Whatever Happened To “Red Sox Baseball”

Saltalamacchia is a great clubhouse guy but just doesn’t seem to be a great organizational fit

I’ve been watching the Red Sox struggle through the 2012 season and i can’t help but wonder what happened to the “Red Sox Baseball” that GM Theo Esptein implemented in the early part of the last decade that helped the Red Sox win two World Championships.  No, I’m not talking about that silly cosmetic stuff that anonymous sources report about what’s going on off the field.  I’m talking about what they do on the field, more specifically at the plate.  The Red Sox don’t take pitches anymore.  They don’t talk walks anymore.  They don’t make pitchers work hard anymore.  They often have poor at-bats, mostly from the bottom of the order.  Why did the Red Sox stop bringing in players with high OBP rates?

John Henry bought the Red Sox with an obsession with Oakland GM Billy Beane’s “moneyball” philosophy.  When he couldn’t secure Beane’s services he turned to another young moneyball disciple in Theo Esptein.  The Red Sox built the 2004 roster on players that walked.  Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, and Mark Bellhorn were all acquired before the 2003 or 2004 seasons and they all had one thing in common – they got on base.  The Red Sox built their 2007 roster by drafting players like Dustin Pedroia and supplementing the roster with guys like Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew who all got on base.  Now they have a bottom of the lineup that consistently have 3 or 4 pitch at-bats and leaves the pitcher fresh for the top of the order the 2nd and 3rd times around.  Guys like Mike Aviles and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are the opposite of the prototype moneyball type hitters.  Here’s a look at the OBPs for the starting lineups in the World Series winning years of 2004 and 2007.

Damon was the prototypical moneyball lead-off hitter

2004:

C Jason Varitek .390, 1B Kevin Millar .383, 2b Mark Bellhorn .373, SS Orlando Cabrera .320, 3B Bill Mueller .365, LF Manny Ramirez .397, CF Johnny Damon .380, RF Trot Nixon .377, DH David Ortiz .380

2007:

C Jason Varitek .367, 1B Kevin Youkilis .390, 2B Dustin Pedroia .380, SS Julio Lugo, .294, 3B Mike Lowell .378, LF Manny Ramirez .388, CF Coco Crisp, .330, RF J.D. Drew .373, DH David Ortiz .445

Now let’s take a look at the OBP numbers for the starting lineup so far this season:

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia .282, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, .352, 2B Dustin Pedroia, .336, SS Mike Aviles .285, 3B Will Middlebrooks .325, LF Carl Crawford .308, CF Jacoby Ellsbury .309, RF Cody Ross .337, DH David Ortiz .414

The differences are astounding.  In 2004 and 2007 only 1 player in the Sox starting lineup, Julio Lugo, had an OBP under .300 and he was at .294.  This year they have 2, Saltalamacchia and Aviles, and both are .285 or under.  Lugo, Orlando Cabrera, and Coco Crisp were the only 3 guys in those two seasons to have a OBP of .330 or lower.  Only 4 guys in the Red Sox starting lineup this season – their 3 best hitters, Gonzalez, Pedroia, Ross and Ortiz – are over the .330 mark.  Jacoby Ellsbury’s .309 OBP is a horrible number for a lead-off hitter and pales in comparison to the .380 OBP of 2004 lead-off man Johnny Damon.  Bill Mueller’s .365 OBP was 2nd lowest in the Red Sox starting lineup in 2004.  He’d have the second highest in this year’s lineup.

It’s clear what the Red Sox need to do.  They need to re-acquire players who takes pitches and get on base.  They need to rebuild the roster with the 2004 version as a guideline.  When Theo Epstein took over in 2002 he envisioned a 100 million dollar player development machine.  Now it’s just a 100 million dollar mess.  For the Red Sox to get back into the post-season they need to simply get back to Red Sox baseball.  Judging by the numbers above it doesn’t seem like a guy like Mike Aviles, Jarrod Saltalamacchia or even Jacoby Ellsbury would fit into that plan.  They need to get rid of the guys who don’t get on base and replace him with guys who do.

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At What Point Is Larry Lucchino’s Job With The Red Sox In Jeopardy

The Red Sox have been an unmitigated mess since last September 1st.  They have changed managers.  They have changed general managers.  They have turned over the roster some.  The one constant throughout all of the mess has been Red Sox ownership – John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino.  Henry, of course, is the point and money person.  Werner is the marketing and TV guy and since they are still making money hand over fist from ad revenue and ticket sales I’d say he’s not the problem.  That leaves the baseball guy – Larry Lucchino.

At What Point Is Larry Lucchino’s Job With The Red Sox In Jeopardy

Make no mistake, Larry Lucchino bought the Red Sox woes over the offseason when he placed organization mainstay Ben Cherington into Theo Epstein’s old role and then himself not only hired the manager he wanted, Bobby Valentine, but also added to the coaching staff as he saw fit by saddling Valentine with his own pitching coach hire, Bob McClure.  Lucchino bought this mess back in the off-season and now he must be held responsible for what has taken place since.

This isn’t the first time that Lucchino has pulled a power play.  He lost the first time around back in 2005 when Theo Epstein challenged Lucchino’s power by walking away from the organization for several months following the season (and his contract expiration).  Red Sox owner John Henry valued Epstein too much to lose him in a power struggle to Lucchino and brokered a deal to return Epstein to an organization that saw Lucchino’s power diminished.  Epstein went on to win another World Series as GM but the wheels came off the Epstein regime in 2011 and he jumped ship to the Cubs as a result.  This put Lucchino back into his familiar position of power and he exerted every ounce of it that he could.  As new GM Cherington was conducting an on-the-level search for a new manager Lucchino did everything he could to get his guy, Bobby Valentine, the job.

Henry trusts Lucchino put he needs to pull back his power now like he did in 2005

I don’t even blame John Henry for letting Lucchino take the reigns for this year.  The guy, like him or not, is  a proven baseball executive and has been one of Henry’s closest confidantes in baseball for over a decade.  But Lucchino should be subject to the same performance evaluations as anyone else and let’s call his performance exactly what it is – not very good.  Lucchino tried to put on his Theo Epstein hat and do his thing and he failed.  Lucchino, while a great executive and overseer, is simply not a day-to-day baseball guy.  As much as he wanted to be able to say that he could,  at the end of the day Lucchino is simply not a Theo Epstein.  Or a Pat Gillick.  Or a Billy Beane.  He’s not an exceptional baseball operations guy.  He’s just a good businessman who knows the business of baseball.

