Bloody Sox

Red Sox Rants — and other random opinions about sports

Archive for the tag “Ben Cherington”

Not a talent failure, but a failure to evaluate talent

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It’s been a long, long time since I posted to this blog. I didn’t feel much need to in 2013. Everything was going so well… and ending so well, too. Last year just felt like a hangover from the previous year and not worthy of comment. And I’ve got Twitter when I really need to vent.

But the 2015 edition of the Red Sox are so bad and in so many ways that I really do need the roomier space of a blog to get my frustrations with them out. Thus, like the Terminator rising from the debris of an explosion, fire in its eyes, Bloody Sox is stirring from its long nap.

At least this one time.

So, the Boston Red Sox. What to make of this miserable performance?

Actually, the real problem is that the rest of the division sucks too. As I write this, the Red Sox are only four games out of first, even though they have the fifth worst record in all MLB. This is just a tease that tickles us into continuing to have hope where none is really justified.

Because the sad truth is that this team just is not that talented. The lineup is consists of broken down veterans, unproven rookies (or near rookies), and Dustin Pedroia. The rotation are rejects from other clubs and Clay Buchholz, who should be a reject. The bullpen is cobbled together from retreads, with a 40-year-old closer.

John Farrell is going to take most of the heat for the 2015 failures, but the truth is that the real problem with the Boston Red Sox is that the front office sucks at talent evaluation. Want some evidence beyond this year’s performance:

  • What did the team get in return for trading John Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Andrew Miller last July? Out of all the players they received in return, only Eduardo Rodriguez appears to be useful. I mean, wouldn’t you rather have John Lackey pitching for the Sox this year than Joe Kelly (and at the league minimum no less)?
  • When was the last time a Red Sox prospect lived up to the hype beyond his initial, early success? Jacoby Ellsbury is my answer. Since then, a stream of young players have come and gone at Fenway, without making any impact. I still hold out hope for Mookie, Xander and Blake, but we can’t say any of them have established themselves as great players. Not yet.
  • This past off season, instead of being creative (i.e. finding a way to trade for Josh Donaldson), they just over pay Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, then put Hanley in a position (left field) where he is destined to fail. Sandoval is an okay player, but he’s hardly a cornerstone worth the large contract they gave him.
  • They’ve signed Wade Miley and Rick Porcello to contracts worth well-over $100 million, but they expect us to congratulate them on their fiscal responsibility, because neither contract is for more than four years. Seriously? They didn’t want to pay Jon Lester big money over six or seven years, because they thought the final three years of the contract he wouldn’t live up to it. So instead they are paying two players more than they’d pay Lester, and getting ONLY the mediocre, end-of-contract years.

Finally, imagine this scenario. Ben Cherington never signs Koji Uehura before the 2013 season. That signing always seemed an after thought. Certainly, he didn’t sign Koji to be the team’s closer (otherwise he never would have traded Mark Melancon for Joel Hanrahan). That team does not win the World Series without Koji. In fact, I doubt they even make the playoffs. Now think about how we’d view the Cherington era without that Wold Series title. It would be a colossal failure. Two last place finishes, sandwiched around a near miss and whatever this shitty season winds up being.

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The disentheofication of the Red Sox

If reports are correct, the Boston Red Sox will be making a whopper of a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers today, trading Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto for a grab bag of prospects (and James Loney). If this happens, today will be the best day for the Red Sox since they last clinched a World Series (2007). Making that statement is enough of an indictment of the way this team has been managed, I suppose. But I won’t leave it there.

Theo Epstein almost destroyed the Red Sox before he fled town for the ivy covered walls of Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs, hampering them with fat, long-term contracts for underperforming players. I truly thought it would take years before the Sox would be able to right the ship, but it looks as if Ben Cherington might just have made the deal of the decade. That doesn’t mean I am happy to see Adrian Gonzalez go. He could never, of course, live up to his contract. But he is an excellent first baseman, and he is a solid, middle-of-the-order hitter. Still, the Sox need to free up the money for his salary to plug other holes.

Carl Crawford showed signs of becoming the player he once was with Tampa Bay before deciding to get Tommy John surgery earlier this month. He too, however, could never be worth the $20 plus million the Sox owed him for the next five seasons.

As for Beckett, well good riddance.

So now Ben Cherington will have some payroll flexibility to mold this team into his own vision. I hope and expect he’ll not follow in the arrogant footsteps of his friend and mentor, Theo Epstein. That means a return to relying on prospects and making smart free agent signings, not because you CAN dole out tons of money, but because you’re filling a real need with a reliable player. Whether or not he is able to do this remains to be seen. But now at least he has that chance.

Recipe for Disaster

The Boston Red Sox will open the regular season in under two weeks, but it seems that the organization is not all on the same page regarding its goals and direction. It all goes back to last year, when there was a clear schism between new GM Ben Cherington and team president Larry Lucchino about who should be the manager. Lucchino won the day and the club hired Bobby Valentine. Now you don’t hire Bobby V. unless you are going to make a serious playoff run. They gave him only a two-year contract, so you know the pressure is on him to win now by fixing the clubhouse and getting the most from his talented players.

But Ben Cherington spent the winter putting into place modest pieces, and not even bothering to seriously address the team’s three biggest issues: the 4th and 5th starting pitchers and right field. Then he trades his starting shortstop in a salary dump in which he gets virtually nothing back. Does all that sound like a GM who expects to win this year? Not to me. It sounds like a GM who wants to start getting his ducks in a row for the future — and I have no argument with that. It’s just that I don’t think anyone bothered to tell Bobby V.

Now there is controversy about whether or not the Sox should start the season with young Jose Iglesias as their shortstop. Iglesias is by all accounts a whiz with the glove. It’s his bat that’s questioned. Cherington seems to want to let Jose season some more in the minors, while Valentine is pushing to have him take the field as one of the starting nine. If your goal is to win this year, then Iglesias has to be your shortstop. The Red Sox biggest issue last year was that the starting pitching didn’t go deep enough into games, which taxed the bullpen and left them flailing around when it mattered most in September. Iglesias at short helps the pitchers. And it isn’t like he is competing with Cal Ripken for the job. Mike Aviles couldn’t break into the Royals starting lineup. If you’re telling me the Red Sox offense is going to need his bat, I’m going to have trouble not laughing in your face.

Ask anyone in the Red Sox organization what the goal for any year is and you’ll be told it is to win the World Series. They’ll never admit to rebuilding or retooling, because they don’t want to lose their lovely string of sell outs. But in fact all the evidence points to the idea that Cherington doesn’t believe this team can win this year, so he’s looking to the future. I’m just not so sure anyone else int he organization knows this. Certainly Bobby Valentine doesn’t seem to be on the same page as Ben, and that means something is going to have to give. As Larry Lucchino has already hung his young GM out to dry, I suspect Ben Cherington is in for a long first year on the job — if he makes it that far.

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