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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thankful for an Amazing Decade

It seems to be a thing to pick an All-Decade team these days and with Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, upon us it’s a good way to express our thanks for this amazing decade where the Boston Red Sox won as many World Series titles as the rest of the American League combined.

So, just a bit of fun for your reading pleasure or to be ignored.  No refunds will be issued.

1B - Mike Napoli
Other Nominees: Mitch Moreland, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis

First base has been a bit of a rotating position this decade.  The Sox really haven’t sparkled at the position.  Youk was raking before his season-ending injury in 2010 and Gonzalez had a great 2011 but never really connected with the fan base.  Napoli had just the one great season but was SUCH a fun player that year and gets the nod as much for his “hey that’s what I’d do” celebration walking the streets of Boston shirtless and drunk after game six in 2013.

2B - Dustin Pedroia
Other Nominees: Yeah right

To quote Bill Simmons quoting the movie “Cocktail” “everything ends badly or it wouldn’t end.”  But still, Pedroia is on most Sox’ fans short list of all time favorites.  While he may get some Eckstein/Jeter/gritty little fella type praise in the press the guy was a legitimately great player for a long time. 

3B - Adrian Beltre
Other Nominees: Rafael Devers, Will Middlebrooks

OK, so Beltre had just the one year but this is as much about what I am thankful for as how good the players were.  Beltre of course was great and while I am thrilled to watch Devers become a superstar I am truly thankful that for one season I got to watch the mercurial Beltre ply his trade for my favorite team.

SS - Xander Bogaerts
Other Nominees: Stephen Drew, Mike Aviles

This one is a no-brainer of course. Xander has grown to be another true star on an amazing group of youngsters that came through the system at the same time and became a legitimate force winning three straight division titles and a World Series.  Beyond that he truly has made the team his in my opinion.  While Mookie Betts is the star, I feel like Xander is to Mookie what Varitek was to Ortiz, the rock that stabilized things. 

LF - Andrew Benintendi
Other Nominees: Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes, Carl Cra-ha-ha-ha…no.

Is it just me or is the combo Nava and Gomes a bit forgotten?  They really did a terrific job in 2013.  They were polar opposites personality wise with the quiet Nava and boisterous Gomes fitting like puzzle pieces on a team that probably was the best “hey chemistry matters” team I can remember.

But Benny is a very good player.  I don’t think there is a superstar there but he has been a solid contributor for three years now and his rocket ascension through the system allowed the Manuel Margot trade and his catch to end game four of the 2018 ALCS is one for the ages.

CF - Jacoby Ellsbury
Other Nominees: Mike Cameron, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Ellsbury had a bit of Gonzalez to him.  He never seemed a “Boston guy” in a lot of ways and of course his inability to stay healthy was a problem. At the same time few Red Sox players have ever had the dynamic ability to impact a game that Ellsbury had.

RF - Mookie Betts
Other Nominees: Shane Victorino, JD Drew

Victorino was a surprising star in 2013.  That season in both style and performance would fit not entirely badly in Mookie Betts’ statline.

But oh Mookie.  What a player.  What do I say about Mookie?  I really love the guy.  He’s a great player, he seems to be having a great old time out there.  It’s tough to write about him now, god I want the Sox to sign him so badly.  Beyond that what do I say? Do I spend 500 words gushing about how good he is or do I just sit back and accept that we all know and agree.  The only black mark on his career so far is a disappointing post-season performance but his fan interference catch of Altuve’s drive in game four was overshadowed by Benintendi’s later in the game but may have been an even better play and his homer in game five of the World Series was the moment I thought “yeah, this is our night.”

C - Blake Swi….OK, fine fine FINE. Be that way.

C - Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Other Nominees: Sandy Leon, Jason Varitek, Christian Vazquez, Dave Ross

I loved Salty.  I was skeptical of him when he arrived but he had a couple of real good seasons in 2012 and 2013 and a friend and I would race to text “SALTY!” every time he went deep those years.

It’s funny, I’ve felt good about the performance of Sox’ catchers this decade but they have not really had a steady hand back there though it seems Vazquez is about to be one.

DH - David Ortiz
Other Nominees: J.D. Martinez, Hanley Ramirez

Boy it’s tough to not give the nod to the guy who has done what JDM has done the last couple of years but Big Papi is Big Papi.  Such a great hitter of course and that 2013 World Series was a tour de force both in performance and his memorable in-game speech that the Sox responded too with a comeback victory.

Utility Player - Brock Holt

I had to squeeze the Brockstar in there.  He probably gets a bit more praise than his performances deserve but as a role player he is very good and his work with the Jimmy Fund is deservedly praised and his walk off hit in the continuation game in August this past season was probably the highlight of the season.

SP - Jon Lester, Chris Sale, David Price, Clay Buchholz, Eduardo Rodriguez
Other Nominees: Steven Wright, John Lackey, Rick Porcello, Tim Wakefield, Josh Beckett, Jake Peavy

It’s funny, growing up the Sox were the team that never had pitching but since Roger Clemens arrival they’ve virtually always had a superstar at the top of the rotation.  Lester was a rock at the top of the rotation.  Sale has been worth the prospect price.  Speaking of prices David has had his issues but in 2018 he came up huge and probably deserved the WS MVP.