Now I’m not naive enough to think that Henry will simply dismiss Lucchino but it seems like the time is coming for an organizational overhaul.  That would mean a new front office and coaching staff.  If Henry was smart he’d find another guy out there who he could entrust the entire baseball operations to, like he did Epstein, and tell Lucchino that he needs to back off and let that person do his thing.  That means picking his own manager and letting that manager pick his own staff.  If Henry goes about things the wrong way then come next season Lucchino will still have all the power, Cherington will continue to be a paper GM and Valentine will still be the manager with a lame duck coaching staff.  Its clear that the changes that need to be made at this point are at the top.  It just depends on whether or not John Henry has the guts to implement them.

I don’t advocate making a move now as it will amount to once again putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.  If the Red Sox fail to make the playoffs for the third straight year then it is clear that the Red Sox need to change the focus of the organization.  Bring a new set of eyes in and let them build around Pedroia, Gonzalez, Crawford, Buchholz and the prospects that they do have.

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Saltalamacchia Catching On With Red Sox

It’s not an easy thing to replace a captain of 7 years on a professional sports team.  A guy like Jason Varitek, a rock for the organization and team leader from 1997-2011, is hard to replicate.  In particular in this era in major league baseball versatile catchers who contain top notch leadership skills are hard to come by.  It almost mirrors the old adage in the NFL that franchise quarterbacks are nearly impossible to find and you should savior them while you have one.  Varitek’s career started to dwindle a few seasons ago and the Sox even brought in a big name, former Indians catcher Victor Martinez, to split time with him.  When Martinez was allowed to walk in free agency a year and a half after he was acquired it was back to the drawing board for the Red Sox.

Saltalamacchia is becoming the player the Sox hoped for when they traded for him

Enter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty was acquired at the trade deadline during the 2010 season for spare parts and was placed in Pawtucket for the remainder of the year.  Salty was a big prospect coming up with Atlanta but hit a wall in Texas after he was acquired in a trade that sent Mark Teixeira packing.  Saltalamacchia was stuck in the minors and couldn’t even throw the ball to second base accurately when the Sox picked him up.  At the end of the year when Martinez walked to Detroit the Red Sox gave Saltalamacchia the keys to the car to at least share with Varitek for a year.  Many thought that a year playing with Jason Varitek would be vital.  Although he wasn’t the same player physically that he once was he had not lost anything mentally and could be a wealth of knowledge for a young guy playing under him.  It seems that those thoughts are coming to fruition.

Salty had a decent enough line last season splitting with Varitek.  He tailed off at the end of the season but his .235/.288/.450 line wasn’t horrible for a part time catcher.  He added a career high 16 home runs and 56 RBI.  He had a 31% caught stealing rate which was excellent considering how poorly the Red Sox pitchers held runners on.  People worried that when Varitek retired Salty would have trouble progressing without him but Salty is proving early in the season that one season may have been enough with Varitek.  Saltalamacchia looks like a much more confident player out there on the field this year.  He seems to have taken on Varitek’s role of team leader particularly with the young pitchers that he works with.

Salty had a Varitek moment when he stood up to Luke Scott

His offense has improved so far this year.  His .274/.311/.573 line with 9 home runs and 22 RBI make him a prime candidate for the American League All-Star team.  Only J.P. Arencibia of the Blue Jays has as many home runs as Saltalamacchia out of all American League catchers (not counting Mike Napoli who plays 3 different positions).  Of catchers in the American League with at least 100 plate appearances only A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Mauer have a higher batting average.  The improved play is contributed by his heightened confidence.  He may well break down again before the end of the season but he should be more used to the long season after finally going through it for the first time in two seasons last year.

Saltalamacchia showed everyone how much of a leader he had become in a 10 day stretch that started a few weeks ago in Tampa.  He was hit in the ear with a foul ball and suffered a gash that required 12 stitches.  Salty convinced manager Bobby Valentine to start him the next day in Philly and proceeded to hit a home run in the game.  He hit another one that weekend in Philly that was the 3rd longest home run of the season.  The following weekend when Tampa Bay came to Boston a brawl nearly broke out in the 9th inning when Sox pitcher Franklin Morales hit Rays slugger/big mouth Luke Scott in the leg.  When Scott started walking towards the mound Salty rudely cut him off with a bump of his chest guard.  The next night Salty came in the to 9th inning as a pinch hitter with the Sox down a run and promptly hit a game-winning walk-off home run against Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney who had not blown a save all year long.  It was reminiscent of Jason Varitek’s stand up to Alex Rodriguez and the subsequent game winning home run by Bill Mueller except this time Salty handled it all himself.

It’s rather amusing that for years Theo Epstein seemed to be trying to find a catcher to replace Jason Varitek.  He finally did in a throwaway trade at the deadline in ’10.  He took a shot in the dark with Saltalamacchia and Salty is looking to pay back the favor by becoming the player that the Red Sox didn’t seem to have.  In a few years Saltalamacchia will likely be joined by prospect Ryan Lavarnway to create a formidable catching duo.  Salty will have to quickly turn around the knowledge bestowed on him by Varitek to teach Lavarnway how to become a player and a leader.  If the start of this year is any indication then Salty should have his Varitek impression down pat by then.

