make the playoffs though, which is a different thing entirely.

Yes, although I didn't say that it had to be in 2013. If there's a clear plan that puts the Sox on track to project to make the playoffs in 2014, or even 2015, I would prefer that than what's going on now.

I think of it this way: the payroll flexibility they had at the beginning of the offseason was an opportunity. What could they do with it:

--One reasonable plan is to benefit from it primarily in the short term, say 2013/2014. Since the roster they started with this offseason was pretty bad, they would need (in my view, obviously) some high upside moves: signing Hamilton, outbidding the Jays in the Marlins deal, swinging some sort of J. Upton trade, etc. Is this strategy optimal, I don't know. But I'd be OK with it, it would make sense to me.

--Another reasonable plan is to decide that the farm system is too promising for 2014/2015-ish to expend resources on 2013 contention. In that case, they could use their financial flexibility to do the sort of moves I talked about in #87, acquiring guys who are likely to be in their prime when Bogaerts et al arrive. This would probably mean an ugly 2013 -- dealing Ellsbury, taking on some Jason Bay type albatross contracts, etc. -- but I'd be OK with the plan, it would make sense to me. They's have just as much of their precious 2015 payroll flexibility as they have now, and they'd have a few more guys who'd actually be viable pieces in 2015.

Instead, they've locked down mediocrity for 2013 and 2014. Let's say Bogaerts et al. arrive in 2014 and start to hit their stride in 2015. At that point, what will be left from the tens of millions spent this offseason? Napoli's age 33 season and Victorino's age 34 season. What will they have got from it? Two years of contending for wildcards that about 7 other teams also contending for?

I want to sound too spoiled, contending for wildcards is certainly better than not contending for them, but I think a team with the sort of opportunity the Sox have had this offseason should be able to do better.
   117. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:43 PM (#4324881)
I don't think saddling yourself with Wells is worth Trumbo or Bourjos.

If all you get is a Bourjos, then the Angels would need to pay some of the freight for Wells. The point of the exercise was really to establish the principle that $ can be exchanged for youngish talent by dreaming up a few examples.
And why would the Angels be looking to trade away their fourth and fifth outfielders in the first place? They're trying to win now.

To free up payroll to buy something nice, such as another pitcher.
Everybody wants a pony, and I'm sure the Sox have been and are doing their best to get one, but it's hard to criticize them for not producing some magic when the trade market is fairly opaque to us as fans.

Well yeah, but I was asked to come up with examples of alternatives to the 3/13 plan the Sox have going. Most of these are things that other teams either did or were rumored to have talked about. If we're going to even bother to discuss offseason strategy, then this needs to be a part of it. If everything other than signing a free agent is a "pony", then I don't see the point of critiquing an offseason plan in the first place. Saying the market is opaque is somewhat true, but it also closes off any critique of the front office, and I don't think we need to go that far.
   118. Nasty Nate Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4324883)
Instead, they've locked down mediocrity for 2013 and 2014. Let's say Bogaerts et al. arrive in 2014 and start to hit their stride in 2015. At that point, what will be left from the tens of millions spent this offseason? Napoli's age 33 season and Victorino's age 34 season. What will they have got from it? Two years of contending for wildcards that about 7 other teams also contending for?


I have a more optimistic evaluation of this 3rd option (although not necessarily a great opinion of their execution of it). The FA acquisitions they got improve their chances in 2013 (i.e. NOT lock down mediocrity for it) and, so far, they have been deals that didn't require them to lose any draft picks or, more importantly, send any young talent back. I don't think this money would impede them from acquiring a big-contract guy in the near future. I think punting a season before it starts should only be a last resort.

Edit: I thinking signing Hamilton instead of Victorino would have perfectly fit with improving 2013 but really gunning for 2014 and 2015, even if it meant only one of Napoli or Dempster.
   119. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4324939)
So, speaking of "impact talent", apparently the Mets are looking to move RA Dickey today. You can dispute his impactitude, but he did just win the Cy Young Award. That's got to be a player worth discussing.

We'll see what sort of package he draws. I would at least consider offering a package headed by someone other than Bogaerts or Bradley. (So, Doubront, De La Rosa, or Barnes, basically.) And you could try to offer to eat salary - take Frank Francisco and then cut him, or help out with part of Santana's 2013 salary. I doubt a package of that sort would be enough. Dickey is a plausible All-Star talent trade option, so it seems worth considering what you'd pay to get him.

(I want to stop using "impact" as an adjective. It is silly. How about we say, "All-Star" instead? It has the benefit of actually meaning something.)
   120. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4324950)
(I want to stop using "impact" as an adjective. It is silly. How about we say, "All-Star" instead? It has the benefit of actually meaning something.)


Whatever. People are using it to mean elite, which everyone actually knows, snark aside. All Star, on the other hand, means closers from the Pirates and 83 year old Cal Ripken-types. But by all means, that's super important.
   121. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4324957)
Oh. That wasn't really meant to be snark at someone, but you did bring the term up, so it kind of ending up being snark at you. Not my intent, sorry.
   122. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2012 at 03:47 PM (#4324964)
Eh, thanks. I was probably being overly defensive. No worries.

To the actual topic of your post: I'm intrigued by Dickey, but while I'm one of those advocating for going after elite talent, I think Dickey would really double-down on this strange 3 year window they're building. I'm advocating potentially overpaying for Sanchez and Jackson because those guys are likely to still be good 4-5 years from now.
   123. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:20 PM (#4325002)
too late; no longer germane
   124. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4325024)
I don't think it was realistic to get back up to 92 wins in one season after the recent unpleasantness. I felt that a good offseason was one where the Sox find their way to about 85 wins, and have room to improve into the low 90s in 2014.


