We all know that things got out of hand last year. Guys goofed off. Guys didn't take their responsibilities seriously. Players let little nicks keep them from playing. The character of the team left something to be desired. .
I like the shake-things-up-a-little/make-'em-squirm aspect of this offseason.
I hate it. We absolutely don't "know" the things you're saying that we all know. We know that this team had the talent to be the best team in baseball over a 130+ game stretch. We know that for some reason they underperformed wildly over the last 30 games.
We also know that human beings tend to make narratives ("They drink beer in the dugout", "they don't want it enough", "Francona is too nice", etc) to explain random statistical variance. We also make narratives that are accurate. But we know from Bill James and others that pretty huge random swings happen--and not ridiculously uncommonly--for no reason at all.
So, it's possible that a trio of pitcher's sullenness blew the season. But it's equally likely--perhaps even more likely--that September was simply hard luck. And the revisionist tendency to write it out as "We all KNOW that things got out of hand", that goofing off was a real problem, that the issue absolutely HAD to be bad character or little nicks affecting our "wussy" players, rather than just a randomly down September---that's a big issue to me. It inspires you to make huge changes when they really may not be warranted, and inspires you to say "I'm not sure what's right, but shaking things up/making people squirm is obviously a good thing" when the truth is that we don't know that.
Indeed, even the "they drank and were loosey-goosey" thing is only spun after the fact. The 2004 team was lauded for doing a shot of Jack before the game, for being idiots who didn't take things too seriously and consequently didn't let the pressure get to them. Even if we stipulate that people weren't all workaholics and sometimes unwound early in the day, we don't KNOW that that hurt the on-field performance--that's a narrative that the press and fans write post facto, and there's no evidence that the narrative is really illustrative of anything that legitimately affected performance. It just makes us feel better about the script.
Really, given what we KNOW--results-wise--I'd rather go into this spring with exactly the team we had going into last spring than with a team randomly shaken up for weird armchair psychology/"something has to change" reasons. Obviously that can't happen--even before any decisions were made, players are older, contracts are a year later, etc, and obviously Theo and Tito are now gone--but the unmitigated belief that a team that was on pace for over 100 wins into early September is clearly and obviously in need of massive random shakeups seems completely bizarre to me.
Edited by SumnerH, 22 December 2011 - 12:28 AM.