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   1. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: August 12, 2012 at 08:03 PM (#4206955)
As Andrew Bailey preps for a return the Sox’ 2013 bullpen will take shape. Add in Aceves, Melancon and lefty-humiliating Andrew Miller and the Sox have the makings of a nice bullpen.


Huh? I agree with the rest of what was said, but this struck me as odd. An Aceves/Bailey/Melancon/Miller core has the makings of a bad bullpen. Bailey is still a giant injury risk, Miller has all of 30 innings that make him look good, Aceves is a 4.00 ERA pitcher, and Melancon stinks. Assuming they bring back Breslow and throw Bard back to the pen will help, but if that's the six they go with we once again have a high variance bullpen with an extremely low floor and only a moderate ceiling.

Additionally, I'd like to add that I'll be looking for signs that Cherington is on the hot seat. As much as I think that's the best move, it's an unlikely path.

Do back-to-back disappointing seasons and 2007 long in the rearview mean there's any chance Lucchino moves on, be it as his own or Henry's discretion?
   2. OCD SS Posted: August 12, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4206961)
I put it in the trade thread (before I saw this one), but the real issue is who's making those decisions. Lucchino was the one who talked very openly about ownership having a spot at the baseball ops table, and I think it's hard to look at what Ben has done and lay the blame at his feet, when you can't tell who was responsible for the decisions. One thing is for sure though, Ben looked ready to hire Sveum to manage, and I don't see how things progressed to hiring Valentine can be interpreted any other way than ownership making their own choice.

I think the new CBA really caught H/W/L and the FO off guard. Before they could be pretty laissez-faire about worrying about the CBT payment since it made more sense to spend that money than place any limits on competitiveness. But with the introduction of the new CBA and its absolutely draconian penalties, the Sox went from thinking it would really nice to get under to really having to get under. And that lead to an absolute order that the Sox cannot add longterm payroll in 2012. Given those restrictions I have a hard time putting Ben on the hot seat.

As nice as it would be to blame Lucky, even if this whole mess is his fault there's no way he's going anywhere.
   3. Dan Posted: August 12, 2012 at 09:07 PM (#4206973)
Even if Lucchino is overly meddlesome, a good GM can work within those constraints and get control where he needs it. Look at the job that DiPoto has done with the Angels: the guy replaced a GM who was widely viewed as unable to operate independently from the manager Scioscia and the owner Moreno. Yet DiPoto has managed to grasp the reigns and take control of that organization in the way that a GM needs to. If Cherington isn't a forceful enough personality to overrule Lucchino and/or Valentine when he needs to, that is an issue and a reason that he should not be GM of this team, it is not an excuse or a reason to say that we can't blame him for the negative moves that this organization has made since he has been titularly in command of baseball operations for the Red Sox.
   4. Dan Posted: August 12, 2012 at 09:30 PM (#4206979)
Now obviously Valentine isn't an institution here like Scioscia is with the Angels, but Lucchino isn't going anywhere any time soon. If Cherington lacks the ability to get things done independently or convince Lucchino to make good decisions then he's not capable of doing a good job as GM of the Red Sox.
   5. Dale Sams Posted: August 12, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4206980)
Management has done nothing to earn my faith. I can't count on them to not deal Ellsbury for two years of Elvis Andrus* (I know some people are so desperate to get SOMETHING for Ells, that they consider that a fantastic move. I have no desire to trade a guy that hit 32 home runs last year for yes, one of the best SS's in a depressed SS enviroment...

but you don't trade a Ferrari for the third best Honda in the world. Even if you think the Ferrari may be gone. You keep it and hope maybe something can be worked out and maybe that Ferrari will take you to the WS.....and who knows, maybe that Ferrari will break down and you can have it repaired for a reasonable pri...OK IM DONE WITH THIS DUMB ANALOGY!!!

*Though they'd probably turn around and trade him for Olt or a reliever.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: August 12, 2012 at 11:34 PM (#4207026)
Assuming they bring back Breslow and throw Bard back to the pen will help, but if that's the six they go with we once again have a high variance bullpen with an extremely low floor and only a moderate ceiling.


What? All bullpens are high variance. And with that group of guys the ceiling is as high as the floor is low. The ceiling would be Bard and Bailey with sub-2.00 ERA's, Aceves giving 100 good innings, supplemented with 2 effective lefties and Junichi. The floor is Bailey being hurt, Bard throwing wild pitches in Rhode Island, Aceves losing 7+ games again and the rest of the guys sucking.
   7. RobertMachemer Posted: August 13, 2012 at 06:10 AM (#4207067)
Management has done nothing to earn my faith. I can't count on them to not deal Ellsbury for two years of Elvis Andrus* (I know some people are so desperate to get SOMETHING for Ells, that they consider that a fantastic move. I have no desire to trade a guy that hit 32 home runs last year for yes, one of the best SS's in a depressed SS enviroment...

but you don't trade a Ferrari for the third best Honda in the world. Even if you think the Ferrari may be gone. You keep it and hope maybe something can be worked out and maybe that Ferrari will take you to the WS.....and who knows, maybe that Ferrari will break down and you can have it repaired for a reasonable pri...OK IM DONE WITH THIS DUMB ANALOGY!!!