I don't really see what's supposed to happen in 2014 that cannot happen in 2013. The Contend* In 2014 plan seems like the Contend* In 2013 plan only worse since:

--It takes an extra year
--I don't see any major money coming off the books at the end of 2013
--There are many payers on the decline side of the aging curve, including Pedroia, Papi, Napoli, Victorino, Dempster, ... Despite a few young guys like Middlebrooks, they're going to have to add a few wins in 2014 just to keep pace with the 2013 roster
--They're going to have to re-sign or replace Ellsbury
--Their prospects are likely to be in the minors or in their rookie seasons, thus unlikely to be impact** players yet
--I don't see any extra special free agents in 2014 that are so much better than what has been available in 2013 (although that's subject to change)

*as in project to win in the low 90's
**I like it. Sometimes quirkiness and ambiguity are good
   125. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4325034)
I'm advocating potentially overpaying for Sanchez and Jackson because those guys are likely to still be good 4-5 years from now.
I think they are extremely unlikely to be good 4-5 years from now. They're pitchers, and not particularly great ones.

Sanchez has thrown 598 IP from 2010-2012 and put up 9 WAR. I did a little play-index search for pitchers between the ages of 26-30, who over the previous three seasons threw at least 500 IP and put up 7-11 WAR. I then looked for their numbers five years out. I did this for two cohorts, one from 2002-2004 (checking their 2009 numbers) and one from 2005-2007 (checking their 2012 numbers). These are the pitchers:

2002-2004: Livan Hernandez, Kip Wells, Matt Clement, Odalis Perez, Javier Vazquez, Jarrod Washburn, Rodrigo Lopez, Mark Redman, Freddy Garcia, Sidney Ponson

2005-2007: Dan Haren, Brad Penny, Chris Young, AJ Burnett, Barry Zito, Javier Vazquez, Joe Blanton

In year 5, these pitchers averaged 92 IP, 86 ERA+, 0.3 WAR. The only above average season was Javier Vazquez' Cy Young contending 2009, but more striking the only two seasons that could be considered good at all were Vazquez's 2009 and Burnett's 2012 (1.9 WAR, 106 ERA+ in 200 IP). The next best seasons were 60 good innings from a rehabbing Freddy Garcia in 2009 and 100 mediocre innings from a rehabbing Chris Young last year. Four pitchers (2009 Matt Clement, Odalis Perez, and Mark Redman, 2012 Javier Vazquez) were out of baseball entirely, and all of the rest were below replacement level.

You don't pay merely above average pitchers for their projection in year 5. Their projection in year 5 is to do nothing useful.
   126. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4325038)
I don't really see what's supposed to happen in 2014 that cannot happen in 2013. The Contend* In 2014 plan seems like the Contend* In 2013 plan only worse since:
It's better because you have two seasons to move. Improving from 69 wins to 92 would be a huge, huge thing. Rarely happens in baseball. I think expecting it wouldn't be prudent, and being annoyed that it didn't happen isn't that reasonable.

If you have two years, there are more players to come available on the free agent and trade markets, more time to evaluate your own players and figure out who to replace. It seems pretty uncomplicated to me that trying to improve the team by 20 wins over two seasons is easier than trying to improve the team by 20 wins over one season.
   127. Nasty Nate Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4325049)
I don't really see what's supposed to happen in 2014 that cannot happen in 2013. The Contend* In 2014 plan seems like the Contend* In 2013 plan only worse since:


I was going to dispute this but had trouble coming up with valid reasons - then I got depressed. I guess, grasping at straws, one could hope that Webster and De La Rosa, as well as Middlebrooks, could be much better in 2014 than 2013. But you are right, Bradley Bogaerts and Barnes are very unlikely to be in their MLB primes in 2014.
   128. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:52 PM (#4325052)
Rarely happens in baseball.

Teams rarely have the resources all at once that the Red Sox had all at once this offseason.
   129. Darren Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:52 PM (#4325053)
Enough of improving from 69 to 92 wins. The starting point should be 74, their pythag number. And I would also add that it's safe to assume, due to regression and the insanely high injury rate, the starting point should be more like 78-ish. Just look at SG's (rather conservative) projections. It adds Napoli (2-3 wins), Victorino (2-3 wins), and Gomes (1 win) and voila, 84 wins.
   130. Nasty Nate Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4325055)
It's better because you have two seasons to move....

If you have two years, there are more players to come available on the free agent and trade markets, more time to evaluate your own players and figure out who to replace.


But as he points out, you are fighting father time and the loss of Ellsbury more over 2 years than just one.
   131. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4325061)
It seems pretty uncomplicated to me that trying to improve the team by 20 wins over two seasons is easier than trying to improve the team by 20 wins over one season.

It seems the opposite to me. They're using essentially the same amount of $ in either case, and most of the players they're acquiring in 2013 -- along with many players already on the roster -- will depreciate in time. Plus it takes an extra season, which is an extra opportunity used.
   132. Darren Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4325064)
As much as father time hurts, he also helps the promising prospects and young players mature. Also, at the same time, everybody else's players are getting older too.

