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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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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