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Ben Cherington (and Theo Epstein): failure


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#1 86spike


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 06:58 PM

It's time to get a thread up for this topic since it's rearing it's head all over the board.

Ben, with a major set-up by Theo, have built the crappiest roster that $180M of John Henry's money can buy.

What does ownership do now?

#2 Stitch01


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:02 PM

Theo gets the majority of the blame IMO. Not a lot of money or assets available to spend this offseason. Decision where to go from here should depend on the owners evaluation of Cheringtons ability to draft/find international talent and build a contender.

Edited by Stitch01, 21 April 2012 - 07:02 PM.


#3 Yazdog8

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:12 PM

Well, hope that the team gets healthy and then you need to decide if you can actually contend with 2 wild cards. If not, sell off assets and cut payroll. Hope that Middlebrooks and Lavarnway pan out. And then you hopefully tee it up for 2013. I really hate to write any season off, but this team is just beyond horrible, with so much dead weight contracts, there isn't much you can do. This is all on Theo. It's his mess. Unfortunately his talk of owning it was just smoke and mirrors to cover his exit to Chicago.

#4 Laser Show

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:12 PM

Way way way too early to pass judgement on Cherington, especially with the flexibility he's had this year.

In regards to Theo, all I can think of is this quote from him: "Fiscal irresponsibility is the single quickest way to hamstring a franchise for decades."

EDIT:typo

Edited by Laser Show, 21 April 2012 - 07:17 PM.


#5 86spike


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:15 PM

Way way way too early too pass judgement on Cherington, especially with the flexibility he's had this year.


That said, Ben was deeply involved with constructing this roster under Theo. you can't just start the clock with last fall for Ben.

#6 Laser Show

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:16 PM

That said, Ben was deeply involved with constructing this roster under Theo. you can't just start the clock with last fall for Ben.


Good point.

#7 Rasputin


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:18 PM

What does ownership do now?


Nothing drastic.

Try to find bullpen help while waiting out the injuries and hope there's enough left to make a wild card run.

Remember that the goal is long term results rather than short term results. Which means you let the Bard as starter thing play out. If he goes back to the pen it should be because the starter thing isn't working and not because the bullpen is in disarray.

#8 scotian1

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:20 PM

Ben has to accept some blame here, he doesn;t get a free pass. Toronto built a bullpen this offseason that has been much more effective than the Sox. Players were available better than Melancon in the free agent pool and if he had of gotten a couple of FAs we might have still had a stronger bench, at least Lowrie might still be around. We have no offense coming off the bench, he has to own that as well.

#9 reggiecleveland


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:25 PM

For all the money spent on dice rolls they could have maybe got one good relief pitcher.

#10 941827

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:27 PM

Theo gets the majority of the blame IMO. Not a lot of money or assets available to spend this offseason. Decision where to go from here should depend on the owners evaluation of Cheringtons ability to draft/find international talent and build a contender.


Ben Cherington agreed to let his best reliever become a starter, then traded all of his tradeable assets this off-season for Ryan Sweeney and three relievers. Two of those relievers have contributed nothing to the team and the other one, an oft-injured reliever, got injured. There are things for which to blame Theo, but the major issue on this team is the bullpen, and Ben is responsible for the disaster it's become.

#11 Van Everyman


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:37 PM

This just in:

It's April 21st.

#12 kartvelo

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:51 PM

This just in:

It's April 21st.

Yeah, I heard that last April 21st, too. And it's still true that wins and losses count exactly the same in April as they do in August.

#13 Van Everyman


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:06 PM

Yeah, I heard that last April 21st, too. And it's still true that wins and losses count exactly the same in April as they do in August.

And yet they were still the best team in baseball for 80% of the season and on pace for 100+ wins. My point is that you can't call Ben a failure even if the team he's assembled has lost every single game when they've played for less than 3 weeks.

#14 rembrat


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:07 PM

I'm not buying the premise of this thread. During the offseason everyone pretty much agreed that the Sox would be good again because they were bringing back relatively the same team minus a few blackholes in Lackey and Wake. And they would actually improve because they replace theblackholes with, at worst, league average guys.

You don't get to trash Theo and Ben because of another poor start. It's silly.

#15 mr_smith02

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:14 PM

Yeah, I heard that last April 21st, too. And it's still true that wins and losses count exactly the same in April as they do in August.


Last April I remember telling countless people that the Sox had a ton of talent and just needed to figure out their roles. This year, injuries and sub par pick ups/replacements have left me seriously concerned that this team can finish above fourth place as currently constructed.