And with Ellsbury, who knows? Maybe by the end of 2013, we'll be glad he's gone. Or maybe he'll be the MVP and we'll be trying to sign him for 10/200. He's an enigma.
   133. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4325065)
If Ellsbury is good, you re-sign him. Bam, impact talent. If Ellsbury isn't good, you let him go and you have a clear opportunity for an upgrade.

There's also another $12M under the luxury tax that opens up due to the cap rising in 2014. A number of smaller contracts (Uehara, Saltalamacchia, Iglesias, Breslow) come off the board. They should be able to buy several wins just with money.

It does seem to me like the Sox need to be shooting more for 85-88 wins to get to 92 for next year. But I think they're pretty close.
   134. Nasty Nate Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4325069)
Enough of improving from 69 to 92 wins. The starting point should be 74, their pythag number. And I would also add that it's safe to assume, due to regression and the insanely high injury rate, the starting point should be more like 78-ish. Just look at SG's (rather conservative) projections. It adds Napoli (2-3 wins), Victorino (2-3 wins), and Gomes (1 win) and voila, 84 wins.


Thanks, I've been thinking the same thing but not sure how to say it coherently. Here's an example: The Reds improved their win total by 18 games from '11-'12. But they certainly didn't add 18 'wins' worth of players during the offseason. The significant adds were Latos, Marshall, Madson (zero innings) and Broxton at mid-season. Similar things could be said about the A's and the Orioles. When trying to improve, it doesn't make sense to evaluate your talent level by using your prior year's win total and then adding/subtracting based on additions and subtractions to your roster. Furthermore, you can't bemoan having a team that doesn't project to win 90 games given the false precision involved in team win projections. Every year, hardly any teams project to win 90+ games, and yet every year a bunch of teams with 90+ games.

Rarely happens in baseball.



Teams rarely have the resources all at once that the Red Sox had all at once this offseason.


Also, 69-win teams rarely have a base as good as Pedroia/Lester/Ortiz/Ellsbury/bullpen.... (I hope this is true at least.)
   135. Darren Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:06 PM (#4325073)
Is there even really a choice to be made between "improve in 2013" and "improve over 2013-2014"? I guess it would come into play in deciding to sign a 1-year deal, but otherwise pretty much anyone is going to try to make good deals right now, during the season, and after the season. If they can find a great SS for cheap now, I'm sure they'll do it. If they can't, they'll try later.
   136. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:08 PM (#4325078)
Is there even really a choice to be made between "improve in 2013" and "improve over 2013-2014"? I guess it would come into play in deciding to sign a 1-year deal, but otherwise pretty much anyone is going to try to make good deals right now, during the season, and after the season. If they can find a great SS for cheap now, I'm sure they'll do it. If they can't, they'll try later.
This is well put.

I have absolutely no objection to the Sox trying to build a 90-95 win club for 2013. I just don't think it's a realistic expectation. With more opportunities for good players and good trades to fall into their lap, I think the Sox have a better chance to hit their goal projection over two seasons than one.
   137. Darren Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4325087)
Ye of little faith, MC. The Sox just bumped themselves up to 86 wins with Dempster. Just add a 9-win SS and we're at 95 wins!
   138. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4325106)
If Ellsbury is good, you re-sign him. Bam, impact talent. If Ellsbury isn't good, you let him go and you have a clear opportunity for an upgrade.

If Ellsbury is good, he's got surplus value in 2013. Having to resign or replace him in 2014 is a net negative for the Contend in 2014 plan. The year spent evaluating him is a year that underutilizes a good Ellsbury year.

If Ellsbury is bad, that favors the Contend in 2014 plan relative to Contend in 2013, but it's bad news for both really.

There's also another $12M under the luxury tax that opens up due to the cap rising in 2014.

That buys about 2 wins, yes? In the meanwhile Pedroia, Papi, Napoli, Victorino, Dempster, et al have aged a year. Other free agents they sign this offseason (e.g. Drew, if he signs for two or more years) are likely to be on the decline side of the aging curve. I doubt 12M gets the 2014 roster to par with 2013. I could be persuaded otherwise, but I have a hard time seeing it right now.

A number of smaller contracts (Uehara, Saltalamacchia, Iglesias, Breslow) come off the board. They should be able to buy several wins just with money.

They also lose the services of Saltalamacchia (who I think is likely to be traded in 2013 and is not so relevant here) Uehara et al. I'm not sure any of them are particularly overpriced, so I really don't see any advantage for the Contend in 2014 plan here either.
   139. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4325114)
To be clear, I'm in favor of Contending in 2013. I just don't think it's a reasonable expectation for the front office.

If they fail to field a 90-plus win roster in 2014, I'll be critical of the club. That's my stance. It's not being opposed to building a winner this year, it's believing that a more reasonable expectation for this front office is to build a winner for 2014.

As I have said, I'm concerned that the moves the Sox have made leave them with less flexibility to improve for 2014 than I'd like. But while I'm concerned that things aren't moving for 2014 quite as I'd like, I think it's far too early to be more than concerned - to be angry or significantly disappointed.
   140. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4325133)
Is there even really a choice to be made between "improve in 2013" and "improve over 2013-2014"? I guess it would come into play in deciding to sign a 1-year deal, but otherwise pretty much anyone is going to try to make good deals right now, during the season, and after the season.


I'm trying to understand and evaluate the Sox strategy. "Improve" isn't a specific strategy, it's a given of any strategy for a team that sucked last year.

The Sox have not been out making F'n A trades. Good trades are good, but that's not what we have to evaluate.