*Though they'd probably turn around and trade him for Olt or a reliever.


How good a fielder is Elvis Andrus? This is the first I've heard of such a suggestion, but, yeah, I'd definitely consider trading Ellsbury for Andrus, assuming Andrus is a good fielder. (He'd have to be at least comfortably above-average as a fielder, though).

In five seasons in the majors, Ellsbury has had 3 full seasons, 2 injury-plagued ones. Assuming we don't count his 33-game fluke run in 2007, he's had ONE season with an OPS+ over 100, which happened to be in his age-27 season. (Do I have this right:) he has given every indication that he is going to test free agency one year from now (i.e.,, there's no reason to think that the Red Sox will keep him after next year). He's already 28.

Andrus is 23. He plays a more important defensive position. He has shown steady improvement as a hitter and has an OPS+ above 100 right now (something which it took Ellsbury until age 27 to accomplish). He makes a couple million dollars less than Ellsbury. He draws walks. He steals bases (though not as well as Ellsbury has). The Red Sox have lots of credible outfielders and zero credible shortstops (once Ciriaco turns back into a pumpkin).

The third-best shortstop in the league (if that's what Andrus is) is likely worth just as much (roughly speaking) as the third-best outfielder.

Now if Ellsbury bounces back, of course, he's worth quite a bit more. But will he?
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 13, 2012 at 07:42 AM (#4207079)
I think the new CBA really caught H/W/L and the FO off guard. Before they could be pretty laissez-faire about worrying about the CBT payment since it made more sense to spend that money than place any limits on competitiveness. But with the introduction of the new CBA and its absolutely draconian penalties, the Sox went from thinking it would really nice to get under to really having to get under.
The penalties are increased, but it's not clear to me it's a radical change for anyone but the Yankees. The increase in the rate on the luxury tax only makes a significant difference for teams way over the tax rate (the Yankees). The Red Sox are currently project to pay about $3M in luxury tax. if they had to pay at 50%, that's $5M, and if they had to pay at 16%, that's $1.5M. The rate change isn't draconian for the Sox.

Now, there's a weird revenue sharing thing. Clubs in the top 15 markets aren't eligible to receive redistributive revenue-sharing payouts, and the money they would have received is returned to the high-revenue clubs. But clubs over the luxury tax will be ineligible for these refunds. I don't know how much money that is, but we'll learn next year just how valuable the revenue-sharing refunds will be, based on whether the Sox get themselves under the cap or not.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 13, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4207110)
I think the other thing to watch is Lavarnway and Saltalamacchia. How does Lavarnway look offensively and defensively? Will the Sox keep both as catchers? How often will they let Lavarnway catch over Salty or Shoppach? Next year is a major decision point on Lavarnway, and how the club's two young catchers play down the stretch may be determinative for that decision.
   10. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 13, 2012 at 09:31 AM (#4207111)
I put it in the trade thread (before I saw this one), but the real issue is who's making those decisions. Lucchino was the one who talked very openly about ownership having a spot at the baseball ops table, and I think it's hard to look at what Ben has done and lay the blame at his feet, when you can't tell who was responsible for the decisions.
The really bad moves are the ones with the bullpen, rotation, and prospects. Bard to the rotation leads to Reddick for Bailey and Lowrie for Melancon, plus it leads to Dan Bard scuffling in Pawtucket all summer. I see little reason to blame Larry Lucchino for those moves - even if you contort yourself to blame Lucky for the Youkilis trade, there's little reason to think the rest of it wasn't a baseball ops construction.

The other issue for me is that Lucchino and Henry have always had a say in baseball decisions. Epstein carved out greater authority for himself apres gorilla, but he couldn't unilaterally make signings and trades. I think the loss of Epstein was like cutting one of the legs off a stool, and instead of replacing it with a third leg, the other legs tried to get a little longer by stealing pieces of the leg that fell off, and then they killed this metaphor in a pond next to Dale's Ferrari.
   11. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: August 13, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4207164)
Management has done nothing to earn my faith.


Nothing?
It ain't the most recent thing, but still.

They're not perfect, but I would expect that two championships in the last decade should earn them a bit of benefit of the doubt.
   12. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 13, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4207192)
Different management.
   13. OCD SS Posted: August 13, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4207198)
The really bad moves are the ones with the bullpen, rotation, and prospects. Bard to the rotation leads to Reddick for Bailey and Lowrie for Melancon, plus it leads to Dan Bard scuffling in Pawtucket all summer. I see little reason to blame Larry Lucchino for those moves - even if you contort yourself to blame Lucky for the Youkilis trade, there's little reason to think the rest of it wasn't a baseball ops construction.


I think Youks was a clubhouse/ Valentine thing, so let's set that aside. As I see it the FO had a directive to maintain their competitive chances, which meant adding a starter, overhauling the 'pen, and building in depth across the roster without significantly increasing payroll. Based on what I remember of the FA market, the only way to do that was in trade. If they weren't going to spend the money on Wilson or Darvish, that put them chasing after Gio Gonzalez (who was always going to cost the Bailey package and then some, probably Middlebrooks). I'll concede that if you want to pin Ben for what appears to be a systemic failure of talent evaluation you can go down that road, but I think enough of these moves looked defensible based on the limits the FO appears to have put in place and generally accepted talent evaluations of these players.