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Playing the Red Sox blame game

The “Red Sox blame game” has become en vogue in these parts thanks to another slow start by the Red Sox.  Of course things are a bit more hostile this year when they were last year due to the stink of the September collapse and subsequent jettisoning of Terry Francona and bailing out of Theo Epstein.  Basically to play the blame game you make a pie chart and assign a percentage of blame to who you think it most responsible for the current state of the Red Sox.  Here’s my version of the blame pie:

Former Sox GM Theo Epstein ran off to the Cubs in the off-season

35% former GM Theo Epstein – Theo was the architect of 2 World Series teams in Boston but he also lead the roster into a state of disarray in recent years.  He signed John Lackey to a huge contract when they didn’t really need to add another big money pitcher back before the 2010 season.  In anticipation of losing closer Jonathan Papelbon he signed reliever Bobby Jenks to a 2-year, $12 million contract and he doesn’t look like he’ll put on a Sox uniform ever again.  As much as I think Crawford can still be an asset I can certainly see questioning the wisdom of signing a guy when you have to sign a younger guy with a similar skill set (Jacoby Ellsbury) very shortly.  It’s like they set a high market for one of their own young players which seems kind of crazy when you think about it that way.  Then there is the myriad of prospects that have been traded away in the past few seasons that have depleted the farm system.  He gave up Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone for a season and a half of Victor Martinez.  He gave up Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo to get Adrian Gonzalez after the bungled Mark Teixera negotiations.  He gave up a potentially very valuable outfield piece in David Murphy to acquire Eric Gagne who was a disaster for half of a season in Boston.  Theo’s record on trades in past years has been bad and his free agent signings have not been much better.  He bloated the payroll to the point where over $67 million in players are currently assigned the Red Sox’ disabled list.  To make matters worse he cut and run after the debacle of last season in what seemed to be a maneuver that he had started to plan as far back as the beginning of last season.  Let’s not forget that he won a power play over Larry Lucchino in 2005 and every indication is that he had the final voice on any player moves.  Simply put he left the Red Sox organization holding the bag.

Cherington walked into a tough situation but he was Theo's right hand man previously

25% current GM Ben Cherington – I almost feel bad here because Cherington did a great job finding cheap players with the payroll constraint that he had to deal with this off-season.  Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Kelly Shoppach have all produced in the early going.  Ben loses me in two places.  First is that he was Theo’s right hand man for the past several seasons.  You would think if he knew that he was the heir apparent to Theo, who had seemingly been planning his exit for some time, that he would try to jump in and dissuade Theo from signing some of these dumb contracts or making some of these poor trades.  He’s got to be held at least a little bit accountable for the previous regime.  The other thing that counts against Ben is his handling of the bullpen in the off-season.  This was the major need in the winter.  Letting Papelbon walk I can see.  Trading for Andrew Bailey was a pretty good move as well but although Bailey’s spring injury was a fluke he has had injury issues in the past.  That tells me that you should really go out and fine a good, proven setup guy and maybe more than one.  Instead Cherington went out and got Mark Melancon, who closed for the Astros in the NL Central.  Although he didn’t give up much to get him it was a curious move particularly since there wasn’t another move to bring someone else in to work with such an unproven guy.  Obviously with neither Bailey nor Melancon able to pitch at this point the bullpen is an utter disaster.  I have to think better decisions could have been made.

Guys like Aceves are not doing the job they were asked to do

20% The Players – This one is another tough one because you are lumping the whole team together.  Unlike last year, when the whole team seemed to be underachieving, this slow start seems to be a product of underachievement on the pitching side of things.  Josh Beckett gets a lot of money and shouldn’t be giving up 6 home runs in a game like he did in Detroit.  Jon Lester needs to pitch better than he has the last two times out.  Clay Buchholz has been a disaster so far and he’s making too much money to pitch so poorly.  The bullpen, well, all of these guys are major league players so they should start pitching like them.  I know the Yankees, Rangers, and Tigers are good lineups but it is pretty embarrassing when you literally can’t get anyone out.  Daniel Bard is more worried about his future paychecks than where he can help the team best.  If I did this last year I would have placed more blame on the players, as a matter of fact they probably would have gotten the majority, but it’s tough to do that this year with Papi hitting well over .400 and Aviles filling in admirably at the lead off spot and things like that.

These guys might be annoying but they are not the main reason we are 6-10

15% The Owners – This is where I break from most people.  Theo left on his own volition so you can’t really blame them for that.  Yeah, there was the Tito thing and the fact that he was replaced by Bobby Valentine but notice that Bobby V. hasn’t been named on the blame pie chart yet.  The ownership group doesn’t really deserve as much of the blame as they get for what happens on the field.  The Red Sox have a higher payroll than all but 1 of the 30 MLB teams, which is of course the Yankees.  All I hear is people complaining about them selling bricks.  Who cares about that?  It’s their job to make money and selling bricks creates revenue?  What’s the issue.  This is the problem that people don’t understand – there aren’t 3 guys who do the same job.  Lucchino is the baseball guy, he doesn’t have anything to do with selling bricks.  That would be Tom Werner who is the marketing guy.  It’s hard to argue that Tom Werner is not very good at his job.  He doesn’t have anything to do with the baseball decisions so blaming him for players not performing on the field seems ludicrous.  Then there is John Henry who is the facilitator and I’ve already mentioned that the Sox have the second highest payroll in the league.  They parred their payroll in the off-season, much like the Yankees also did to little fanfare, more because they were sick of paying increasing revenue sharing taxes to low revenue teams who in turn pocketed the money rather than because they didn’t have the money.  Are the Red Sox owners arrogant, over-bearing, and generally unlikable?  Sure they are but that doesn’t make it their fault that $190 million worth of players are not performing on the field.

Bobby V. must cringe every time he has to do this

3% current manager Bobby Valentine – Despite the boos you hear at Fenway Bobby V. has done a pretty good job in my opinion.  He made a few errors but most of his gambles have paid off.  You can’t really blame him for making too many pitching change mistakes since most of the guys he calls upon can’t get anyone out anyway.  He got a spark when the offense struggled the first two games and he placed Nick Punto in the lead off role.  Replacing Aviles for the injured Ellsbury at the top of the lineup seemed to be a great move.  Moving Ryan Sweeney into the #2 slot seems like a move that is paying off as well.  The only two flaws to Valentine’s year so far are the Youk comments, which he may have been right about anyway, and the Bard situation but as Bard’s comments have shown he hasn’t been too cooperative in the process.

2% Former Manager Terry Francona – He goes on here for now.  If at the end of the season things haven’t turned around then you can take him off and put his current percentage of blame (and probably more) on Valentine.  The reason I put him here is that you can make the argument that some players, particularly pitchers, are struggling with a more hard-nosed approach to the game after being subject to Camp Francona for all those years.  It’s a little thing and something that should fade over time but that’s why he only gets 2%.

