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Bill James to assume a more prominent role in the Red Sox front office

Sep 5, 2012, 8:54 AM EDT

Bill James

Bill James hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s been working for the Red Sox for years, but in recent years he’s reportedly had less and less of a voice in the team’s major decisions. Which isn’t surprising because you don’t need a groundbreaking analyst’s input to decide to give Carl Crawford and John Lackey a gazillion dollars. Quite the opposite, actually.

But the Boston Herald reports that James will back to the front in this bold new era of Red Sox history:

… as Henry informed the Herald, James had fallen “out of favor over the last few years for reasons I really don’t understand. We’ve gotten him more involved recently in the central process and that will help greatly. He’s the father, so to speak, of baseball analysis and a brilliant iconoclast who looks at things differently from everyone else.”

The biggest challenge for the Red Sox — how does one rebuild in an era where investments in amateur talent are capped and fewer and fewer elite talents are hitting free agency in their prime — would seem to fit James’ skill set pretty well.

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    The problem is John Henry. He is a meddling sports buffoon. Simultaneously, he is managing to destroy two great franchises on separate continents. It is truly an exceptional accomplishment.

    • Detroit Michael - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      While the past 1½ seasons have been chaotic, I would still guess that the entire John Henry ownership period has been more successful than any other Red Sox owner over the past 100 years. John Henry is not a problem.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:03 AM

        Lets ask Liverpool supporters if John Henry is the problem around Anfield. Arrogant meddler.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:12 AM

        Good lord, the Red Sox won two World Championships under his ownership. The team is hugely profitable, the stadium is selling out (snort, but attendance is surely better than ever), and TV ratings are healthy. The spend like crazy on payroll.

        He’s not perfect, but the alternative was McCourt. I’m glad he’s still owning the team.

        Liverpool fans will be happy soon enough. And then they’ll complain, because sports fans are ungrateful bastards with short memories.

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:22 AM

        Liverpool, the most storied franchise in all of UK Football (no it’s not Man U, people), were just emancipated from their own Frank McCourt situation in the person of Tom Hicks, yes, that Tom Hicks – former owner of the Texas Rangers.

        The fans at Anfield are understandably frustrated with how the last two decades have played out and how their once feared club has fallen out of top flight status. This, of course, compunded by Man U having gone on a Yankees-like run of winning 12 out of the past 22 League Championships.

        But John Henry is FAR from being the guilty party for Liverpool’s run of misfortune.

        As I just noted in a comment below – since FSG came aboard, substantive changes have been made to the club. Liverpool won their first tournament hardware in 6 seasons in the form of the early season Football League Cup tournament and lost the FA Cup Final to Chelsea who has won 4 out of the last 6 FA Cups, So how is it that you can characterize the team as headed in the wrong direction?

      • kiwicricket - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:35 AM

        Bigleagues…
        The League Cup and the FA Cup are not indicative of a strong club. It is common for lower grade teams to make the semis of these competitions. Its the League Championship and European football hardware which is the true barometer of a clubs strength. They are not a top 5 club anymore, which is indicated by their lack of transfer period spending, lack of results in the league and European football status. That is what the local fans are in utter dismay about. Their neighbors spending GDP of small countries on players is only compounding the atmosphere.

      • paperlions - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        Yes, but the success was because Henry hired smart baseball people and stayed out of the way. Those smart people made things look easy, and Henry (and Lucchino) thought they could do just as well (as is common for people that have been highly successful in financial pursuits). The more the owners meddled in baseball decisions, the more “leaks” there were, and the more chaos there has been. There isn’t a single baseball owners whose increased involvement will make his franchise better, smart owners hire good baseball people and get the hell out of the way.

    • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      I’m don’t mean this to be insulting, but did you stop to think that comment through before you posted it?

      ZERO World Series title for 86 years prior to John Henry/Tom Werner.

      TWO World Series titles since.