The cost for going over the CBT threshold lies in that revenue sharing money. IIRC it is a substantial amount of money in excess of many times what they otherwise pay as a tax.
   14. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 13, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4207216)
I'll concede that if you want to pin Ben for what appears to be a systemic failure of talent evaluation you can go down that road, but I think enough of these moves looked defensible based on the limits the FO appears to have put in place and generally accepted talent evaluations of these players.
If your argument is that there should be little weight placed on after-the-fact evaluations of roster moves, then what do you blame the owners for? Their plan was executed! "Based on generally accepted talent evaluations" the Red Sox did "maintain their competitive chances" by "adding a starter, overhauling the 'pen, and building in depth across the roster without significantly increasing payroll." Ownership set a reasonable goal, baseball ops hit that goal. What is there to complain about, based on generally accepted talent evaluations at the time?

The Red Sox from 2010 to 2012, based on the generally accepted evaluations of the club before the fact, have projected as a playoff favorite, the best team in baseball, and a solid playoff contender. They have missed the playoffs three years in a row. Your method holds that the Red Sox haven't actually done anything wrong. I reject the method.
   15. JJ1986 Posted: August 13, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4207218)
If Lucchino is actually making moves that hurt the team, wouldn't hiring Valentine be the one to focus on? Ownership appeared to go over the head of the GM to pick a manager. This makes it look like the manager doesn't have the support of the front office, the front office doesn't have the support of ownership and the players, not having one singular chain of authority to respect, don't have to listen to Valentine.
   16. Dale Sams Posted: August 13, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4207221)
You know everyone talks like Ellsbury is lose-lose for the Sox.

I don't get it. I see it as win-win.

If Ellsbury has another HOF season in 2013...well those don't come out of the woodwork. You take it and love it, and see it as a sign that maybe he would be worth 20 mill a season (#### the budget, make it work). And if you don't, well, you got an 8 WAR season, bye Ellsbury.

If Ells has a mediocre-poor season in 2013, then you sign him to a reasonable long-term contract and savor whatever defense/base-running he's giving you, and hope he can repeat 2011 some day. The only way I see it being a losing proposition is if you panic and trade him.

We arn't the frigging Rays fercrissake.
   17. RobertMachemer Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4207234)
What's a reasonable long-term contract for a 30 year old center fielder who has typically hit for a sub-100 OPS+ and who has missed 40% of his games due to injuries? What makes you think Ellsbury will sign for that rather than whatever the Angels (to pick a team who has traditionally loved speedy center fielders) will throw at him?

I've got no problem waiting to see what will happen with Ellsbury. I'm not in a hurry to trade him (especially coming off this season). But Ellsbury is EXACTLY the sort of player that I can see a team overpaying, and I'd rather the Sox get something for him than sign him to the contract I think he'll get in free agency. He's Darren Erstad, but without the health or as many 100 OPS+ seasons through age 28.
   18. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4207235)
What's a reasonable long-term contract for a 30 year old center fielder who has typically hit for a sub-100 OPS+ and who has missed 40% of his games due to injuries?
I don't know, but that sure sounds bad!

In contrast, what's a reasonable long-term contract for Jacoby Ellsbury, and why should the question instead be phrased to emphasize all of Ellsbury's negative qualities and none of his positives?
   19. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4207239)
Ellsbury's only had two significant injuries in his playing career. The ribs and the shoulder. Those could be harbingers of awfulness, but the shoulder separation looked like all kinds of bad luck. So that leaves the ribs. If Ellsbury stays healthy through the remainder of the season and 2013, I'll be reasonably confident in his health going forward.

OPS+ is obviously a terrible metric to use to gauge the value of an excellent baserunner. Fangraphs and Baseball-reference credit Ellsbury with about 6 WAR for 2009-2010 combined. That's a player worth a lot of money regardless of OPS+.

If Ellsbury has another big season in 2013, would you pay him 5/100 or 6/120? That doesn't seem unreasonable for a guy capable of 7-8 WAR, who should be a solid 2-3 WAR in a down year. If you think his injury problems will repeat, then you wouldn't offer that. So it's a tough choice.
   20. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4207249)
If Ells has a mediocre-poor season in 2013, then you sign him to a reasonable long-term contract and savor whatever defense/base-running he's giving you, and hope he can repeat 2011 some day. The only way I see it being a losing proposition is if you panic and trade him.


Well then you'll have a 3rd down year in a four year stretch out of your centerfielder who was supposed to be one of your key components. So that's part of the problem. Also, if he has another mediocre-poor season isn't that precisely the sort of player you were ranting about the other day vis-a-vis Ciriaco/Nava/et al? The risk with Ellsbury is that a long term contract becomes the Alex Rios deal and the only way he signs a deal that cheap is with another off or injured season which is not a good thing.

When 2012 concludes Jacoby Ellsbury will have had one season over 3.0 WAR in five MLB seasons. Injuries are part of the reason of course though it should be noted that in the two injury seasons he didn't exactly tear it up when he was in there (sample sizes and unfinished business acknowledged). I think he's a high risk signing.