There it is, my blame pie.  I’d make a chart but I don’t think it’s that necessary.  Agree?  Disagree?  Feel free to let me know.

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The final word on Theo Epstein’s departure from Boston

The title maybe should read “My final word on Theo Epstein’s departure from Boston” but nonetheless…

Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox were like a match made in heaven.  A decade ago Epstein was an up-and-coming baseball operations executive for the San Diego Padres.  When Team President Larry Lucchino joined the Red Sox in 2002 as their team president Epstein jumped at the opportunity to follow his former boss back home.  When A’s General Manager Billy Beane stood the Red Sox up at the alter (Beane had a verbal agreement to become GM of the Red Sox but pulled out at the last minute citing “family reasons”) Theo was ready to take up the mantle for the Red Sox organization and tackle a 86 year Championship drought.

Theo made Red Sox Nation quickly forget about the Beane drama.  As a matter of fact, I had totally forgotten about it myself until the Moneyball hype of the summer brought it back up.  I won’t bring up the resume as it’s been re-hashed over and over again.  Two World Championships, 6 playoff appearances, a division title along with Lackey, Lugo and Renteria.  And after the biggest embarrassment of his tenure, a show more out of the Duquette regime than the Theo one, he is walking away from his dream job.  Naturally many people are wondering why?

Now obviously many lazy mediots and fans will simply blame Lucchino and/or the Red Sox troika of beer-swilling pitchers but I think it’s really much more than that.  New Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts had Theo Epstein in his cross-hairs aas far back as August when Buster Olney reported it, and it was likely much longer than that.  You can see why the Cubs job could be attractive to someone like Theo.  Regardless of where he is from he will never be “the guy” with the Red Sox.  He has that opportunity in Chicago.  Even when he held the Red Sox hostage for more power after the 2005 season, he still knew he’d never be the guy here.  He can be that guy in Chicago.  He is the President, a position that Lucchino is entrenched in with the Red Sox.  He will pick a manager in Chicago that will be “his guy”, be it Ryne Sandberg or someone else.  As close as Tito and Theo grew during their time together, Francona was never truly considered “Theo’s guy.”

All that being said take a look at the landscape now.  Theo has risen up to a virtual king-maker.  He is the President of one of the most storied franchises in MLB history, after he had turned around one of the other most storied franchises in MLB history.  He will set up perhaps his favorite disciple, Jed Hoyer, for success as General Manager of the Cubs.  Over in San Diego his 1st lieutenant to graduate to GM, Josh Byrnes, will be given the keys to run the Padres along with his former team president in Arizona, Jeff Moorad.  And in Boston, rather than leaving the Red Sox to pick up the pieces with a new baseball ops team, his most tenured subordinate Ben Cherington will be given the big chair and will work with Henry, Werner & Lucchino along with a brand new manager, who will undoubtedly become “Ben’s guy.”

In the end, it remains to be seen if these changes will be good, bad or indifferent for any of the clubs at all.  But it isn’t hard to see that already, before he has made a move as the head man of the Cubs, has elevated his stature among the MLB hierarchy ten-fold.  Would he have done that had he simply signed an extension to remain theRed Sox GM?  Certainly not.  At the end of the day Theo Epstein, just like all personnel men, are businessmen.  And that is what this is about, whether it is a sexy story or not.  No beer, video games, pain pills, fried chicken, solo cups, or sideline reporters.  It’s just business.

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Breaking down the Theo Epstein era in Boston

There has been and will continue to be a lot of discussion on the legacy of Theo Epstein as general manager of the Boston Red Sox.  On one hand you can’t argue with the successes – two World Championships, 5 playoff appearances in 9 seasons and a division title.  On the flip side Epstein’s departute left a bad taste in some’s mouths with no playoff appearances in the past two seasons despite big money contracts being handed out to the likes of John Lackey and Carl Crawford.  Let’s take a look at a year by year breakdown of Theo’s 9 season ran as Red Sox General Manager