Rather, the Sox have been signing guys like Napoli and Victorino. Those signings are, I think and hope, mild bargains. But they have a specific time span. I think it's reasonable to hope that Napoli and Victorino will be at least good in 2013, at least average in 2014, and at least passable in 2015. This has advantages and disadvantages beyond simply whether it's a net bargain or not.
   141. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 14, 2012 at 06:47 PM (#4325162)
They also lose the services of Saltalamacchia (who I think is likely to be traded in 2013 and is not so relevant here) Uehara et al. I'm not sure any of them are particularly overpriced, so I really don't see any advantage for the Contend in 2014 plan here either.


I don't think losing Saltalamacchia is something to be overly worried about. I think expecting 2014 Lavarnway to be able to contribute a similar amount as 2013 Saltalamacchia is a reasonable baseline. As for Uehara et al it's a bullpen and by its nature is going to be pretty random. I wouldn't be stunned that a Ranaudo-Wilson-Tazawa anchored bullpen would be as good or better than Uehara-Bard-Bailey (nor would I be stunned if it was much worse).
   142. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4325187)
I don't think losing Saltalamacchia is something to be overly worried about.

I'm not worried about losing him or Uehara or anyone else mentioned there. The point is that them coming off the books at the end of 2013 isn't much of a boon. They're worth a bit, they don't get paid much, it's probably about a wash. Certainly not a reason to think 2014 a more opportune time to compete than 2013.
   143. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 07:38 PM (#4325203)
But while I'm concerned that things aren't moving for 2014 quite as I'd like, I think it's far too early to be more than concerned - to be angry or significantly disappointed.

They've already committed a large portion of the payroll flexibility for 2013 and 2014. It's early to be disappointed, since I think of that as a results thing which requires actual games to be played. But it's not too early to try to interpret and evaluate their plan, since a large part of it is on the table now. As of now, I'm unimpressed with the plan.
   144. Cmax Sox the Box that Rocks? Posted: December 14, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4325206)
(Sorry guys first post, been lurking for some time and nowhere near as educated as the regulars).
I think, from a somewhat more casual sox fan, the problem with this current team is that we dumped Gonzalez to get rid of big contracts, and I liked Gonzalez. I also think that we've done absolutely nothing to bring someone like that back. If we simply still had players like Reddick, Lowrie? (possibly a horrid idea), and Gonzalez we could possibly be in a better position to "contend" this year.

I don't see how, with the team we have OR the prospects we potentially will have in the majors, we will be fielding a competitive team in what seems to be a somewhat combative AL East.

What I want to see is the team going after let's say.. Mark Trumbo, or (I have heard nothing from this, but I like it) Troy Tulowitzki? What about going after guys like this that could be potential "impact" players? We have the money to take on contracts, and we want some "ponies" on the team.

Feel free to ream into me about these suggestions, but again, as a more casual observer, I want to see them doing something like what the Rays did to acquire a potential star. Bring me more valuable, potential up-side, young talent. I know we need stop-gaps like Victorino, and I don't hate the Napoli signing (should we have just brought Youk back for a first baseman who can play defense?), but it seems like ALL we are doing is filling holes with old men.
   145. villageidiom Posted: December 14, 2012 at 08:34 PM (#4325227)
Welcome, Cmax.
I don't see how, with the team we have OR the prospects we potentially will have in the majors, we will be fielding a competitive team in what seems to be a somewhat combative AL East.

You talking 2013? Or beyond?

I'm looking at the additions the team has made this offseason as something similar to the additions in the 2002-03 offseason. Trade for Todd Walker. Sign Bill Mueller. Put in a waiver claim on Kevin Millar. Sign Jeremy Giambi. Grab some guy the Twins non-tendered. None of those, at the time, were what would have been considered "impact" players. But they were in total a significant value-add. Not only did Mueller hit better than expected, but he allowed them to trade Shea Hillenbrand for a starter/closer. Ortiz was ORTIZ. And they just barely missed the World Series.

Now, one could argue they started from a better position in 2002-03 than they have in 2012-13. The other team had Manny, and Pedro, and Varitek, and Nomar, and Damon, entering the offseason. They had 69 losses, not 69 wins. This is why it's reasonable to look at this offseason and not expect a complete turnaround. But in the sense that they are making incremental improvements at multiple positions, including some that create potential redundancy, it is very reminiscent of that offseason. And that offseason was, at the time and in retrospect, a team marching steadily in the right direction.
What I want to see is the team going after let's say.. Mark Trumbo, or (I have heard nothing from this, but I like it) Troy Tulowitzki? What about going after guys like this that could be potential "impact" players? We have the money to take on contracts, and we want some "ponies" on the team.
I think there's no objection to that, other than the one I keep raising: It's mid-December. The World Series ended a month and a half ago, and it's three and a half months until the start of the season. While with free agents they have to sign them while they're still on the market, trades lack the same degree of urgency.
   146. Cmax Sox the Box that Rocks? Posted: December 14, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4325231)
I think there's no objection to that, other than the one I keep raising: It's mid-December. The World Series ended a month and a half ago, and it's three and a half months until the start of the season. While with free agents they have to sign them while they're still on the market, trades lack the same degree of urgency.


This is what I'd most like to see happen. I am not unhappy with anything they've done this offseason other than Victorino as much as I am underwhelmed by it. I want more talented youth.