That said if he tears it up the rest of the year and goes off in 2013 then yeah, you probably want to give him a huge pile of money. I don't think it's at all clear today what the right thing to do with him is and if I'm the Sox unless I get a discount this off-season I'm waiting to sign him.

Edited to remove overstatement on my part.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4207256)
I say just let him play out 2013 and let someone else spend big for his huge deal ... and then teach Crawford how to play CF.

What's a reasonable long-term contract for a 30 year old center fielder who has typically hit for a sub-100 OPS+ and who has missed 40% of his games due to injuries?


Why on earth would you phrase it this way about a guy with a 107 career OPS+ and who has actually missed about 33% of the time due to injury?
   22. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4207263)
I don't think it's at all clear today what the right thing to do with him is


Which means unless the Sox get blown away by an offer they should not trade him.
   23. Dale Sams Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4207266)
I'm with 21. Let him play it out and let's get a better idea of what we have here. And I understand emphasizing negative things to make a point. We all do it, but Jesus Christos! The guy had a HOF season not too long ago. That's the kind of thing you take a chance on happening again. Especially given how athletic the guy is and how durable he is in terms of non-freak injuries.

What is a 4 WAR (My median-low guess) CF worth for the next 5 years? I'm asking. Put aside the injury prone stuff cause those were freak injuries.

Edit: 4? Maybe that isn't median-low.
   24. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 13, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4207303)
Put aside the injury prone stuff cause those were freak injuries.


While I tend to agree Ellsbury should not be viewed as injury prone I do not think his 'freak' injuries can be simply ignored. Lots of people slide into bases without dislocating their shoulders. And two people were involved in the collision that led to his rib injury - Beltre walked away from it uninjured. I don't think Ellsbury is Jed Lowrie or anything, but until he can prove otherwise I don't see how his injury history is anything other than a negative.
   25. Dale Sams Posted: August 13, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4207310)
Beltre has adamantium bones. And Ellsbury got his shoulder suplexed by a 200 pound guy. He's proven he his durability by running into walls with his face and laying out all the time coming up injury-free. Not to mention being able to go full-speed and stay hammy free.
   26. tjm1 Posted: August 13, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4207315)
I don't think Ellsbury is an especially bad injury risk, but I'd still take Elvis Andrus for him in a straight up deal if the Rangers decide they lack the creativity to get Andrus and Profar in the lineup at the same time.
   27. The Good Face Posted: August 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4207354)
I don't think Ellsbury is an especially bad injury risk, but I'd still take Elvis Andrus for him in a straight up deal if the Rangers decide they lack the creativity to get Andrus and Profar in the lineup at the same time.


Texas has been putting Profar into games at 2B fairly regularly of late in the minors. A small bit of evidence that they're planning on playing Andrus and Profar together in the infield. Of course, that would leave Texas with Ian Kinsler, corner OF, so who knows what they're going to do. Profar may not even be ready yet, he's cooled off a good bit with the bat in the second half.
   28. RobertMachemer Posted: August 13, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4207447)
The thing is, I don't know that we should believe that 2011 is "for real," and the Ellsbury who we had both prior to and after that was really unremarkable. From what I understand, he played a decent, but not great center field (weak arm and late jumps negated the speed somewhat). He stole bases well in those years, sure, but that just meant that his overall contribution to offense was, what, he was about an average player? That has value, sure, but not lock-the-player-up-for-a-long-time kind of value. And a player who has had potential as a hitter and a history of injuries will not be asked (or allowed) to steal bases much in the future.

It's not a perfect match, but Darren Erstad isn't entirely dissimilar either. Each player is one that if you could believe that his best year was indicative of what was to come, great, he's a heckuva player, but most of the rest of the time, he simply was not a star, despite what the people who watched him everyday thought (because the electricity of speed tends to be blinding to other qualities). I would not sweat over losing Ellsbury if it looked like I'd have to pay top dollar to keep him, and if someone offered a younger up-the-middle player who's cheaper and could well be about as good, I'd at least strongly consider the offer.

Years ago, I thought I'd be thrilled if Ellsbury turned out to be Brett Butler. I still would be. He's had one season better than anything Butler did, and a lot of seasons worse than the typical Butler season. The one season was terrific, the others are pretty eh. I'd rather have a Butler type (and a Butler type might not cost as much) who was both consistent and healthy.

Mind you, I wouldn't trade Ellsbury in a Youkilis ("who needs to get anything back?") trade either. I'm not saying dump the guy, I'm just viewing him with (I think, a healthy dose of) skepticism.
   29. Dan Posted: August 13, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4207449)
Why couldn't Kinsler play CF? He steal 20-30 bags a year and seems to generally have the speed necessary to play CF.
   30. OCD SS Posted: August 13, 2012 at 09:14 PM (#4207629)
If your argument is that there should be little weight placed on after-the-fact evaluations of roster moves, then what do you blame the owners for? Their plan was executed! "Based on generally accepted talent evaluations" the Red Sox did "maintain their competitive chances" by "adding a starter, overhauling the 'pen, and building in depth across the roster without significantly increasing payroll." Ownership set a reasonable goal, baseball ops hit that goal. What is there to complain about, based on generally accepted talent evaluations at the time?