#16 kartvelo

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:27 PM

And yet they were still the best team in baseball for 80% of the season and on pace for 100+ wins. My point is that you can't call Ben a failure even if the team he's assembled has lost every single game when they've played for less than 3 weeks.

And over the larger sample size of 162 games, they won 90 games.
So far this year they're 0.5 games ahead of their September 2011 pace.

#17 Rasputin


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:27 PM

I'm not buying the premise of this thread. During the offseason everyone pretty much agreed that the Sox would be good again because they were bringing back relatively the same team minus a few blackholes in Lackey and Wake. And they would actually improve because they replace theblackholes with, at worst, league average guys.


The agreement of that was far from universal.

You don't get to trash Theo and Ben because of another poor start. It's silly.


Everyone's got a right to bitch, even stupid reactionary nitwits.

That said, I think this start is different than last year. Last year things started poorly mostly because good players were performing poorly and while there is plenty of that to go around, there's a lot more injuries now. We've got two outfielders and the closer on the DL.

Mostly what we need is for the starters who can go deep to start going deep and, in general, pitch better. Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz all have an ERA over five and the number of people who think we can make the postseason with performances like that is precisely zero. The most disconcerting of these to me is Buchholz who is, as the other thread has discussed, pitching differently. If it's hangover from the extra long layoff it should improve. If it isn't, then something is wrong.

#18 TheGoldenGreek33

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:27 PM

There's nothing they can do. Like Stitch said, there weren't enough resources available to really do anything in the off-season. They traded a fourth outfielder and a far-away prospect for an all-star/rookie of the year closer and a utility infielder for yet another above-average reliever that's under control for the next few years. One goes down for 3-4 months with a fluke injury and the other can't figure out what league and team he's pitching for. This team just wasn't prepared for this kind of transition. They've traded away their top prospects for major league talent, overcompensated and neglected to account for impending free agency. The injuries have been other-wordly, but this a complete result of how much Theo let go of this team after 2007. He got lazy with free agent signings and strayed from the "$100-million player development machine". He turned into Walt Jocketty right before our very own eyes and the Sox core are in the middle of their primes and aren't getting younger. At the risk of sounding like an EEI caller, it's panic time. I played it cool when the Sox started 2-10 and were in the middle of the greatest collapse in baseball history. But it's that time.

#19 Rasputin


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:29 PM

Last April I remember telling countless people that the Sox had a ton of talent and just needed to figure out their roles. This year, injuries and sub par pick ups/replacements have left me seriously concerned that this team can finish above fourth place as currently constructed.


The likelihood of the Sox finishing the year as currently constructed is zero.


And over the larger sample size of 162 games, they won 90 games.


Yeah, and there are no extenuating circumstances there whatsoever.

#20 Seels

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:34 PM

I'm not buying the premise of this thread. During the offseason everyone pretty much agreed that the Sox would be good again because they were bringing back relatively the same team minus a few blackholes in Lackey and Wake. And they would actually improve because they replace theblackholes with, at worst, league average guys.

You don't get to trash Theo and Ben because of another poor start. It's silly.


Yea I don't buy this. People knew the bullpen was shitty. A bullpen that loses its best two arms and instead has to rely on the mediocrity left over from the year before and a guy who can't throw more than 50 IP a year is going to suffer.

Not enough was done with the pen, and this isn't a hindsight thing.

#21 rembrat


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:39 PM

Yea I don't buy this. People knew the bullpen was shitty. A bullpen that loses its best two arms and instead has to rely on the mediocrity left over from the year before and a guy who can't throw more than 50 IP a year is going to suffer.

Not enough was done with the pen, and this isn't a hindsight thing.


There are like maybe 5 major league bullpens that could survive a loss to its closer and setup man. If Rivera and Robertson go down the Yankees are scrambling. If Valverde and Dotel go down they're fucked. It's no mystery why this pen sucks. Bailey is injured and Melancon is in AAA figuring things out. But a bullpen of Bailey-Melancon-Aceves-Padilla-Morales should be good. The problem is the Sox didn't break camp with that group of guys.

#22 Foulkey Reese


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:48 PM

Ben to address the media in a few minutes per Twitter.

#23 BelgianSoxFan

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:48 PM

You don't get to trash Theo and Ben because of another poor start. It's silly.


But every single move Valentine makes is fair game...

This off-season was not the worst ever, last year's was. All the trouble was caused by letting the FO spend like drunk sailors. It probably would have been wise to clean all the stink out of the FO and start from scratch.

#24 Seels

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:52 PM

Why should that bullpen be good?