The most fun i've had in recent memory watching the sox is watching kids like Reddick, Pedroia, Lester, Bucholz, Ells, and further back Paps and Youk come up through our system and do exceedingly well. They were all underpaid, hungry and eager. Middlebrooks is the only player I see like that can turn into one of these.

I think of Iglesias as being an Omar Vizquel type.. if he can play that good of D and ever get on base.. so nothing TOO exciting.

I see JBJ as being.. what, a Chone Figgins in his semi-prime? A fast on base guy with some utility and good D, but otherwise not that exciting. Kalish could be an impact player in 2013 and beyond.. but who knows.

You talking 2013? Or beyond?

I am talking about beyond. While they surely will be adding more to their team in the next year, I still don't see how this team is going to be competitive in the next 2-3 years without some significant, impact, younger players (maybe not a Justin Upton.. he seems almost too Carl Crawford to me?) but maybe a Mark Trumbo, a good young starting pitcher, etc.

What I really want is for them to just finally sign Buster Posey, Felix Hernandez and oh I dunno, Mike Trout? How hard is that? really? (okay sorry for that one)
   147. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4325235)
I see JBJ as being.. what, a Chone Figgins in his semi-prime? A fast on base guy with some utility and good D, but otherwise not that exciting.
Bradley has more power already than Figgins ever showed. Bradley is a medium-power CF with an advanced approach at the plate - a more realistic comparison might be Johnny Damon.

Omar Vizquel is a deserving member of the Hall of Very Good. If Iglesias has half of Vizquel's career, I'll be extremely happy about him.

EDIT: And welcome. I like to welcome people by disagreeing with stuff.
   148. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 14, 2012 at 09:45 PM (#4325247)
Welcome cmax!

The thing about Bradley that you're leaving out is that he projects as a Gold Glove centerfielder. The reports on him are outstanding and while I've only seen him once in person you don't need to see him much to really be impressed with his ability to get a jump out there. He's not going to have to hit a lot to be a good major leaguer and if he does hit then...well I love the kid.

I'm glad you brought up Tulo. Maybe the Rox don't want to move him but if I'm the Sox I'm asking about him. VI raises the valid point about the off-season being young yet but just based on rumor mill stuff they don't see as active as I would have expected/liked on big name guys.

(should we have just brought Youk back for a first baseman who can play defense?


I love Youk but I'm glad we didn't pursue him. I think Kevin Youkils as a player fits nicely but if he comes back I think you have a potential soap opera on your hands. Either he doesn't play well and you've got to bench/release an incredibly popular guy or he does play well and by June all the talk is about him getting re-signed. I think the clean break is the way to go.
   149. Mattbert Posted: December 14, 2012 at 09:57 PM (#4325251)
Is there even really a choice to be made between "improve in 2013" and "improve over 2013-2014"?

Exactly. Improving in 2013 is, kinda by definition, the first step in the "improve over 2013-2014" or "contend in 2014" or whatever you want to call it plan.
   150. villageidiom Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM (#4325282)
So am I correct that much of the meh-to-negative reaction to date has been generated by the following sequence of events?
News: "The Boston Red Sox..."
Therapudlian: (looks up) "What?"
News: "...today acquired..."
Therapudlian: "WHO? KING FELIX? BRYCE HARPER? PEAK WILLIE MAYS?"
News: "...Shane Victorino."
Therapudlian: "uuuuugggggghhhh" (hangs head)

I get it. We've pretty much had bad news about this team for 14 straight months, then for the last month and a half we've had stuff like that. It's frustrating to be down a large hole, hoping someone is lowering down a ladder, only to find it's just a couple of short sticks and some twine. We're still waiting for the long poles to lash them to, so we can make a ladder and get the hell out.

We'll get out. I think 2012 was necessary if only to get Larry Lucchino to shut up and let Ben Cherington get back to what made this ownership group successful. And what started them down the path of on-field success 10 years ago were a lot of moves like this. Back then we took these as signs that they knew what they were doing, and periods of non-moves as signs of patience that would ultimately be rewarded. It's not a bad philosophy to have, especially if 2013 playoffs are unrealistic.
   151. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:12 PM (#4325287)
Exactly. Improving in 2013 is, kinda by definition, the first step in the "improve over 2013-2014" or "contend in 2014" or whatever you want to call it plan.

I think that just muddies the language.

MCoA thinks it's reasonable for the Sox to aim for 85-88 wins in 2013 and then improve 90+ in 2014. 2-year incremental accumulation of improvement. The Sox current moves are compatible with this. I called this Contend in 2014 for short.

I think that if the Sox are going to make a run at this in the short term, it might as well all be done in 2013. I think this because there's no significant $ coming off the books after 2013, nor any special free agents to acquire in 2014 vs. 2013, and for all the other reasons in prior posts. The Sox current moves are not as compatible with this; I was advocating a Hamilton, Greinke, Upton, Marlins dump sort of approach. I was calling it Contend in 2013 for short. It's a completely different strategy.

Besides which, improvement in one year is not improvement in subsequent years -- the Sox have made themselves better for 2013, but have only added age 33 Napoli and age 34 Victorino to their 2015+ team. They've opted to use their resources to improve in the short term *in lieu of* improving the longer term.
   152. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:47 PM (#4325306)
let Ben Cherington get back to what made this ownership group successful. And what started them down the path of on-field success 10 years ago were a lot of moves like this


I have to disagree with this on a couple of levels. First, I don't think Cherington has shown that he's capable of being the guy to lead us out of this mess. I think it's fair to say that 2011-2012 was not an impressive bit of GMing by Cherington and while I'm more than willing to give him time I'm certainly not prepared to say "if Ben makes a move it must be a good one."