  1. 2003
  • Free agent additions (off-season) – Jason Shiell (waivers), Brandon Lyon (waivers), Ryan Rupe (waivers), Damian Jackson, Chad Fox, Ramiro Mendoza, Andy Abad, Mike Timlin, Bill Mueller, Earl Snyder (waivers), David Ortiz, Hector Almonte, Bronson Arroyo (waivers), Kevin Millar, Robert Person, Lou Collier
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Paxton Crawford, Steve Lomasney, Cliff Floyd, Ugueth Urbina, Carlos Baerga, Rickey Henderson, Tony Clark, Rey Sanchez, Dustin Hermanson, Brian Daubach
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired Todd Walker from the Cincinnati Reds for Josh Thigpen and Tony Blanco, Acquired Jeremy Giambi from Philadelphia Phillies for Josh Hancock, Acquired Cesar Crespo from the San Diego Padres for Luis Cruz, Acquired Ryan Cameron from the Colorado Rockies for Javier Lopez
  • Additions (in-season) – Rudy Seanez, Bruce Chen (waivers), Gabe Kapler, Todd Jones, David McCarty (waivers)
  • Releases (in-season) – Rudy Seanez, Chad Fox
  • Trades (in-season) – Acquired Byung Hyun Kim from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Shea Hillenbrand, Acquired Mike Gonzalez and Scott Sauerback from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Brandon Lyon and Anastascio Martinez, Acquired Scott Williamson from the Cincinnati Reds for Phil Dumatrait and Tyler Pelland, Acquired Jeff Suppan, Brandon Lyon and Anastascio Martinez for Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez
  • First 10 draft picks – David Murphy, Matt Murton, Abe Alvarez, Mickey Hall, Beau Vaughan, Jonathan Papelbon, Brian Marshall, Jessie Corn, Jeremy West, Lee Curtis
  • BEST SIGNING – David Ortiz, In an off-season of many quality signings Ortiz was clearly the best.  A staple in the lineup for 9 seasons, in which he became perhaps the greatest DH in MLB history.  Won two rings and was ALCS MVP in 2004.
  • WORST SIGNING – Ramiro Mendoza, Was given a two year deal for big money to be the garbage time guy out of the bullpen (when he was healthy) for two years.
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Todd Walker from Cincinatti for Josh Thigpen and Tony Blanco, Walker stabilized the #2 hole in the lineup for the Sox and also became a blueprint for the shrewd trades make for that last complimentary peice, which became an Epstein staple.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired Mike Gonzalez and Scott Sauerback from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Brandon Lyon and Anastascio Martinez, This was just an odd happening, with Martinez and Lyon coming back a few weeks later along with Jeff Suppan.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Jonathan Papelbon, The most prolific closer in Red Sox history, the 5th selection of the day.
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Abe Alvarez, Was thoroughly unimpressive in just a handful of starts in the bigs.
  1. 2004
  • Free agent additions (off-season) – Jeff Bailey, Adam Hyzdu, Bobby Jones, Mark Malaska (waivers), Lenny DiNardo (Rule 5), Pokey Reese, Keith Foulke, Brian Daubach, Terry Shumpert, Ellis Burks, Tony Womack, Frank Castillo, George Lombard, Joe Nelson
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Bruce Chen, Lou Collier, Ryan Rupe, Bob Howry, Todd Walker, Jeff Suppan, Andy Abad, Jeremy Giambi, Damian Jackson, Scott Sauerback,
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired Curt Schilling from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Jorge de la Rosa and Michael Goss, Acquired Mark Bellhorn from Colorado Rockies for cash, Acquired Matt Duff from St. Louis Cardinals for Tony Womack
  • Additions (in-season) – Curtis Leskanic, Brandon Puffer, Pedro Astacio, Mike Myers (waivers)
  • Releases (in-season) – Terry Shumpert
  • Trades (in-season) – Acquired Ricky Gutierrez from the Chicago Cubs for cash, Acquired Terry Adams from the Toronto Blue Jays for John Hattig, Acquired Dave Roberts from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Henri Stanley, Acquired Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientciewicz in a 4 team trade, sent Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to Chicago Cubs
  • First 10 draft picks – Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Dobbies, Tommy Hottovy, Ryan Schroyer, Cla Meredith, Patrick Perry, Kyle Bono, Matt Van Der Bosch, Steven Pearce, Ryan Phillips
  • BEST SIGNING – Keith Foulke, Was the hero of the post-season for the Red Sox in 2004, earned every penny of his contract in the ALCS alone.
  • WORST SIGNING – Tony Womack, Traded before the beginning of the season and became a key utility man for the Yankees by the end.
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Curt Schilling from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Jorge de la Rosa and Michael Goff, When you get a future Hall-of-Famer for virtually nothing it’s always a plus.  Not to mention the two World Series wins he helped bring.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired Terry Adams from the Toronto Blue Jays for John Hattig, Unoffensive but Adams wasn’t very good.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Dustin Pedroia, Seven seasons later he is the face of the franchise, Theo’s best draft pick ever.
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Andrew Dobbies, Never heard of him.
  1. 2005
  • Free agent additions (off-season) – Billy Traber (waivers), Kris Wilson, Matt Mantei, Adam Stern (Rule 5), John Halama, David Wells, Edgar Renteria, Matt Clement, Wade Miller, Geremi Gonzalez, Roberto Petagine
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Cesar Crespo, Earl Snyder, Joe Nelson, Terry Adams, Pedro Astacio, Orlando Cabrera, Curtis Leskanic, Derek Lowe, David McCarty, Ramiro Mendoza, Mike Myers, Pokey Reese, Scott Williamson, Ellis Burks, Pedro Martinez, Ricky Gutierrez
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired Jay Payton, Ramon Vazquez, and David Pauley from the San Diego Padres for Dave Roberts, Acquired Ian Bladergroen from the New York Mets for Doug Mientciewicz, Acquired Blaine Neal from the San Diego Padres for Adam Hyzdu, Acquired Mike Myers from the St. Louis Cardinals for Kevin Ool and Carlos de la Cruz, Acquired Chris Narveson and Charles Johnson from the Colorado Rockies for Byung-Hyun Kim
  • Additions (in-season) – John Olerud, Luis Mendoza (waivers), Jose Cruz (waivers), Chad Harville (waivers)
  • Releases (in-season) – Alan Embree, John Halama, Mark Bellhorn, Mike Remlinger
  • Trades (in-season) – Acquired Alex Cora from the Cleveland Indians for Ramon Vazquez, Acquired Chad Bradford from the Oakland Athletics for Jay Payton, Acquired Adam Hyzdu from the San Diego Padres for Scott Cassidy, Acquired Tony Graffanino from the Kansas City Royals for Chip Ambres and Juan Cedeno, Acquired Mike Relminger from the Chicago Cubs for Oliver Astacio
  • First 10 draft picks – Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden, Jonathan Egen, Scott Blue, Reid Engel, Jeff Corsaletti, Yahmen Yema
  • BEST SIGNING – John Olerud, Was tempted to go with David Wells but he is too much of a Yankee for my taste I suppose, Olerud really helped when Millar struggled with injuries and a decline in play.
