Times have changed. Other teams are smarter. Nick Punto isn't going to be another Tim Wakefield or Bill Mueller. The only deal so far this winter that has even a remote chance to turn out like those is the Melancon trade -- which, not coincidentally, is also the deal most likely to blow up in their face.
Punto is their weakest acquisition but where he fits in became more obvious after they dumped the Scutaro contract. Dissing the Punto acquisition out of context isn't fair to Cherington. Punto was pure and simply the classic good glove utility infielder that they lacked in recent seasons. Alex Cora was probably the last middle infielder who fulfilled this role. Was it an overpay? Sure maybe a little but it was no Julio Lugo or Edgar Renteria (who were paid to be starters) overpay. Based on recent seasons, Scutaro's salary for this coming year seemed fair. However, playing at age 37, at least on the cusp of his inevitable decline, he is likely to no longer be worth that money. As many believe, Aviles will give them comparable production for a fraction of Scutaro's cost. I found this chroncile from 1 year ago rehashing the team's SS travails since Nomar:http://boston.sports...ps-since-nomar/
The method to Cherington's careful and thrifty approach seems discernable to me now. Call it Moneyball 2.0. The market inefficiency not in 2003 (but probably now) tapped out was those high OBP guys (e.g Mueller and Ortiz) who Billy Beane coveted. With many teams already on that bandwagon, that market is now no longer efficient. Emaus is the one winter acquisition with the Moneyball 1.0 profile (high OBP). Sox management is smart enough not to publicize what they now covet but we can reasonably speculate about those trends. It seems like late 20's and early to mid 30's players who were once regulars but, while still in their primes slotted to be role players, can be productive as decent "comeback" players in Boston for their relatively good prices. Sweeney, Ross, Aviles and Shoppach fit this description. Since pitching is so unpredictable, relatively young pitchers (e.g. Bailey, Melancon and Morales) under team control for a few years are cost efficient too, particularly if you don't need to trade much more than utility players to acquire them that way. It will be win-win if Reddick and Lowrie emerge as every day regulars on their new second division teams. For the contending Sox, they still were unlikely to be more than important role players this coming year. If both become regulars, their new teams will get what they bargained for. I don't see how that blows up in their face. If anything, it lays the groundwork for executing other similar trades in the future that can benefit both teams. The Cardinals acquisition of Lance Berkman last winter seems to be the best case paradigm for this strategy of who Cherington goes after. We might need to wait for somebody to write Moneyball 2.0 about Cherington to confirm this theory but I doubt that, until then, they will reveal their trade secrets.
Edited by The Boomer, 27 January 2012 - 12:41 AM.