Second, the moves 10 years ago weren't Victorino, Napoli and Dempster. Maybe the talent was similar (Mueller, Millar, Walker) but all were relatively bargain players. Additionally the roster those players were being inserted into already had the superstars (Nomar, Manny, Pedro). The 2003 Red Sox didn't need Josh Hamilton. Now maybe the 2013 Red Sox don't either but that assumes Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia are your stars.

And as I type this out I find myself reversing my thought a bit. Maybe that's what a lot of us are missing. Maybe the issue here is simply that the Sox are evaluating the players they have with a level of confidence that the rest of us don't share. Maybe Ben Cherington is thinking to himself "these idiots want me to sign Josh Hamilton? I've got Jacoby Ellsbury, I don't need Hamilton! I just need to tweak, not rebuild." I can see that logic even though I'm not confident in it.

I don't know, I think I need to go to bed.
   153. Darren Posted: December 15, 2012 at 12:01 AM (#4325310)

Besides which, improvement in one year is not improvement in subsequent years -- the Sox have made themselves better for 2013, but have only added age 33 Napoli and age 34 Victorino to their 2015+ team. They've opted to use their resources to improve in the short term *in lieu of* improving the longer term.


I don't think you can say that until they actually deal away some prospects for proven players. They appear to have shied away from multiple situations where they could do just that.

Now you could argue that they need to acquire younger players to compete long-term but I don't think you've demonstrated convincingly how they could have done this. (I do realize that that is a hard thing to demonstrate, of course.)
   154. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 15, 2012 at 12:20 AM (#4325317)
I don't think you can say that until they actually deal away some prospects for proven players. They appear to have shied away from multiple situations where they could do just that.

I take your point, but not hindering the future isn't the same as helping it. I think they either should have decided that Bogaerts et al were key part of the next good team, in which case add some pieces who will be positively useful in 2015+, or decide they're not, in which case go for it in 2013 without worrying about protecting the 2015+ prospects or budget.

Now you could argue that they need to acquire younger players to compete long-term but I don't think you've demonstrated convincingly how they could have done this. (I do realize that that is a hard thing to demonstrate, of course.)

I took a stab at it in post #87. That's about all I've got.

Well, apart from the general feeling that there sufficiently many overpriced contracts in MLB, and sufficiently many reasons for teams to ditch them, that there should be ways to trade 2013 $'s for players who will still be good in 2015. A decent GM ought to be able to do that, if that's the strategy.
   155. Dale Sams Posted: December 15, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4325321)
Are the Red Sox better now then in 2012?

Well, I sure don't see how they could be worse, but a large part of my pessimistic projection for 2012 was based on the Sox overachieving against good teams in 2011, and a lot of teams getting better while the Sox stood still.

...and a lot of talent got added to a team the Sox play...#### I dont know with the new schedules....15 times?
   156. Mattbert Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:03 AM (#4325335)
I share a lot of the thoughts vi expressed in #150.

I look at the offseason thusfar principally as Cherington buying the team some time. Time to figure out if the existing core is going to rebound or not. Time to see if the younger guys like Middlebrooks, Doubront, and possibly Lavarnway and Kalish take a step forward. Time to see if the minor league talent is going to be ready to contribute in 2015 or possibly earlier.

I approve of this plan because I think a full teardown and rebuild for 2015 isn't what a big-market team should be doing and would mean selling low on the existing core. I approve of this plan because I think going for it in 2013 would have had a distressingly high chance of putting the club right back in the position it just bent over backwards to get itself out of.

It's not that I can't see the rationale for going after Hamilton and Greinke. I think signing either of them to anything like the deals they got would have been a bad gamble though, as both guys strike me as candidates to have a toxic reaction to the trappings of playing baseball in Boston - especially at this particular time. I don't often go in for the intangibles stuff, but those two seem like cases where such things should have been a significant consideration.

Legitimately "going for it" in 2013 would have meant shelling out another quarter billion dollars in long-term salary commitments to two players around age 30. If they work out as well as the last ones did, you're in a real bind again until 2017. And there may not be another newly minted club like the Dodgers willing to absorb a bunch of money waiting around in 2014 so the Sox can hit the reset button again.

For the price of Hamilton's contract alone, we've added SIX pretty solid contributors in Napoli, Victorino, Dempster, Ross, Gomes, and Uehara. Some of those additions have more upside than others, but on the whole it's a very decent group. Not to go all Gammons here, but if the existing core plays like we know they're capable of playing instead of playing like the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked, and if a few of the younger guys take a step forward, and if the supplemental pieces acquired this winter produce as expected, then the Red Sox have as good a chance as anyone in the AL East of not only making the playoffs but winning the division.

I also note that, to the extent that this stuff matters to us, all six additions to the team have been significant contributors for a team that made the playoffs last year, the year before, or both. Insofar as the Red Sox clubhouse culture has been conspicuously appalling of late, maybe that stuff counts for something.
   157. Mattbert Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:10 AM (#4325337)
I also also note that the v2003 of myself would absolutely rip into the v2012 of myself for the appeals to intangibles and such in #156. I must be getting soft in my old age.
   158. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:38 AM (#4325354)
I look at the offseason thusfar principally as Cherington buying the team some time.