  • WORST SIGNING – Matt Clement, Most people would have Renteria in this slot but at least we traded him and he produced a bit for Atlanta whereas Clement spent the better part of three years on the disabled list as he collected every penny of his 3 year, 27 million dollar contract.
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Alex Cora from the Cleveland Indians for Ramon Vazquez, A classic Epstein move.  He traded one player of similar on-field value for another but Cora brought so much more off the field, he was like an extra coach.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired Ian Bladergroen from the New York Mets for Doug Mientciewicz, Again it’s like grasping for straws finding an Epstein trade you really don’t like.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Jacoby Ellsbury, You can go back and forth between him and Buchholz but he was a huge spark plug in the ’07 World Series run and Comeback Player of the Year in 2011.
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Craig Hansen, Was too hyped and sent up too early.  Still he was used as a chip for Jason Bay and none of the other picks were really bad.
  1. 2006
  • Free agent additions (off-season) – Devern Hansack, J.T. Snow, Julian Tavarez, Willie Harris, Craig Breslow, Alex Gonzalez, Hee-Seop Choi (waivers), Rudy Seanez
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Chad Harville, Geremi Gonzalez, Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, Johnny Damon, Tony Graffanino, Mike Myers, Matt Mantei, John Olerud, Mark Malaska, Chad Bradford, Wade Miller
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota from the Florida Marlins for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Sanchez, Acquired Mark Loretta from the San Diego Padres for Doug Mirabelli, Acquired Andy Marte from the Atlanta Braves for Edgar Renteria, Acquired Coco Crisp, Josh Bard, and David Riske for Guillermo Mota, Andy Marte, and Kelly Shoppach, Acquired Wily Mo Pena from the Cincinatti Reds for Bronson Arroyo
  • Additions (in-season) – Corky Miller, Kyle Snyder (waivers), Jason Johnson, Eric Hinske, Carlos Pena
  • Releases (in-season) – J.T. Snow, Rudy Seanez, Jason Johnson
  • Trades (in-season) – Acquired Doug Mirabelli from the San Diego Padres for Josh Bard and Cla Meredith, Acquired Javier Lopez from the Chicago White Sox for David Riske, Acquired Bryan Corey from the Texas Rangers for Luis Mendoza, Acquired Javy Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles for Adam Stern, Acquired George Kottaras from the San Diego Padres for David Wells
  • First 10 Draft Picks – Jason Place, Daniel Bard, Kris Johnson, Caleb Clay, Justin Masterson, Aaron Bates, Bryce Cox, Jon Still, Dustin Richardson, Zach Daeges
  • BEST SIGNING – Julian Tavarez, Not many signings but Julian Tavarez was easily the best of the bunch, being the clutch 6th man in the rotation for two seasons.
  • WORST SIGNING – J.T. Snow, Lasted just a few weeks before he was ushered off.
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota from the Florida Marlins for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Sanchez, Long before beer and fried chicken Beckett was the workhorse of the 2007 rotation and Lowell was 2007 World Series MVP.  The key piece in the deal, Hanley Ramirez, is acting more and more like Manny Ramirez.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired Doug Mirabelli from the San Diego Padres for Josh Bard and Cla Meredith, Just embarassing from the hype of the trade and the police escort to the stadium, all for Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher who they just could have re-signed in the off-season.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Daniel Bard, Been a mostly consistent force for the back of the bullpen.  This was close with Masterson.
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Jason Place, Just a colossal disappointment for a first round pick, neve rplayed an inning in the Majors for the Red Sox.
  1. 2007
  • Free agent additions (off-season) – Hideki Okajima, Julio Lugo, Joe McEwing, Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.C. Romero, Joel Pineiro, Kevin Cash, J.D. Drew
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Alex Gonzalez, Keith Foulke, Willie Harris, Gabe Kapler, Mark Loretta, Trot Nixon, Lenny DiNardo (waivers)
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired Brendan Donnelly from Los Angeles Angels for Phil Seibel
  • Additions (in-season) – Junior Spivey, Bobby Kielty, Royce Clayton
  • Releases (in-season) – J.C. Romero
  • Trades (in-season) – Acquired Eric Gagne from the Texas Rangers for David Murphy, Kason Gabbard, and Engel Beltre, Acquired Sean Danielson from the St. Louis Cardinals for Joel Pineiro, Acquired Chris Carter from the Washington Nationals for Wily Mo Pena
  • First 10 Draft Picks – Nick Hagadone, Ryan Dent, Hunter Morris, Brock Huntzinger, Chris Province, Will Middlebrooks, Anthony Rizzo, David Mailman, Adam Mills
  • BEST SIGNING – J.D Drew, Yup, it’s Drew.  He was consistent, if overpaid, for the first four years of his contract and had a collection of clutch hits in the post-season.
  • WORST SIGNING – Julio Lugo, Not as bad as Renteria but there was no Matt Clement here so he’s the worst.
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Chris Carter from the Washington Nationals for Wily Mo Pena, Pena was a mistake from the get-go, he didn’t fit the organizational philosophy, so in a quiet year for trades, his was the best.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired Eric Gagne from the Texas Rangers for David Murphy, Kason Gabbard, and Engel Beltre, In a stellar resume of trades for Theo Epstein, this sticks out as a sore thumb as a stinker.  The only one that possibly comes close might be the Bedard deal of this year.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Anthony Rizzo, Didn’t get picked til the 6th round but became a key piece in the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Ryan Dent, He hasn’t made a dent so far in the Red Sox farm system.
  1. 2008
  • Free agent signings (off-season) – Jonathan Van Every, Joe Thurston, Sean Casey, Bartolo Colon
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Matt Clement, Eric Hinske, Eric Gagne, Royce Clayton, Craig Breslow (waivers)
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired David Aardsma from the Chicago White Sox for Miguel Socolovich and Willy Mota
  • Additions (in-season) – Jason Lane, David Ross
  • Releases (in-season) – Abe Alvarez, Julian Tavarez, Bobby Kielty
  • Trades (in-season) – Acquired Jason Bay from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 3-way trade sending Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Acquired Paul Byrd from the Cleveland Indians for Mickey Hall, Acquired Mark Kotsay from the Atlanta Braves for Luis Sumoza
  • First 10 Draft Picks – Casey Kelly, Bryan Price, Derrik Gibson, Stephen Fife, Kyle Weiland, Peter Hissey, Ryan Westmoreland, Ryan Lavarnway, Tim Federowicz, Michael Lee
  • BEST SIGNING – Sean Casey, Another year with little free agent activity, as they mostly set their roster in the year prior, but he was a good clubhouse guy that the current team could use.