Bailey has been injured every year of his career.
Melancon has one full season of success in the bigs and it was in a pitchers park in the worst division in baseball.
Aceves peripheral problems and inability to miss bats are well documented.
Padilla is an okay long relief guy, garbage in any other possible role. He's been garbage for a long time. He sucked in the NL West, why should anyone expect him to not suck here?
Morales, the guy with a career whip of 1.48 and bb/9 of 5? Yea, perfect.

Even if the lineup was healthy and produced to expectations, even if Beckett and Buchholz weren't pitching like shit, this BP was still a major major area of conern. The last time it wasn't is probably the 2009 offseason. It has sucked for a while, and simple things like signing a guy like Octavio Dotel, even if you have to spend a bit more money, is far better than hoping than crap that has always been crap like Vincente Padilla somehow smoke and mirrors itself into working.

It amazes me that a team with this payroll has had to rely so much on guys like Vincente Padilla and Jason Repko.

#25 Doc Zero


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:54 PM

Ben to address the media in a few minutes per Twitter.


Thanks for the heads up, will this be streaming?

EDIT: Disregard, thought this may have been a PC. Wishful thinking.

Edited by Doc Zero, 21 April 2012 - 09:01 PM.


#26 tonyarmasjr

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:00 PM

Thanks for the heads up, will this be streaming?

Yeah, anybody with a link?

#27 lexrageorge

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:24 PM

I think blaming Cherington for bringing in Bailey is ridiculous. He did exactly what any good GM should do: pick up an available and proven closer at a reasonable price. I'm tired of hearing about his injury history; nothing in his so-called (and wildly exaggerated) injury history could have predicted that he would tear a ligament in his thumb as a result of a freak collision. Just like nothing could have predicated that Ellsbury would have dislocated his shoulder after a guy fell on him. These are freaky events, much like Jason Varitek breaking his elbow on a concrete ridge around the on-deck circle in 2006 2001; these are far from predictable events. IMO, Cherington gets a pass on Bailey.

Cherington gets less of a pass on the remainder of the bullpen, although the season is still a work in progress, and there's still a chance of fixing it (hopefully). If he can fix it, then we can forgive him; if not, well, then he should get loudly boo'ed at the next Fenway celebration.

EDIT: Fixed confusion over Varitek injuries.

Edited by lexrageorge, 21 April 2012 - 10:14 PM.


#28 Seels

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:34 PM

Picking up Bailey is fine.

Picking him up and expecting him to pitch his 40-50 innings of pretty good caliber is fine.

Picking him up and expecting him to replace Papelbon, or mask other clear deficiencies on a team, is not fine. Bailey at his best would have been able to account for maybe 75% of Papelbon's workload. Where's the rest come from? Where's the additional 70+ innings of Bard come from?

The BP was mediocre last year, and was significantly downgraded at its two best spots. This was absolutely a concern that should have been addressed more.

#29 jsinger121


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:35 PM

Varitek broke his elbow on the on deck circle in 2001 not 2006.

#30 Buzzkill Pauley

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:37 PM

Varitek broke his elbow on the on deck circle in 2001 not 2006.


Thank you -- I thought I was losing my mind. Kept having Hatteberg flashbacks instead of Javy Lopez.

#31 Titoschew

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:41 PM

Varitek broke his elbow on the on deck circle in 2001 not 2006.


But, he did tear up his knee like six hours after the trading deadline in 2006, thus ushering in the Jav Lopez era behind the dish. Lexrage's point stands.

#32 Philip Jeff Frye


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:46 PM

This just in:

It's April 21st.

Going back to last September 1, the Sox at 11-29. That's a .275 winning percentage over a quarter of a season.

#33 Rasputin


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:49 PM

Going back to last September 1, the Sox at 11-29. That's a .275 winning percentage over a quarter of a season.


Dude, seriously, September isn't relevant.

#34 Buzzkill Pauley

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:52 PM

Going back to last September 1, the Sox at 11-29. That's a .275 winning percentage over a quarter of a season.


Good thing it's actually over two entirely different seasons rather than only a quarter of one.

That makes it a .034 winning percentage.

#35 Seels

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:55 PM

Good thing it's actually over two entirely different seasons rather than only a quarter of one.

That makes it a .034 winning percentage.

Not really a good thing considering the ramifications are felt over two seasons.

Really the only significant differences between September and now is a worse bullpen and no Ellsbury. The team is the same, and performing the same.

#36 OttoC


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:59 PM

...
What does ownership do now?


Sell the team.

#37 86spike


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:02 PM

Sell the team.