      As for Liverpool, they were a mess before Henry and FSG took over. And in the two years since FSG took stewardship of Liverpool they have set about rebuilding the club, even winning its first trophy in 6 seasons (Football League Cup) and coming within one game of winning the far more revered FA Cup.

      Not exactly what I’d describe as the ruination of two franchises. But go ahead and keep channeling the media’s dramatized accounting of the events . . .

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:21 AM

        Liverpool was a joke last year. Finishing 8th, 4 points below hated rivals Everton is unacceptable to them. Winning the Carling Cup would hardly compensate for that. Look at his transfer record since being the owner then get back to me. Since the purchase of Liverpool, the Red Sox have been a debacle. I predicted this last season and was scoffed at. But here we are, just as I said.

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM

        drmonkeyarmy

        How has one affected the other? The decisions that have led to the Red Sox misfortunes started long before Liverpool even became available in 2010.

        As for Liverpool, they have begun what is just their second full season under Henry’s ownership. Isn’t a bit rash to be blaming Liverpool’s Premier League title drought on Henry and FSG?

      • kiwicricket - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:37 AM

        *see reply abouve
        The League Cup is not really considered hardware by decent clubs. Liverpool were terrible last season.

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 11:36 AM

        Kiwi,

        I get it. And so what? You point that out and what? Dismiss their FA Cup performance?

        The big clubs don’t consider The Football League Cup a priority because the prize is miniscule, compared to the FA Cup. But the FLC is still a viable competitive tournament, despite clubs not always fielding their premier sides.

        It still doesn’t change the fact that they disposed of Manchester United en route to facing Chelsea in the FA Cup. No it’s not the Premier League Championship, but it certainly shouldn’t be dismissed and characterized as a failure. That’s nonsense.

        Last season was Fenway Sports Group’s first full season the job. Are they still learning the ins and outs of how to run a European football club? Yes.

        Are Kops being a tad irrational in coming down so hard – so soon – on Henry and Werner? YES.

        I do not know the specific economics of each Premiership market like I know MLB’s . . . but isn’t it possible that FSG, entering just their second full season is attempting to clean up a mess, restructure the roster and get the club on a firm financial footing with the liklihood of a new stadium (or improvements to Anfield) before spending wildly on transfers with no guarantee that acquired players will fit into a scheme and result in a better product on the field?

        I get that long-suffering Liverpool fans are antsy. But Liverpool fans have to realize they aren’t gonna transform overnight into a perennial contender against the likes of Man U, Man C, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenheim overnight.

        And circling back to finances – while I’m certain that the Pro Football clubs have their own brand of creative accounting (a la North American sports franchises) – is it prudent or in the long-term financial interests of Liverpool to spend lavishly like it’s neighbors . . . when Man City’s Premier League title was achieved via a reported $313.5M loss?!

        The lavish spending of the top Premiership clubs would make the Yankees & Dodgers blush. And the problem has gotten so out of control that the league is finally about to consider ways to enact spending limits.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/premier-league-clubs-to-discuss-spending-limits-8106648.html

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 11:57 AM

        And I will add this link that I just came across which proves my point about spending transfer money just appease the fanbase:

        http://hereisthecity.com/2012/03/29/the-staggering-disparities-of-the-premier-league-top-10-by-net-s/

        First of all, no one can currently compete with the financial might of the Man City’s billionaire sheik owner – who has outspent the next most lavishly spending team by 3-1 in transfer fee’s alone.

        Over the last 5 seasons (FOUR of which Henry’s was not the owner during the transfer period), not including the most recent transfer period which concluded the other day – Liverpool ranks THIRD overall in transfer spending.

      • mazblast - Sep 5, 2012 at 2:57 PM

        Man C fans and probably its owner(s) will gladly take a huge loss if it means Man U doesn’t win.