Napoli+Victorino+Dempster+Ross+Gomes+Uehara will cost more than 50 million $'s in 2013. That's some very expensive time they're buying.
   159. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:38 AM (#4325355)
I also also note that the v2003 of myself would absolutely rip into the v2012 of myself for the appeals to intangibles and such in #156. I must be getting soft in my old age.


Intangibles are the new market inefficiency. It all comes full circle.
   160. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 15, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4325403)
I take your point, but not hindering the future isn't the same as helping it. I think they either should have decided that Bogaerts et al were key part of the next good team, in which case add some pieces who will be positively useful in 2015+, or decide they're not, in which case go for it in 2013 without worrying about protecting the 2015+ prospects or budget.
I think that if Ben Cherington were here, he'd argue that's a false choice. The Red Sox offseason has been structured to walk the line between building up to win now and breaking it down to win later. They don't want to give up significant present talent in a rebuild because they think they can compete next year, but they don't want to risk taking on significant contracts that project to be poor value for 2015-> either. They're hedging their bet on the farm system by building an 85ish win club for now, and they're hedging their bet on the current roster by carefully protecting future talent and future payroll.

In both cases, though, they're laying a relatively significant bet on the talent already in the organization. The core of the 2013-2014 roster is going to be mostly the remaining 2012 core, and the core of the future (the younger guys now plus the Rubby and the Bs) is also coming from inside the organization. There's room in 2013-2014 for one imported core / impact / All-Star - and I fully expect them to get one at least by 2014 - but for the most part it's about curating and protecting the players we've got.
   161. Belfry Bob Posted: December 15, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4325409)
I do expect a regression from the Orioles, but more in tune with around .500, as there should be improvement from their first half 2012 pitching and hopefully better offensive numbers from Davis, Jones, Weiters, Hardy, and left field (or even 3 of those 5), maybe from Manny (more likely a regression of some sort there.)

I don't know that the Sox emerge from last year's wreckage as spectacularly as projected; Though Ferrell isn't anything special, he's not Valentine, so that counts for something - but I think their signings are meh, and show a team who has 'lost their way', as Brian Kenny said last week.

It's looking like a really nasty division, especially if those current Jay/Dickey rumors turn to fruition.

If I had to pick an order of finish today based on current rosters, I'd go:

Rays
Yankees
Jays
Orioles
Red Sox
   162. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 15, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4325410)
It's not that I can't see the rationale for going after Hamilton and Greinke. I think signing either of them to anything like the deals they got would have been a bad gamble though, as both guys strike me as candidates to have a toxic reaction to the trappings of playing baseball in Boston - especially at this particular time. I don't often go in for the intangibles stuff, but those two seem like cases where such things should have been a significant consideration.
It is worth noting that we've had serious clubhouse problems for two years running, and last year's was pretty much unlivable. Making moves with a goal to building a better clubhouse does make some sense.

The problem with intangibles is that if projecting individual talent is hard, projecting the interaction of humans is a thousand times harder. The Sox thought adding Crawford and Gonzalez to the 2010 club would guarantee a harmonious, hard-working clubhouse for the foreseeable future. So it's hard for me to justify moves based on "chemistry" concerns, because unlike with the chemistry of molecules, no one actually has any good way of predicting what happens when you add one player to the collective. (Maybe it's more like protein folding? Am I right in remembering that we still have trouble modeling protein folding?)

With Greinke in particular, I don't think you need to appeal to intangibles. He's just not been very good at preventing runs. I would not bet $150M on a pitcher if it meant I also had to bet on FIP against ERA over a pretty large sample. With Hamilton, I feel like the determinative questions are physical and mental health, and I'm not really in a position to judge. I don't trust the Sox to judge either, but that doesn't mean I can be particularly confident they were right or wrong.
   163. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 15, 2012 at 09:53 AM (#4325412)
It's looking like a really nasty division, especially if those current Jay/Dickey rumors turn to fruition.
I'd say it looks "nasty" both in the sense that it's tightly matched and in the sense that no one is going to be particularly fun to watch. I could easily see all five teams ending up within 10 games of each other. The closest the AL East has been in the Wild Card era is 18 games (2000), and the closest 5-team division was the 2006 NL West (12 games). I could see something like that happening again pretty easily.
I don't know that the Sox emerge from last year's wreckage as spectacularly as projected;
Who's projecting "spectacular"? It seems like the debate here is between people who think they'll emerge passably, and people who think they'll struggle to win 82. (Or it's between people who are disappointed they'll emerge only passably, and people who think "passable" is a fair outcome to the offseason.)
   164. Belfry Bob Posted: December 15, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4325428)
Matt, IMO a 7 game pickup from last season' Pythag based on the current signings would be pretty spectacular to me. I guess I was surprised to see a projection of the Sox at .500'ish, since the only signing I like so far is Dempster.

And yes, by 'nasty' I mean competitive top to bottom. Someone, or even two, of these clubs I expect to break out a bit and win 92-94 games, most likely from the Rays-Yankees-Jays group.

To me, that makes everyone 'fun to watch'.

   165. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 15, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4325434)
Matt, IMO a 7 game pickup from last season' Pythag based on the current signings would be pretty spectacular to me.
Well, it's not just based on current signings. Pedroia, Ellsbury, Ortiz, Lester, and Buchholz combined for 9-11 WAR last year, and CAIRO projects them to 13-14 WAR next year. The Sox had some significant injury and star underperformance issues last year, and part of the projection is that the club should probably see a bit better fortune next season.
   166. Belfry Bob Posted: December 15, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4325453)
Well, it's not just based on current signings. Pedroia, Ellsbury, Ortiz, Lester, and Buchholz combined for 9-11 WAR last year, and CAIRO projects them to 13-14 WAR next year. The Sox had some significant injury and star underperformance issues last year, and part of the projection is that the club should probably see a bit better fortune next season.