I hear Frank McCourt has some spare cash laying around and loves Fenway Franks.

#38 Buzzkill Pauley

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:06 PM

Not really a good thing considering the ramifications are felt over two seasons.

Really the only significant differences between September and now is a worse bullpen and no Ellsbury. The team is the same, and performing the same.


Yet in an entirely different season, with another 148 games to play.

#39 Philip Jeff Frye


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:10 PM

Dude, seriously, September isn't relevant.

Why not? They suffered through horrific collapse and now are now picking up where they left off. Coincidence? And given the trauma of the former, the additional trauma of the latter cannot be dismissed, can it? Last season, they knew they were good even during the terrible start. Can they really have that confidence now?

#40 Section15Box113

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:11 PM

2011 through 14 games: 4-10.
2012 through 14 games: 4-10.

2011 on 8/31: 83-52, on pace for 100 wins.

Only point? While it's insanely frustrating - especially after the pen's performance today - it's very early and there's plenty of time for things to turn around.

Also, after 14 games last year, we were 5.0 GB in the division and 5.5 out in the wildcard. As of tonight, we're 4.5 GB in the division. A lot of ground after 14 games, but - repeat after me - it's early.

#41 Buzzkill Pauley

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:13 PM

Why not? They suffered through horrific collapse and now are now picking up where they left off. Coincidence? And given the trauma of the former, the additional trauma of the latter cannot be dismissed, can it? Last season, they knew they were good even during the terrible start. Can they really have that confidence now?


Why not? Because it's an entirely different season, the end of which is still unknown?

Recalling past traumas as a reason things can't end differently this time around is so pre-2004.

#42 reggiecleveland


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:16 PM

I just want a past due date from you. How far back do they have to be at a certain point, where it becomes permissible to worry? 12 games back June1? 19 games back July 1st?

#43 glennhoffmania


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:17 PM

2011 through 14 games: 4-10.
2012 through 14 games: 4-10.

2011 on 8/31: 83-52, on pace for 100 wins.

Only point? While it's insanely frustrating - especially after the pen's performance today - it's very early and there's plenty of time for things to turn around.

Also, after 14 games last year, we were 5.0 GB in the division and 5.5 out in the wildcard. As of tonight, we're 4.5 GB in the division. A lot of ground after 14 games, but - repeat after me - it's early.


After the slow start last year, the team went on to play at an almost unheard of pace for about 4 months. Do you think this team has the same talent level and management to go on a similar run?

#44 Buzzkill Pauley

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:20 PM

I just want a past due date from you. How far back do they have to be at a certain point, where it becomes permissible to worry? 12 games back June1? 19 games back July 1st?


I think it's 100% permissible to worry now.

Not because of what happened in last season, though -- the 2011 season is over and done.

But rather because of what's been happening since April 5.

#45 Toe Nash

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

Not really a good thing considering the ramifications are felt over two seasons.

Really the only significant differences between September and now is a worse bullpen and no Ellsbury. The team is the same, and performing the same.

Also:
Bard, Buchholz and Doubront as starters instead of Wakefield, Lackey, Andrew Miller
Youkilis at third instead of Aviles
Aviles / Punto at short instead of Scutaro
Ross / Sweeney in right instead of Reddick / Corpse of Drew
Ross / Sweeney in left instead of Crawford
Shoppach instead of Tek
New manager, pitching coach, medical staff, other coaches

It's a vastly different team from the one that took the field in September. They shouldn't be compared unless you think Beckett / Lucchino / whoever makes everyone play poorly.

#46 dynomite

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 11:03 PM

2011 through 14 games: 4-10.
2012 through 14 games: 4-10.


Exactly.

At the moment, the Red Sox are on pace for a 65-97 season. As bad as they've looked, I don't believe that this is worst team in the American League. In some ways, the most encouraging news of the young season is that the team isn't afraid to make moves to find someone better. Melancon struggling? Off to AAA. Repko hurt? Trade for Byrd.

Yes, there are a lot of albatross contracts on this team. And yes, last September died, last September was buried, and last September returneth into dust, and yet we continue to sit here and stare at its skull.

But if the Sox can tread water until the All-Star Break and stay in striking distance of the 2nd Wild Card spot (a virtual certainty mathematically), we'll head into the 2nd half with a (hopefully) healthy Bailey, Hill, Crawford, Ellsbury, and DiceK, with Middlebrooks, Lavarnway and Kalish available as well.

Here's to treading water, then.

#47 Rasputin


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Posted 21 April 2012 - 11:11 PM

Why not?


