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How to fix the Red Sox

Oct 14, 2011, 10:56 AM EDT

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Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston has a good column up about what the Red Sox should do this winter and into next season.  I take issue with the headline — “Sounds crazy, but the Red Sox can be saved” — because, dude, they still won 90 frickin’ games and are insanely talented. It’s not like they require super human efforts here. It’d be way crazier to suggest that some beer, fried chicken and a late-season skid suddenly turned these guys into the Chicago Cubs.

But there are a lot of intriguing ideas in the mix. One of them: make Daniel Bard a starter.  Which, sure, is something he did when he first came into the Sox organization. Except he was horrendous in that role, walking guys like he was paid to do it and striking guys out at a rate less than half of what he’d go on to do as a reliever. I suppose stranger things have happened, but I could never see the Sox making Bard a starter now.

But yeah, some of the other stuff — such as giving Carl Crawford a set place in the lineup and leaving him alone — is good.  Most important of all, however, is resisting the urge to panic and make dumb decisions based on a couple of unfortunate weeks.

  1. El Bravo - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Can’t we just dissolve the Red Sox? They don’t have any fans anyway, so no one will miss them. We can open a huge fried chicken joint at Fenway instead.

  2. iamthedoublestandard - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Unfortunate? Stubbing your toe in the dark is unfortunate. This was a disaster in the making. Talented? Yes. Undisciplined, uncommitted and apathetic? Very rich in that area.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:17 PM

      I have trouble believed that Josh Beckett and Jon Lester suddenly became lazy pieces of dung. Beckett used to be insanely intense — getting blisters from holding the ball so tight. And Lester overcame cancer to come back.

      I think they probably need a kick in the butt. But I have no idea how to motivate millionaires with guaranteed contracts.

      • garnermusic - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:06 PM

        Agreed!

    • nolanwiffle - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      When did this lack of dscipline, uncommittedness, and apathy first take hold?

      • phillyphreak - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:41 PM

        Right after they were eliminated from playoff contention.

  3. Joe - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Bard’s problems as a starter were due to poor mechanics, not due to his being a starter. He worked them out after being put into a relief role. That said, I’ve read that he is susceptible to losing his confidence and pitching poorly as a result, and moving him back into a starting role might not work out if he doesn’t believe he can do it.

    I’d rather Aceves be put into the rotation than Bard.

    • bigharold - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:59 PM

      Aceves is a great pitcher no doubt but he has had back problems. Penciling him in for 30 starts might be the quickest way to ruin him. It could be the Yankees made a mistake letting him go or that they thought they had better options than him. Or, perhaps there is something about his back that scared them off. Besides, they take him out of the pen and a bad BP gets a lot worse.

      Bard on the other hand looks like Kyle Fansworth at times. Good news for Papelbon because he’s about to take a whole lot of John Henry’s money.

  4. mcsnide - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Crawford in the 2 slot? Really? That’s beyond silly. While you can quibble about precisely how to divide the pie, it’s pretty clear that 1-4 should be your four best hitters. Crawford is demonstrably not in the same class as Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis, and Ortiz as a hitter. At best, you stick him in the 6 slot and leave him there.

    • Jonny 5 - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      It must be nice to have .300 hitters EVERYWHERE in your line up. I do have to question the whole Ortiz is better than Crawford thing though (Crawford had an abnormally unproductive season), even though i’d still keep him at the clean up spot.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:22 PM

        Carl Crawford’s best year:
        wOBA – .378
        wRC – 140

        Ortiz last year
        wOBA – .405
        wRC – 153

        Crawford gets a ton of value on defense which is built on his legs. Unfortunately that’s where a lot of his offensive value comes from as well as he doesn’t walk at all.

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        I don’t expect Ortiz to put up 2011 numbers ever again. Although I didn’t expect him to do what he did in 2011 either. I think I underestimate the man actually. That’s what I like about you copo, always there to point out what others have missed. I’ve been anticipating Ortiz to fall off a cliff for a few years now. But he just doesn’t do it. Although 2010 looked that way until later in the season.

        Are you using a park adjusted averages for wOBA? Because Ortiz has that pretty big advantage because of Crawford playing in a bigger park much of his career. I also would never expect Crawford to do much over 130 for wRC due to the lack of power anyway. I just always pictured Crawford as the better hitter. Although Ortiz looks much better for obp, I had attributed it to Int walks.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:18 PM

      Just a year ago, Crawford was certainly in the same class as Ellsbury. I tend to doubt he completely forgot how to play baseball in the offseason, and I have plenty of hope he turns it around.

      I also think there’s plenty of reason to think Ellsbury — who I love — will regress.

      • mcsnide - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM

        Jonny5,

        Ortiz isn’t a better player than Crawford when you consider Crawford as a whole package. I wouldn’t even try to make that argument. But Ortiz is the better hitter, which is what matters in terms of lineup spot. Crawford’s career best OBP is 13 points lower than Ortiz’s career average, and let’s not even discuss the considerable power gap. I suppose you could argue that Ortiz is about to fall off a cliff, due to his age, though, so maybe that one’s not quite as cut and dried as I said.