The Red Sox from 2010 to 2012, based on the generally accepted evaluations of the club before the fact, have projected as a playoff favorite, the best team in baseball, and a solid playoff contender. They have missed the playoffs three years in a row. Your method holds that the Red Sox haven't actually done anything wrong. I reject the method.


Where did I say that the Red Sox as a whole didn't do anything wrong? I don't have a problem assigning blame, but if it doesn't land on the right head then nothing is accomplished. My argument is that the suggestion that Cherington should be fired for this season's under-performance (as sugested by Nate in #1, and what I responded to in #2) doesn't make a lot of sense, and would essentially be a PR sacrifice. Every time I see a move made for the expediency of PR it seems like said move is quick grab at some headlines and ignores the fundamental/ systemic problems that caused the mess.

So the biggest problem I see is actually that the Sox are expected to be the Junior Yankees and make the playoffs every year regardless of if that is actually feasible. Any mention that the team may need to enter a rebuilding phase, even for a single season, is met with such an outcry that the team continues to spend in ever more hysterical attempt to plug the holes on a roster that has specialized in collapse, so ownership can keep selling tickets and bricks and other piles of crap. Suddenly a three year playoff drought is considered downright offensive to the fanbase, but ownership isn't actually willing to spend with the Yankees, especially when the new CBA means that they'd lose a sh!t ton of money. I don't blame them for putting their own profits in priority, but I do find the dishonest salesmanship that accompanies that to be an issue as it seems to be directing spending and player moves.

So is baseball ops directing this spending? When I look at Lucchino, I'm looking at a guy who's forte in the past has been stadium building and reconstruction, and now doesn't have much to do at Fenway, and is suddenly agitating for ownership to have more of voice in BB ops; that implies doing more than giving a budget and yea or nea on trades. This season it appears to also include not letting the GM pick the manager and instead getting Valentine. I'm also looking at an exec without clearly defined duties (at least to the public) who can remain essentially blameless when things go poorly, but can take a lot of credit when they go well ("This ownership group brought a championship to Boston!"). If ownership is telling the GM that he's got to solve a bunch of problems and make moves to energize the fanbase so they keep buying tickets, but without increasing spending, then I don't hold said GM accountable after a single season.

The benefit to the Sox organization to me is the method where the GM isn't a loan genius. Looking at the contract limitations the Sox are dealing with now, I get the feeling that firing Ben would really just be therapeutic for people who'd like to see them fire Theo, but can't get that satisfaction. I want to know what the hell is going on with the medical staff (for the third year in a row) and what Baird brings to the table, but until the roster is allowed to be reconfigured without the expectation that it will result in an immediate return to the playoffs, I don't think changes to the FO are going to accomplish much.


   31. OCD SS Posted: August 14, 2012 at 07:27 AM (#4207819)
I guess I can't edit in the above, so I'll add that I'd be much more worried if it looked like they flushed a long term plan that appears sound in a crazy GFIN push after it was derailed by one or two bad years that were outliers due to injury. Ben, to outward appearances, looks like a stabilizing presence, which is why I don't want to see him canned in a petty move to try and head off a poor news cycle. Changes to the FO won't mean much if Ownership is tinkering with the roster to increase buzz or make the team seem competitive when it's not.

Another issue is talent evaluation, which is clearly a sore spot. But when players go out and do something that absolutely no one predicted (such has Crawford's horrible season or Reddick's break out) I just have a hard time looking at that as a failure just as I don't give myself a hard time for not picking the Powerball numbers correctly. I'm much more concerned about the medical staff short circuiting everything. Moving Lowrie and Scutaro made sense from a standpoint of trying to get the roster younger and healthier, but then why did they go and get someone like Bailey? (And for the record I'm starting to think that it doesn't matter if a player's injuries are of the fluke variety or not; they always seem to find the same guys, and if you want your team on the field those are guys you should avoid.) I'm guessing many of the moves from the past offseason point to what the Sox had to deal not being very appealing.
   32. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 14, 2012 at 08:57 AM (#4207832)
So the biggest problem I see is actually that the Sox are expected to be the Junior Yankees and make the playoffs every year regardless of if that is actually feasible. Any mention that the team may need to enter a rebuilding phase, even for a single season, is met with such an outcry that the team continues to spend in ever more hysterical attempt to plug the holes on a roster that has specialized in collapse, so ownership can keep selling tickets and bricks and other piles of crap. Suddenly a three year playoff drought is considered downright offensive to the fanbase, but ownership isn't actually willing to spend with the Yankees, especially when the new CBA means that they'd lose a sh!t ton of money.
Well, I disagree with this in pretty much every way possible.

1) Theory. The Red Sox spend ~$180M to the Yankees' ~$210M. Why should we think that the extra 16% bonus payroll is the difference between continued contention and needing to enter a "rebuilding phase"?

2) History. From 2003-2009, the Red Sox did precisely the thing you were arguing isn't feasible. They entirely overhauled the roster without cutting payroll or ever coming into the season an underdog to the make the playoffs. They won two world series and made four league championship series. I don't see why they can't do that again.