  • WORST SIGNING – Bartolo Colon, He was just out of shape and useless in 2008.  Hurt himself swinging while at-bat in a National League park and was useless for the duration.
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Jason Bay from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 3-way trade sending Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Manny had long worn out his welcome and as much as a headache he was, they got a good producer in Bay for the stretch run plus one more season.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired David Aardsma from the Chicago White Sox for Miguel Socolovich and Willy Mota, Again not much to choose from so we’ll give it to giving up two pieces for Aardsma.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Casey Kelly, A no-brainer pick and a big piece of the Adrian Gonzalez trade.
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Derrik Gibson, Has done nothing impressive thus far.
  1. 2009
  • Free agent additions (off-season) – Junichi Tazawa, Brad Penny, Nick Green, Rocco Baldelli, Takashi Saito, John Smoltz, Brad Wilkerson
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Alex Cora, David Ross, Sean Casey, Bartolo Colon, Curt Schilling, Jason Lane, Kevin Cash, Mike Timlin
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired Ramon Ramirez from the Kansas City Royals for Coco Crisp, Acquired Fabian Williamson from the Seattle Mariners for David Aardsma
  • Additions (in-season) – Kason Gabbard, Paul Byrd, Chris Woodward (waivers), Joey Gaithright
  • Releases (in-season) – Jonathan Van Every, John Smoltz, Chris Duncan, Brad Penny
  • Trades (in-season) – Acquired Chris Duncan from the St. Louis Cardinals for Julio Lugo, Acquired Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland, Acquired Brian Anderson from the Chicago White Sox for Mark Kotsay, Acquired Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price, Acquired Casey Kotchman from the Atlanta Braves for Adam LaRoche, Acquired Alex Gonzalez from the Cincinatti Reds for Kris Negron, Acquired Billy Wagner from the New York Mets for Chris Carter and Eddie Lora
  • First 10 Draft Picks – Reymond Fuentes, Alex Wilson, David Fuentes, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Seth Schwindenhammer, Brandon Kline, Madison Younginer, Shannon Wilkerson, Kendal Volz, Brandon Jacobs
  • BEST SIGNING – Junichi Tazawa, There is nothing here really but at least Tazawa is still with the team and he at least still has some upside.
  • WORST SIGNING – John Smoltz, A great guy with an amazing career but he had nothing left by time he donned a Sox uniform.
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price, Some big pieces given up but again Theo got a guy for more than just the stretch run.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired Fabian Williamson from the Seattle Mariners for David Aardsma, Again nothing really to choose from so let’s use another deal involving Aardsma.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Too soon
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Too soon
  1. 2010
  • Free agent additions (off-season) – Darnell McDonald, Marco Scutaro, Scott Atchison, Mike Cameron, John Lackey, Adrian Beltre
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Takashi Saito, Rocco Baldelli, Jason Bay, Nick Green, Billy Wagner, Joey Gathright, Alex Gonzalez, Paul Byrd, Chris Woodward, George Kottaras (waivers)
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins for Jose Alvarez and Hunter Jones, Acuired Boof Bonser from the Minnesota Twins for Chris Province, Acquired Bill Hall from the Seattle Mariners for Casey Kotchman
  • Additions (in-season) – Ryan Shealy, Rich Hill, Matt Fox (waivers), Felipe Lopez
  • Releases (in-season) – Boof Bonser, Kason Gabbard, Ryan Shealy, Jeremy Hermida
  • Trades (in-season) – Acquired Eric Patterson from the Oakland Athletics for Fabian Williamson, Acquired Kevin Cash from the Houston Astros for Angel Sanchez, Acquired Jack Hannahan from the Seattle Mariners for cash, Acquired Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for Chris McGuiness, Roman Mendez, and Michael Thomas, Acquired Daniel Turpen from the San Fransisco Giants for Ramon Ramirez, Acquired Chris Balcon-Miller from the Colorado Rockies for Manny Delcarmen
  • First 10 Draft Picks – Kolbren Vitek, Bryce Brentz, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Sean Coyle, Garin Cecchini, Henry Ramos, Kendrick Perkins (!), Chris Hernandez, Matthew Price
  • BEST SIGNING – Adrian Beltre, Exactly the type of guy that you want on your team, he plays up to the situation he’s in.  If only.
  • WORST SIGNING – John Lackey, What’s more to be said that hasn’t already been?
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for Chris McGuiness, Roman Mendez, and Michael Thomas, Theo did great to buy low on Salty with three low-level prospects.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins for Jose Alvarez and Hunter Jones, Sure Hermida collided with Beltre but he hasn’t stuck with a team since.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Too soon
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Too soon
  1. 2011
  • Free agent additions (off-season) – Carl Crawford, Matt Albers, Randy Williams, Dan Wheeler, Bobby Jenks, Hector Luna, Alredo Aceves
  • Free agent subtractions (off-season) – Jack Hannahan, Kevin Cash, Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, Bill Hall, Felipe Lopez, Ramon Ramirez
  • Trades (off-season) – Acquired Andrew Miller from the Florida Marlins for Dustin Richardson, Acquired Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres for Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson
  • Additions (in-season) – Kevin Millwood, Trever Miller, Joey Gathright
  • Releases (in-season) – Kevin Millwood
  • Trades – (in-season) – Acquired Franklin Morales from the Colorado Rockies for cash, Acquired cash from the Florida Marlins for Mike Cameron, Acquired Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz, Acquired Erik Bedard and Josh Fields from the Seattle Mariners for Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Juan Rodriguez, and Chih-Hsien Chiang, Acquired Conor Jackson from the Oakland Athletics for Jason Rice
  • First 10 Draft Picks – Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley, Williams Jerez, Jordan Weems, Noe Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Miguel Pena, Cody Kuhuk
  • BEST SIGNING – Alfredo Aceves, Theo’s last value signing, he pounced on Aceves after the Yankees cut him.  What makes it all the more sweeter is that he is under control for 3 more seasons.
  • WORST SIGNING – Bobby Jenks, Crawford gets a pass until next year and I’m not sure if Jenks ever gets healthy.
  • BEST TRADE – Acquired Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres for Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson, A huge price to pay but Gonzalez will be a stalwart for years.
  • WORST TRADE – Acquired Erik Bedard and Josh Fields from the Seattle Mariners for Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Juan Rodriguez, and Chih-Hsien Chiang, Too many pieces to give up for what could turn out to be a rental.
  • BEST DRAFT PICK – Too soon
  • WORST DRAFT PICK – Too soon