        18thstreet,

        I do expect Crawford to be better next year than he was, and Ellsbury to be not as good. That said, Crawford’s on the wrong side of the aging curve. And at his best, he hits .300, OBPs .350 and has 15 HRs, which is basically an average season for Ellsbury (if you look at his three full healthy seasons).

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:19 PM

        Absolutely Mcsnide, I meant in hitting terms though. And as I said above I tend to underestimate Ortiz.

  5. Joe - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    This was curious: and for the money it would take to re-sign Pap, sign two guys, such as Ryan Madson and Heath Bell.

    Are Heath Bell and Ryan Madsen BOTH going to ask for less than half of what Papelbon gets? And furthermore, once one of those guys is signed, is there any chance in hell that the other one would come on board? Aren’t they both going to want to collect saves?

    I think Edes could have shortened this to, “don’t do anything rash or stupid.” But I suppose he needed a few more inches than that.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      There is no way in hell that Bor-ass is going to get less than half of what Papelbon gets for Madson. No f’ing way. Madson will get Soriano-type money if not more.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:53 AM

        Yeah, that is ridiculous. If he signs for half of what Papelbon gets…it will be in a Phillies uniform.

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        Actually I see Madson getting less than Soriano type money. Just a little bit though. And that’s to stay with Philly. I mean the dude just built a damn fine home locally, so I see him wanting to stay.

  6. mcsnide - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    He questions whether Youk can stay healthy, then suggests signing Jose Freaking Reyes to a 9-figure deal? Glad Edes isn’t on the short list to replace Theo.

    • poprox13 - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      Yeah that way the left side of the infield can be on the DL for half the year….

    • aceshigh11 - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      Indeed, but aside from that provocative suggestion, Edes’ article was pretty sound. I liked most of what I read.

  7. aceshigh11 - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I don’t even know if it’d be possible to keep Ellsbury now, money or no.

    Why WOULD he want to stay in Boston after how he was treated by some of the fans, some of his teammates, and those in the media last year?

    He’s incredibly talented and pretty much can write his own ticket at this point. I hope we keep him but I have my doubts that he’d even want to stick around. Word is he was very withdrawn from the rest of the team due to what happened last year.

  8. bigleagues - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    With Edes I’m forced into a conundrum. He is one of the only sane Boston sports writers, and yet, he works for ESPN.

    My head spins in attempting to reconcile this.

  9. yournuts - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    The Red Sox are a great team and don’t need to be saved. They missed the playoffs by one game because their pitching failed them late in the season. Listening to these fools it sounds like they lost 90 games. The Red Sox will be fine.

  10. tekton8 - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Another interesting read today from the Globe’s Tony Mazzaroti. Among other things, he suggests that trading Ellsbury this offseason may be the Sox best shot to improve their pitching staff…

    Trading Ellsbury would hurt, but the chances of the Sox signing him are low (Boras guy, Crawford contract) and I like the creative thinking here. But the problem is Ellsbury only has two years of arbitration left before he goes megabucks. This would suggest that only high payroll teams (capable of signing Ellsbury long term) that ALSO have an abundance of front line starters would be willing to make this deal… that’s a short list.

    • mabunar - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      Mazz hates Ellsbury. He wanted him gone last year, coming up with ‘sources’ that said Ellsbury was too soft and was always one to want to rest vs playing through pain. Will he hit 30 again? I doubt it, but low 20s and good OBP in the leadoff would be nice.

      If you keep Ellsbury and he’s still good…you get two more years of good player. You have two more years you can negotiate…if he’s really good, then why wouldn’t you try to resign him? If he’s really good and you can’t resign him, you get draft picks. I hate the whole notion that you need to sell high on every player. And as stated, how many teams could really trade for him, so what would you really get in return?

      As for being a Boras guy…they’ve signed Boras guys in the past, they’ll sign em in the future. Will it cost more, probably. But they didn’t have issues overpaying before to get their guy.

    • thinman61 - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:55 PM

      Mazz has an axe to grind. Take anything he says with a huge grain of salt. This is the guy who, right before the Sox won it all in ’04, wrote that they were clearly going nowhere because Theo and the Trio worshipped at the altar of boring station to station baseball, and that what the Sox needed to do to win a championship was to get religion about playing smallball.

      Mazz is a clown.

  11. franklapidus316 - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Everyone said same thing about Mets after 07. And they did manage to play well enough to blow late lead again in 08. But in hindsight,,, really hard to say it wasn’t a warning sign.

    There’s more settings than just Panic and Do Nothing and Just Assume It Was Small Sample Size Malfunction. Would suggest something very much in the middle.

    …And yes, you can write the same tongue in cheek commentary about Beer/Chicken-gate 20 times, but really, no one thinks they lost because Beckett was sitting in the clubhouse playing Madden while Kyle Weiland was pitching like a shot up Scott Weiland. The larger point is likely about insubordination from ostensible team leaders.

  12. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    This really shouldn’t be that complicated for Henry and Co.: double your previous offer to Billy Beane and then sign Fielder, Pujols, and CC to long-term deals. Fail-proof solution

  13. rsmith27 - Oct 15, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    Good comparison with the Mets after their big collapse. Could be a sign of things to come. But, could also be what shakes them up and gets them back on track with a new manager and GM. Just have to wait and see how they put the pieces back together.

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