3) Practicality. Did you want the Red Sox to "rebuild" in 2010 or 2011? This was the Red Sox core in those seasons:

Kevin Youkilis, age 31-32
Dustin Pedroia, age 26-27
Victor Martine, age 31
Jacoby Ellsbury, age 26-27
David Ortiz, age 34-35
Jon Lester, age 26-27
Clay Buchholz, age 25-26
Josh Beckett, age 30-31
Jonathan Papelbon, age 29-30

You see a team that needs to rebuild there? I see a team you build around and win a world series. I think tearing it down in 2010-2011 would have been absolute malpractice.

Then coming into 2012, this was the core:

Gonzalez (30), Pedroia (28), Youkilis (33), Crawford (30), Ellsbury (28), Ortiz (36) Lester (28), Buchholz (27), Beckett (32), Bard (27)

There's way too much young talent there to justify not making a run at the playoffs. That's a core of players mostly at their peaks.

Now, there was a case for blowing things up previous to 2012, but that case rested not on a lack of talent or an objective, context-neutral evaluation of the club. It was that something had gone horribly wrong down the stretch in 2011, and you shouldn't bring back the same players, regardless of talent, and expect a different result. If your argument is merely that the 2012 Red Sox should have been blown up for peculiar reasons and the club rebuilt from there, I don't necessarily disagree.

I do disagree with the premise that such a rebuilding is a regular, necessary part of running a $180M payroll club. I point out the Red Sox actually did rebuild their roster between 2003-2009 without a year in which they did not seek to contend. And if your specific desire is that the Red Sox should have rebuilt some time between 2010-2012, I have trouble seeing when the club's core wasn't primarily stars in their prime. Again, after 2012, after the disaster, there was a case for a rebuild, but again it wasn't about the talent.
   33. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 14, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4208093)
Kelly Shoppach to the Mets for a PTBNL. I'm not at all surprised that the Sox moved him, but the Mets seem an unusual destination given how far out of it they are.
   34. Dale Sams Posted: August 14, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4208132)
Aviles cleared waivers....somehow...maybe Beane can't get owners to pony up the .6 million or so
   35. Lassus Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:13 PM (#4208215)
Is it too late to yel: TOGA! TOGA! TOGA! in response to this headline?
   36. Dale Sams Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:22 PM (#4208232)
Not at all. I've said, "It's over man. Wormer dropped the big one.", several times this season.
   37. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:52 PM (#4208268)
Yahoo! is reporting that some--but not all of the Red Sox players, including Gonzalez and Pedroia (no surprise)--texted ownership to try to get Valentine fired. Later there was a meeting about this. Apparently, the Red Sox clubhouse is a complete mess, and possibly also a gossip-y home room at an All-Girls High School.

EDIT: link here
   38. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4208272)
From the beginning of the Red Sox's courtship of Valentine this offseason to the double-barreled votes of confidence last week, the match of the hard-nosed Bobby V with the laissez-faire Boston clubhouse seemed tenuous at best. It has proven far worse, personified best perhaps by a picture circulating around via text message, according to a fourth source.

Pedroia, notorious among teammates for his wit and humor, is in the foreground with a giddy smile, his tongue wagging and both thumbs up. Next to him is allegedly Valentine, face down on a table, apparently asleep. A caption accompanies the picture: "Our manager contemplating his lineup at 3:30 p.m."


From the above-linked Yahoo article.
   39. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4208273)
Actual clubhouse revolution. Damn. This club is all kinds of ###### up.

That should go on the main board, I'll post it...
   40. Dale Sams Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4208275)
I'm sure the general populace would LOVE another story about the fourth place Red Sox, but if you don't post it...someone else will.
   41. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4208278)
This stuff? A real clubhouse mutiny, against a famous manager in the middle of a season? This is be great stuff for all people, except people who are happy when the Red Sox win.
   42. Joel W Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4208280)
I think Pedroia and Gonzalez come off as petulant brats.
   43. Dale Sams Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4208281)
Oh, I agree. I'm just sure a lot of people's first thought's will be "Another story?", then "Oooooh this is juicy!"
   44. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4208287)
Yeah, I was gonna let one of y'all post it.
   45. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4208288)
I think Pedroia and Gonzalez come off as petulant brats.
No one comes off well. I'm coming around to radical blow-it-up-ism. I don't think the Red Sox can afford to either retain Valentine or keep the core of the club in tact. Everything is awful, and they can't win like this.
   46. Joel W Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4208297)
I have not come around to radical blowitupism. I think Bobby V has to go because Pedroia and Gonzalez are with us for awhile. Of course, Gonzalez has hit like Babe Ruth since that supposed meeting.
   47. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4208302)
I'm not saying trade everyone. I'm saying trade just enough people to make it very clear to the players that things are gonna change around here.
   48. Fourth True Outcome Posted: August 14, 2012 at 06:17 PM (#4208374)
I agree that this makes Pedroia and Gonzalez look really bad, but what exactly is the utility in keeping Valentine around? Even if that means he's getting what may be a somewhat raw deal here, shouldn't the team be looking to salvage what it can of the season and position itself for the future? It seems like this clubhouse situation is untenable, and, fair or not, jettisoning Bobby V seems like a no-brainer step towards easing that at this point. I don't know how much of this is his fault, but at some point that stops mattering, and it seems to me things must be close to that point.
   49. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 14, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4208377)
I agree that this makes Pedroia and Gonzalez look really bad, but what exactly is the utility in keeping Valentine around?
I could imagine a scenario where management gives Valentine credit for how well the kids and the scrubs have performed, and think that if they make some major changes to the core, that Valentine can produce a contending club.