EdRod really blossomed in 2019 but even before that he had been a strong contributor.  Buchholz is a funny guy.  He is kind of the Derek Lowe of the 10s.  He was frustrating as it seemed you either got stardom.  What I remember about him most though is his performance in game four in the 2013 World Series.  It was only 4 innings of 1 run ball but a guy often viewed like Lowe as a mental midget he gutted it out through injury.

Setup Men: Daniel Bard, Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Miller
Other Nominees: Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Craig Breslow

Boy oh boy did it end with a thud for Bard but for a couple years there he was something else.  Miller had a brief run but he was money when he was on.  Tazawa also had a short run but if that run includes “guy who owned Miguel Cabrera in an ALCS” that’s pretty impressive.

Closer: Koji Uehara
Other Nominees: Jonathan Papelbon, Craig Kimbrel

The Sox have had some pretty solid closers for over a decade but Koji gets the nod from me.  He was 20 pounds of fun in a 5 pound bag and his celebration after the final outs of the ALCS and WS in 2013 was pure Koji, smiling, jumping and sort of gliding toward home plate to leap into his catcher’s arms.

Manager: John Farrell
Other Nominees: Terry Francona, Alex Cora

This is a tough one.  I can hear the screaming now but I’m still not sure about Cora.  I think he can be a great manager but he’s had one elite season and one very disappointing one.  Francona was at the end of his run in 2010-11 and for this decade loses out because of it but he’s still my pick on an all time Sox team for manager.

Farrell I always felt got treated unfairly.  No he wasn’t brilliant but he won a World Series, he won three division titles and I think the development of the impressive core the Sox still possess is a credit to Farrell.

That’s my list.  Sometimes we all get a bit too passionate perhaps and get frustrated with things but let’s face facts, the last two decades of Red Sox baseball are the greatest era in team history and as a Sox fan, I am eternally thankful for that.

Please have a wonderful and save Thanksgiving.  It doesn’t get said enough around here but I think we are fortunate that even on this baseball-mad site we have a little slice of our own to build a community of fans to chat about that which interests us.  Be well Therapudians.

Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: November 27, 2019 at 08:52 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Darren Posted: November 27, 2019 at 10:16 PM (#5904294)
Hey, I would like to disagree about some of these! What fun!

--Youkilis has to be ... something. He was a great player for 2010-11. And before that, somehow, too.

--Nava is obviously the only choice for LF. And for everything else.

--Bradley vs. Ellsbury is a fun one. Both at exactly 15.0 bWAR!
   2. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: November 28, 2019 at 08:22 PM (#5904422)
Youk was a lot better in 2011 than I remembered. I’m still going with Napoli but I loved Youk.
   3. villageidiom Posted: December 02, 2019 at 12:08 PM (#5904826)
I think the list is spot on. My only quibble is with the other nominees for starting pitcher. Drew Pomeranz was not always healthy, and certainly not flashy. But he went 17-6 in 2017, a season that ended with Boston pitching getting uncharacteristically pounded at Minute Maid Park. I'm only arguing he should've been a nominee. He shouldn't crack the top 5.

And now that we've been thankful, who are our Thanksgiving turkeys of the decade?

1B - James Loney. I have no problem with James Loney. He was with Boston only to round out the disastrous 2012 season, the main MLB return from the Punto trade. But he was horrible in that time, with a 570 OPS.

2B - Ian Kinsler. I have no problem with Ian Kinsler. But when Boston got him for the 2018 stretch drive he was in the twilight of his career.

3B - Pablo Sandoval.

SS - Yamaico Navarro. Boston's shortstops could either hit and field, or field very well. Navarro could handle shortstop OK, but wasn't Iglesian or anything. That's too bad, because his bat needed him to be Iglesian if his presence were to be justified.

C - A.J. Pierzynski. He was OK with Boston. But there are very few candidates for this one.

LF - I have to choose? Damn. As much as I want to say Carl Crawford, I think I have to put Hanley Ramirez here. He was so bad they had to find another position for him.

CF - Mike Cameron. Remember that whole plan to have Ellsbury play LF and Cameron play CF? And then Ellsbury got hurt in a collision with Beltre? What is often forgotten in that stretch is the two years of poor hitting, aging range, and injury that we got from Cameron.

RF - Rusney Castillo. I have nothing against Rusney Castillo. He was OK. Most of the RF candidates are at worst OK. It's more a commentary on the contract, as Boston paid a lot for OK.

DH - Allen Craig. Same.

SP: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront, Allen Webster, Henry Owens - The first two were great in the prior decade, but we got the worst of them in this one. The latter three seemed like they had a lot of promise but could never deliver on it. Before 2019 Doubront was the one who Eduardo Rodriguez reminded me of... It just seemed like he would pitch well for a few innings and then couldn't get through the 5th.

RP: Joel Hanrahan. I mean, there are tons of relievers who didn't do well for Boston. Hanrahan was the epitome of the relief turkey. He only pitched in 9 games for Boston, and none in MLB since. He got 4 saves, none by entering with a 1-run lead. He had 2 blown saves. He was injured for most of his tenure, as was the custom for Boston relief acquisitions of the time.