I'll go along with that. By the same token, the O's were without their starting left fielder the entire year, their right fielder for half the year, their second baseman (though at this point no one's expecting his return), their best starter for half the season, and a sub-par year from their shortstop. I'm not sure how that, along with the natural regression of an otherwise lucky season, results in a projected 20 game drop.
   167. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 15, 2012 at 11:44 AM (#4325460)
I didn't cherry-pick Red Sox who were poor in 2012. I chose the five best players on the club, one who had a notably better season that he projects for next year, one who had a basically on-par season.

EDIT: Take five core Baltimore players - include Hardy and Markakis and Hammel from your underperforming file, add Jones and Wieters. These guys combined for 14-15 WAR last year, and CAIRO projects them to 13-14 WAR next year. I'm not saying I think Baltimore are a 74-win club, but I don't think they had comparable star injury/underperformance problems to the Red Sox.
   168. Mattbert Posted: December 15, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4325462)
The problem with intangibles is that if projecting individual talent is hard, projecting the interaction of humans is a thousand times harder. The Sox thought adding Crawford and Gonzalez to the 2010 club would guarantee a harmonious, hard-working clubhouse for the foreseeable future.

To clarify, I don't think Hamilton and Greinke were risks because they are clubhouse jerks or anything. Whatever their other issues, they both come off as perfectly nice guys. My worry was that both of them have a history of off-field stuff that might react poorly to being exposed to the unrelenting scrutiny and, occasionally, the outright meanness of the Boston baseball-industrial complex. Particularly when bringing the two of them in for huge money after what happened the last two years would, fairly or not, inevitably focus the spotlight on them as the saviors of the franchise.

I tend to avoid the armchair psychology stuff, but I don't know how one looks at Hamilton's substance abuse issues and Greinke's (past?) social anxiety issues and concludes there'd be nothing to worry about. This can be a pretty unforgiving place to play at times. Matt Clement got smoked in the head with a batted ball, and the press basically called him a giant p*ssy and accused him of milking a different phantom injury (that turned out to be real) when he pitched poorly afterwards. There's no shortage of other examples to cite, but that's a recent one that stands out.

Part of the Red Sox experience is being able to deal with vicious a**holes, and Hamilton and Greinke don't strike me as being particular adept at dealing with vicious a**holes. (Best of luck to Zack if he lets Simers get within earshot, by the way.) Given that both guys have baggage of one kind or another, I would be very nervous that they'd get personally pilloried if they didn't play like franchise saviors straight out of the gate. And that would be the beginning of the end.
   169. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4325668)
I think that if Ben Cherington were here, he'd argue that's a false choice.

If so, he'd be incorrect. Teams like the Rays and Indians added significant prospects who will be in their primes in 2015+ (at the expense of some near-term pieces). The Red Sox did not. No amount of semantic cleverness can get around the fact that these are two different choices.
   170. Cmax Sox the Box that Rocks? Posted: December 17, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4327288)
If so, he'd be incorrect. Teams like the Rays and Indians added significant prospects who will be in their primes in 2015+ (at the expense of some near-term pieces). The Red Sox did not. No amount of semantic cleverness can get around the fact that these are two different choices.


This is how I feel. All we've done is fill holes with old, short term players.

Where is this 2014 and beyond high upside young talent that we should be looking for if the goal is to "rebuild"?
   171. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 17, 2012 at 10:14 PM (#4327326)
Where is this 2014 and beyond high upside young talent that we should be looking for if the goal is to "rebuild"?


Portland and Pawtucket. The Sox have two very highly regarded positional prospects in Bradley and Bogaerts and Barnes, Webster and De La Rosa (the last is not technically a "prospect") on the mound. While everyone won't pan out just the sheer numbers should keep Sox fans feeling hopeful.
   172. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: December 18, 2012 at 12:21 AM (#4327406)
Portland and Pawtucket. The Sox have two very highly regarded positional prospects in Bradley and Bogaerts and Barnes, Webster and De La Rosa (the last is not technically a "prospect") on the mound. While everyone won't pan out just the sheer numbers should keep Sox fans feeling hopeful.


And presumably Will Middlebrooks, Felix Doubront, possibly Lavarnway, Bard (assuming he's not permanently broken), Tazawa (whose 2012 doesn't seem to get much respect), etc also count. Trades can also occur. I think the Red Sox are in ok shape. Let's take it one step at a time here.
   173. dave h Posted: December 18, 2012 at 01:37 AM (#4327441)
I agree with the sentiment that the Sox fortunes in the next few years rely on the performance of players already in their system. MLB is flush with money, and there's basically a de facto cap in place - this means that it's much more difficult to get a Manny via FA or a pre-arb Pedro via trade. I think there's still room to find the Muellers of the world, but probably not the Ortizes - the Sox aren't light-years ahead of everyone on Major League talent evaluation. That means they can get the complementary players for reasonable prices, but the stars are mostly going to have to come from within. If those stars are Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester, and Buccholz, then the Sox can win now. If they're a subset of Bradley, Bogaerts, Barnes, and company then they can win in a couple years.
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