I could imagine it. That's about as far as I'll go in saying there's utility to keeping Valentine. I'd be perfectly on board with firing him in the next week, too.
   50. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: August 14, 2012 at 06:21 PM (#4208381)
Shoppach to the Mets.

edit..never mind, it's hours old.
   51. Toby Posted: August 14, 2012 at 09:39 PM (#4208499)
So in light of today's developments, I got to thinking, how do you sort out who is at fault here? Is it Bobby V? Cherington? Lucchino? Lester and Beckett? The team doctors?

Then I realized there are just way too many people that you could point a finger at here, from all those guys I just named (who all have some large share of blame) to guys with small but nonzero shares of blame, like Sweeney (for stupidly getting hurt) and Byrd (for sucking). [Aside: Can it really be THIS SEASON that we had Marlon Byrd? That seems like so long ago.]

So maybe a better and more optimistic approach is to look at the other way: Who is above reproach? Which people in the dugout and in the front office are unquestionably, entirely without blame here? Here are some nominations for that list.

Big Papi -- enough said.
Will Middlebrooks -- the best story this year.
Felix Doubront -- nice job.
Cody Ross -- a really nice pickup.
Aviles and Saltalamacchia -- kinda vanilla, but I'll take it, and they've been adequate or perhaps better.
Clay Buchholz -- Best pitcher on the staff this year.

Honorable mention to a number of guys who have shown some unexpected spark in limited time, like Nava, Ciriaco, Podsednik.

That's all I got, unless I've forgotten someone (and quite possibly I have). Everybody else I can think of has been disappointing, frustrating, annoying, or something else non-positive. I suppose some of the bullpen guys could go here, but to be honest for most of the year I've been averting my eyes from this team in the late innings.
   52. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 14, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4208508)
Big Papi -- enough said.

How did all this happen on his leadership? Not saying he's to blame, but he doesn't seem to have headed off the whining to ownership.
   53. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 14, 2012 at 10:41 PM (#4208521)
Papi's not really a leader I don't think. Not in an intentional manner anyway. I think he's a leader because he is who he is and what he has accomplished but Papi is a guy who spends a lot of time with a chip on his shoulder and a me against the world attitude. He's a bit like Pedro in the way he takes any slight incredibly personally and uses it to motivate himself. I think Papi is more concerned with how Valentine treats Papi than anything else.

The above sounds a lot worse than I mean it to. I'm a huge David Ortiz fan and I think his attitude works for him. I think Pedroia is more of a "leader" than Ortiz in that Pedroia is someone who I think would rally people around him if he hit .220 while Ortiz would just fade away. I don't know if that makes sense or answers your question.
   54. OCD SS Posted: August 14, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4208527)
Well, I disagree with this in pretty much every way possible.


So you bought a brick?

MCoA, you misinterpreted what I wrote as an argument that they should have moved into a rebuilding phase earlier. The time frame I am addressing is this year, and looking at what ownership is doing that to me makes having the blame fall on Ben little more than a PR stunt that keeps the stink off of Lucchino. But let's look at your points:


1) Theory. The Red Sox spend ~$180M to the Yankees' ~$210M. Why should we think that the extra 16% bonus payroll is the difference between continued contention and needing to enter a "rebuilding phase"?


Because expressing a number as a percentage doesn't hide that it's also ~ $30M, and that does buy a lot. For instance the difference between John Lackey and CC Sabathia. Or the difference between Lackey and Mike Cameron and Matt Holliday.

2) History. From 2003-2009, the Red Sox did precisely the thing you were arguing isn't feasible.


I'm not arguing it's not feasible, I agree that they've kept that model going to a remarkable degree. But with 2009 the talent pipeline from the minors that also allowed them to work in younger impact players had sputtered out, and they were spending more on FA's and not getting the truly elite players on the market (well, until Crawford, and believe me, as much as I argued for signing him I know this doesn't help my case) has caused problems as they've aged. My argument is that it's something that ownership should be willing to consider. I argued for it at this trade deadline and as an option to retool going into 2013, and you've established that you're pretty much against that.

3) Practicality. Did you want the Red Sox to "rebuild" in 2010 or 2011?


I was perfectly happy with the bridge year talk, that said "OK, we're going to take a step back an not go crazy and try to work in smaller, lower priced solutions." Maybe if they'd kept to that they don't sign Lackey (I don't remember the timeline)? I was also fine with it this year, which AFAIC is the primary off-season under discussion when you're complaining about the roster moves and saying that the GM should be fired.

With the real sh!tstorm that's come up, I'll just end by pointing out that Hiring Bobby V falls squarely on Lucchino and ownership, not baseball ops.
   55. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 15, 2012 at 09:43 AM (#4208619)
We've clearly talked past each other a couple times. I'm going to respond below, but I want to make one clarifying point here, because I haven't been clear on the thing I disagree with.