Manager: Bobby Valentine.
   4. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: December 02, 2019 at 12:53 PM (#5904858)
I'd go with Andrew Bailey over Hanrahan. He was equally bad and came at a pretty substantial cost. The Hanrahan trade included Brock Holt so while he was a disaster the trade worked out OK.
   5. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 02, 2019 at 01:51 PM (#5904888)
I'd go with Andrew Bailey over Hanrahan.

No mention of the supposed "Tyler Thornburg" the Sox were purported to receive for Travis Shaw?
   6. Joe Bivens, Slack Rumped Rutabaga Head Posted: December 02, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5904895)
No on Saltalamonkeyface (Vazquez), no on Buchholz (Lackey or Porcello were better), and NOOOOOOO on Farrell, unless it's an Iron Mike Sharpe lookalike contest.
   7. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: December 02, 2019 at 02:11 PM (#5904902)
No mention of the supposed "Tyler Thornburg" the Sox were purported to receive for Travis Shaw?

Fictional players were not eligible for consideration.
   8. Darren Posted: December 02, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5904930)
You make a really good case for Hanley in LF, but I still think Crawford has to win out. He was so bad that we had to attach good players to him to get rid of him. At least Hanley had one year where he was useful to us. Tough call.

At catcher, I really disliked watching Salty play but I can't argue with Jose's assessment.
   9. Silas Wegg Posted: December 02, 2019 at 04:40 PM (#5904984)
I'd go with Andrew Bailey over Hanrahan.

Don't forget Marc Melancon!
   10. villageidiom Posted: December 02, 2019 at 06:16 PM (#5905031)
You make a really good case for Hanley in LF, but I still think Crawford has to win out. He was so bad that we had to attach good players to him to get rid of him. At least Hanley had one year where he was useful to us. Tough call.

Crawford was bad in the following senses:
1. Bad hitter but healthy in year 1.
2. Good hitter but injured in year 2.
3. Insane contract that even his prior performance couldn't possibly justify.

He was traded because of #3.

Arguably they got a good year out of Hanley because he was perceived as being so bad they couldn't trade him. Hell, they flat-out released him in 2018 and nobody picked him up.

In the meantime, there's also the aspect of defense. Hanley was a grossly incompetent LF. Crawford was still good, though waning. This isn't a "defensive numbers can't be believed" thing: Hanley was an obvious dumpster fire out there, and had to be moved off the position. He might have been OK at 1B, but he was a turkey in LF.
   11. John DiFool2 Posted: December 02, 2019 at 07:08 PM (#5905043)
And now that we've been thankful, who are our Thanksgiving turkeys of the decade?

Not sure why the draft/system busts weren't eligible, but Lars Anderson & Will Middlebrooks have to be on there, for starters.
   12. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: December 02, 2019 at 09:15 PM (#5905067)
WMB almost certainly should be on the turkey list but third base is tough with Fat Panda there. But a guy throwing away an MLB career because he didn't want to wear glasses is just spectacularly incompetent. Anderson I think was just incorrectly evaluated in no small part due to the Lancaster effect.

I'd take Crawford over Hanley on the turkey list. Crawford never stopped whining about being treated badly by the mean people in Boston. Hanley in all fairness handled things about as well as someone in his situation could have. He was a bust but that's on management not him.
   13. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 03, 2019 at 10:30 AM (#5905166)

Don't forget Marc Melancon!

Lowrie and Kyle Weiland were taded for Melancon
Melancon, Ivan De Jesus, Stolmy Pimentel, & Jerry Sands were traded for Hanrahan and Holt
Which boils down to Lowrie for Holt

I guess Holt was cheaper, and was able to play all over the field more than Mr. Glass. Would have been interesting to see exactly where Lowrie played with the Sox, SS in 2012 over Aviles, 3B over Middlebrooks? 2013 would be 3B, WMB sucked then, even moreso in 2014. And 2015 brings us to Fat Panda. Ew, forgot just how bad the Sox have been at 3B...So in my theoretical world, Lowrie manages to stay healthy (HAH!) and the Sox don't sign a corpulent 3B to replace him, then the value tilts in Lowrie's favor.

And the Sox still have Jenny Dell on the sidelines as WMB doesn't have that extra time to romance her.
   14. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: December 03, 2019 at 11:15 AM (#5905184)
And the Sox still have Jenny Dell on the sidelines as WMB doesn't have that extra time to romance her.

This is a point against Lowrie not for him.
   15. villageidiom Posted: December 03, 2019 at 12:45 PM (#5905224)
Lowrie and Kyle Weiland were taded for Melancon
Melancon, Ivan De Jesus, Stolmy Pimentel, & Jerry Sands were traded for Hanrahan and Holt
Which boils down to Lowrie for Holt

2 years of Lowrie for 6 years of Holt
   16. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 03, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5905254)
2 years of Lowrie for 6 years of Holt

Isn't it 3 and 7? 2012-14 for Lowrie & 2013-19 for Holt?

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