Because the reasons for the suck are different. The people who were hurt in September have either gotten healthy or been replaced.

They suffered through horrific collapse and now are now picking up where they left off. Coincidence?


Injuries to Lackey and DiceK aside, yes.

And given the trauma of the former, the additional trauma of the latter cannot be dismissed, can it?


Yes, easily.

Last season, they knew they were good even during the terrible start. Can they really have that confidence now?


Yes.

This is largely the same team that started last year. Some things are a lot better and some things are worse. The things that are worse are, primarily, the bullpen. It's a lot easier to replace bullpen arms than starter arms.

Get a few more innings from the starters, get Rich Hill healthy and Tazawa moved up in Valentine's confidence and we'll be able to use Padilla, Morales, Albers and Atchison in their best platoon situations.

#48 reggiecleveland


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Posted 22 April 2012 - 12:35 AM

Yes.

This is largely the same team that started last year. Some things are a lot better and some things are worse. The things that are worse are, primarily, the bullpen. It's a lot easier to replace bullpen arms than starter arms.

Get a few more innings from the starters, get Rich Hill healthy and Tazawa moved up in Valentine's confidence and we'll be able to use Padilla, Morales, Albers and Atchison in their best platoon situations.




Also:
Bard, Buchholz and Doubront as starters instead of Wakefield, Lackey, Andrew Miller
Youkilis at third instead of Aviles
Aviles / Punto at short instead of Scutaro
Ross / Sweeney in right instead of Reddick / Corpse of Drew
Ross / Sweeney in left instead of Crawford
Shoppach instead of Tek
New manager, pitching coach, medical staff, other coaches


Which of these is true?

#49 MikeM

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 03:32 AM

That said, Ben was deeply involved with constructing this roster under Theo. you can't just start the clock with last fall for Ben.


I started off this off-season really wanting to give Ben that clean slate of benefit-of-the-doubt, but nowadays my thoughts there can't help but continually go back to the whole "i pushed hard for Carl Crawford" proclamation he made following last season, and a growing concern that he was actually telling the truth (instead of stating it simply because it was the right thing to do). Well that, and the now burned-in-my-head image of Ernie talking on the phone.

Personally, i'm thinking from here Ben ends up making what some will argue as being a panicky trade. Nothing of epic proportions, but Lavarnway + random B prospect for whatever marginal/dicey upgrade veteran on a 1 year flyer he can find sounds about right.

#50 Eric Van


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Posted 22 April 2012 - 04:37 AM

The idea that Cherington (and Theo) constructed a crap roster that is dooming the team .. it's just obvious nonsense.

What has actually happened is that Cherington made a whole bunch of very solid off-season moves and one terrible one (one that I immediately labelled the worst Red Sox trade in many years). And that terrible move has worked out to be a worst-case scenario.

For all the criticism of Padilla and Morales, they both have positive WPAs and decent-to-good peripherals (Padilla 4.86 FIP but 2.51 SIERA, Morales 4.29 SIERA but 3.30 FIP). They would be just fine as the 4th and 5th guys in the pen, like they were supposed to be.

Letting Papelbon go and trading Reddick for Sweeney and Bailey was the right thing to do. Bailey's thumb injury is not something you could foresee, although you always want to know who will take over if your closer gets hurt, and this is especially true if you're trading for a guy with Bailey's injury history.

Converting Bard to the rotation was absolutely the right thing to do.

Now, given both of the above, using the organizational depth to overpay dramatically for an elite set-up guy was also the right thing to do. Trading Lowrie and Weiland for a guy who projected to be an elite 8th-inning guy or a decent closer: excellent idea, even though on paper you lose the trade.

The guy the thought fit that description was Mark Melancon, who their scouts liked but who had sabermetric red flags twice the size of the Citgo sign. Pitching in the weakest division in MLB, feasting on the bottom of the order while getting killed by good hitters, getting below-average results on his fastball -- these were all reasons to be very skeptical that he could fill the role he was acquired to fill.

So, what happened? Bailey gets hurt, and Melancon, as feared, is terrible, so Aceves ends up as the closer and is terrible. Between them, they are -2.28 WPA. If Melancon had pitched the way they thought he would, and Aceves had been solid in his 2011 role, they'd be 7-7 (figuring that they'd have a combined +0.70 or so) against largely elite competition, and this thread wouldn't exist.

What concerns me is this: was there no one who looked at Melancon's numbers and had the concerns I did? Or was Cherington given an opinion similar to mine, and did he ignore it, i.e., did he embrace the scouting love and reject the sabermetric skepticism? Either scenario is troubling for the long term.




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