You have argued for a "rebuilding phase" of a year or more in length. I take "rebuilding" to refer to a period of time where the club is not trying to make the playoffs and win the World Series. I dispute that the Red Sox (a) in theory should need to take years off from trying to compete at the highest level and (b) in practice have lacked the core talent to compete at the highest level.

I guess by "rebuilding phase", you could refer to a period where the Red Sox balance long- and short-term goals, but I think the Red Sox should always be balancing long- and short-term goals. I don't believe that the Red Sox need to sacrifice real competitiveness in the short-term to realize long-term success.
Because expressing a number as a percentage doesn't hide that it's also ~ $30M, and that does buy a lot. For instance the difference between John Lackey and CC Sabathia. Or the difference between Lackey and Mike Cameron and Matt Holliday.
The latter one kind of makes my point. The Red Sox can't outbid the Cardinals? And indeed we know they could, because the Red Sox spent a combined $25M on Cameron and Lackey in 2010, which is more than Holliday cost. I think that you're mistaking bad decisions for a structural inability to compete.

Likewise, if you're arguing that the Red Sox lacked the talent to compete in 2012, I point you again to the pre-season roster. How is that not a playoff contending core? The Red Sox made very bad decisions in putting together their roster for the season, which cost the team many wins.

Now, as I said, I see the case for making major changes after 2011 because of clubhouse problems, but I don't think it's correct to say that the talent the Red Sox had under contract this offseason was insufficient for a playoff run. And if they weren't, then there's no need for a "rebuilding phase" where the club doesn't try to compete. They might need to rebuild because of personality problems and clubhouse conflict, but that's a different issue. We shouldn't have any expectation that future Red Sox clubs will need to be broken up because the clubhouse got out of hand.
   56. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 15, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4208622)
AAV on Matt Holliday's contract: $17.1M
AAV on John Lackey's contract: $16.5M

This isn't a structural problem, it's a bad decision problem.
   57. toratoratora Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4208698)
Yesterdays discussion re the Nats and their playoff chances ("It's a lock!")had me peeking back in the old threads and I found this gem:

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/sox_therapy/discussion/august_is_the_500est_month

Reading it is astounding-it's like stepping into a Twilight Zone Episode and really brings home how massively, and quick, this whole thing crumbled.
A year ago the Sox looked to be a playoff lock* and were held up as The Example on how to run an organization. They were lauded from top to bottom, JH to Tito.
Stable ownership, the brilliant GM, Tito, minor leagues that were supposedly great at player development, a love affair between the team and the Nation, a team that looked prime to contend through at least 2014 or 2015.
Now....damn....it's like someone threw a hand grenade in the mix, there's just shrapnel wounds and body parts everywhere.
They've become a mockery of what an organization should be, completely (at least looking in from the outside) dysfunctional in almost all aspects. The collapse sucked, but this is baseball. Awful as it was, these things happen (They just seem to happen to the Sox a lot). But this organizational public hari-kari is insane.
Splits between The CEO and the GM. A GM who has made a number of questionable moves. The boy genius splits, leaving a snot load of lousy contracts in his wake. Hiring a manager who more often than not throws fuel on fires rather than tamping them. This anarchy in the clubhouse. A medical staff that seemingly got their degrees in a Capt Crunch box.
And all done in the brightest spotlight, not handled quietly behind the scenes.
WTF?

Outside of PSU football, I can't recall a team falling this far this fast.

(Course, all blame can easily be thrown at LeBron. He bought into FSG in 2011 and nothing's been the same since)

This is very possibly, bordering on probably, the least likeable Red Sox team of my lifetime, and seeing how I've been a fan since 75, that's saying something.


*Forum post number two(And I agreed with the sentiment so I'm not picking on WJ) goes, "Since none of the games from here until the start of the playoffs matter in the slightest, it will be interesting to see how the Yankees and Red Sox play out the string."

Oooh, that hurts to read now.
   58. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 15, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4208769)
57 - Well, to their credit, two posters were not so sure it was over. Also enjoyed the comments that *if* the Nats were to get Wandy, they might have a good team around 2013 ... or not because they'd still have to compete with Atlanta and Philly.
It's a funny game.
   59. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 16, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4209795)
Pedro Beato is the PTBNL in the Kelly Shoppach deal. An arm is an arm I suppose.
   60. Nasty Nate Posted: August 16, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4209804)
Pedro Beato is the PTBNL in the Kelly Shoppach deal. An arm is an arm I suppose.


One positive thing that the Sox have done is set up a situation in which they won't have to spend money on a bullpen for a few years. This counterbalances their trend of spending 10's of millions of dollars for absolute dick in the starting rotation.
   61. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 21, 2012 at 10:07 AM (#4213573)
I'm not sure it's appropriate to submit as a news item since I don't know what the rules are regarding advertising. I'll note here that today is the annual Jimmy Fund telethon which on an annual basis makes me proud to be a Red Sox fan. The organization can be greedy, sometimes to a disturbing extent, but the relationship with the Jimmy Fund is one they should be proud of.

And it should be noted that the relationship with the Jimmy Fund by Boston baseball was in fact started by the Boston Braves.

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