So to recap, Theo excelled with the buy low signings early in his career but when teams started to retain those guys he started to flex the team’s financial muscles, often to dubious results.  As far as trades go his record his stellar.  Only two real questionable decisions where he seemed to have overreached (Gagne and Bedard) but for the most part never gave anything up unless it was for real value and stayed away from giving up too much for rentals.

Twitter @ErikVenskus

A perspective on “HohlerGate”

I, like many others in the Boston area, read the article by Bob Hohler in the Boston Globe this morning about the September collapse.  And like many I have a very strong opinion on it.  I’ll get to Hohler, whether this was another dastardly “leak” from the front office, and what I had a problem with in this article but let me be clear on some basic facts first.

  • I accept that there was some semblance of truth in this article.  Obviously we know that there were issues going on in the clubhouse.  I understand that there were definitely bad things going on with the troika of Beckett, Lackey, and Lester in the clubhouse.  There was just a bit more detail about that thrown into this article.
  • I understand that Terry Francona wasn’t the same Terry Francona that has managed the Red Sox for the past 7 years prior.  Reputable sources close to Francona such as Jerry Remy have confirmed as such.  Obviously a combination of personal and professional issues could have led to Tito wanting a clean break but I am speculating here as much as the next guy.  More on that later.
  • I realize that there are other problems in the clubhouse besides the pitchers.  Youk’s been reported to be an unpopular guy in the clubhouse for years now and things are probably worse when he is unable to produce.  I can buy Jacoby Ellsbury having a chip on his shoulder after what he went through last year, maybe he was detached.

As I said, I feel that all parts of the article pertaining to the above issues are probably true (save for some of the stuff on Francona which I will get to in a minute) but that doesn’t mean you can point to the article and say “Well, this stuff is true so why wouldn’t the rest be?” which I have heard many times today.  One of my favorites is “When there is smoke there is fire.”  While that is true but when there is smoke there is also more smoke.  Here is what I didn’t like about the article before I get to the author(s) and who may or may not have played a part in the article.

  • Let’s start with Adrian Gonzalez.  This guy was the consummate professional and workhorse all year, as he’s been for his entire career.  The only thing worth criticizing all season were his comments after the end of the season about the schedule.  Somehow the author(s) somehow tie those comments into a lack of leadership?  It left a bad taste in my mouth, especially when they attributed that comment to “September” rather than after the season had ended to create the illusion that there was an ongoing issue yet offering no further evidence that there actually was.
  • This one might go half here and half up top but I’m going to defend Papi a bit.  Sure he probably developed a chip on his shoulder due to his contract situation and perhaps other goings on in the clubhouse but there is no doubt that he played his ass off in September and actually wanted to win.  The author(s) quickly gloss over the fact that he tried to rally the team in September by citing two public “embarrassments” of Terry Francona.  While the press room incident was uncalled for, I can hardly criticize Ortiz for saying what everyone was thinking…why was Kyle Weiland starting while Alfredo Aceves stayed in the bullpen?  Again the author(s) just cite public incidents in an article strife with insider information to criticize a player.
  • Perhaps my favorite part, the short throw away line before detailing an exchange with Dustin Pedroia – “In the end, only Pedroia and a few other players appeared to remain fully committed to winning, according to team sources.”  While this author(s) shamelessly names the culprits of the many transgressions that he uncovered he conveniently decides that he doesn’t want to name names when it is time to talk about the guys who did play hard.  It’s not hard to wonder why.  Maybe they were players that made a lot of money.  Maybe they were players who didn’t play well despite said effort.  Either way it would apparently be counter-productive to the author(s) agenda to name said players in a positive light.
  • One of the more curious things in the article is whose names were missing from it.  Two of the biggest on-field culprits of September, Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard, went unmentioned in the article.  Why was that?  Were they two of the guys who worked hard to meager results?  Were they clubhouse problems and if so why weren’t they mentioned?  It’s odd to me that a piece on the Red Sox September collapse, even if it mostly focused on off-field stuff, didn’t mention to of its feature players.  By my account the only other four regulars not mentioned specifically by name in this article were Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marco Scutaro, and the right field combination of J.D. Drew and Josh Reddick.
  • Now let’s talk about Tito.  Seriously, a pill addiction?  The author(s) weren’t totally out of line to mention it if it had in fact been brought up by a source but it seems like the wrong forum to tie this in to an article on the September collapse like it somehow had something to do with it when the article cites an incident in spring training that was vetted.  Why not write a wholly separate article on Tito instead of going all-out hatchet job in the middle of a bigger article.  Also this was not specifically mentioned, only implied, but when is the Boston sports media going to get sick of the now tired “Personal problems?  Marital problems?  He must be banging Heidi Watney” cliche.  I don’t understand how that girl sticks around here.

So now the obvious question is “Why was this article written now and what was the agenda behind it.”  Clearly there was an agenda behind it, you can see it clear as day in the writing.  Who is behind it?  I guess that’s the million dollar question.  As much as the tiring know-it-all Boston sports fans will want to exonerate the writer(s) but the fact still remains that this may not be the most accurate picture of everything that went on.  Mike Giardi of Comcast Sports New England’s shorter article of the same subject (http://www.csnne.com/10/12/11/Giardi-Sox-clubhouse-became-a-poison-cen/landing_redsox.html?blockID=576214&feedID=3352) paints Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford (who actually wasn’t mentioned in the Globe article until his free agent signing was used as an example for discourse between Theo and the front office) in a much different light.  Of course my suspicions are that Crawford was one of the guys who played hard all the way but why give one of the resident whipping boys any credit, especially if a number of the other whipping boys may be headed out the door?  Also Dustin Pedroia chimed in with a player’s perspective of some of the issues addressed in the article (http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/2011/10/12/dustin-pedroia-on-the-big-show-clears-the-air-on-red-sox-clubhouse/) that doesn’t seem that far-fetched.  But beware to those (looking at you Curt Schilling and others) who put this hatchet job on the shoulders of “Red Sox Ownership”  First off, Red Sox Ownership, to me, implies three guys – John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino.  It stands to reason from past experience that at most only one of these guys would be involved in such an elaborate attempt at character assassination.  Could it be Shank Shank 2.0?  Perhaps but the fact of the matter is this – for the better part of the past 10 years the pouty, arrogant sports personalities in this city have moped around like spoiled jealous school children who didn’t get their way while the fans idolized a city filled with champions.  The sports personalities in this town are obsessed with being as big as the story or as the player or as the team.  September was like Christmas morning for a whole month plus an entire off-season.  So slander they must because they wouldn’t have it any other way.  And they had better enjoy it while they can because the last time two times this happened, the Red Sox were World Champions within two years.

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