    • kranepool - Sep 5, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      I will take John Henry over Fred Wilpon everyday day of the week and twice on Sunday

  2. annaalamode - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Love the passive voice in Henry’s statement. Who knows why Bill James fell out of favor? It just happened! Like when a two year old decides she/he will only eat hot dogs for two weeks. Henry doesn’t know how this stuff happens! He can’t keep up with all these “details”.

  3. billymc75 - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Hire Billy Ripken Jr. And turn this club around, I think this guy could be a hell of a manager, especially when his brother hanging around cause they both love baseball .

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Is Billy Ripken Jr. some type of hybrid Ripken brother?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Is Billy Ripken Jr. some type of hybrid Ripken brother?

    • kiwicricket - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      Serious question….Are you nuts?

    • 18thstreet - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      I love baseball. Is that a qualification to be a manager?

      • kiwicricket - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:39 AM

        Sure, why not. If you write left handed, you’ve got the job.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        I AM left-handed!

  4. xpensivewinos - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Just when you think the Red Sox are about to pull their heads out of their collective a**, they announce something like this.

    Apparently, Henry is a much bigger Joe Paterno fan then he’s let on.

    My only advice to anyone working for the Red Sox, is never bring your kids around the office when this big, fat creepy scumbag is there.

    • kiwicricket - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:44 AM

      Hmmm slightly harsh don’t you think?

    • dangle13x - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      It’s not even that it’s harsh, it’s just so white trash and dumb.

    • dangle13x - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      how clever a penn state pedophile joke.

  5. bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Most importantly, we now have our reason why James wasn’t outright dismissed int he wake of his bizarre support of Joe Paterno.

    Me thinks he reads (and believes) John Ziegler’s alternate reality of events a little too much.

    • paperlions - Sep 5, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      He wasn’t dismissed because he is useful and having unpopular personal opinions is a dumb reason to dismiss (or suspend) an employee.

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        If only you were consistent with that line of thinking.

        I DON’T disagree that he is useful which is really underselling his core skills.

        That’s not the point. He’s paid to analyze player data and offer perspectives on that analysis. He works within the business of sports.

        A LARGE portion of the business of sports is its appeal to kids and families.

        Bill James was going out of his way to defend the indefensible. Which was starting to garner rather unneeded attention.

        Which, if it wasn’t squelched by Red Sox ownership when it was, could have blown up into a distraction from the club that was needed about as much as another media outlet covering the Boston sports landscape is.

      • paperlions - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        I’m not? Please display evidence.

        I doubt I would ever call for anyone to be fired for having a dumb opinion or defending a misguided view. Hell, if I was going to do that, I’d call for the resignation of everyone religious in a position of power, because I don’t think having superstitious people make decisions that affect so many lives is a good idea…..but I don’t call for that either.

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        having unpopular personal opinions is a dumb reason to dismiss (or suspend) an employee.

        Then what exactly is your issue with Bobby Valentine?

      • paperlions - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        Bobby Valentine is bad manager. He exhibits all of the traits of a bad boss/administrator. I don’t care what Valentine thinks about anything, I just think he’s bad at his job because he lacks the proper skill set.

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        paperlions:

        Bobby Valentine is bad manager.

        That’s your opinion and all, and that’s fine. But a large portion of your criticism for the bulk of this summer has centered around the dumb things that Valentine says.

        As for the ‘bad manager’ part, in case you missed it, I more than aptly countered that baseless assertion last night in the “Bring Back Terry Francona” thread.

        Some of my fellow Sox fans have allowed their hysteria over the last 12 months to reach a point that completely lacks context and facts.

        And your repeated stated criticisms/opinions on Bobby Valentine seem to amplify very few facts which serve only to bolster your point of view, but ignore many others which don’t.

      • paperlions - Sep 5, 2012 at 1:11 PM

        Yes, because those things are examples of him being a bad manager. Good managers do not smear their players while talking to the media. Good managers do not refer to their pitching coaches leaving to tend to their toddler with a serious medical condition as having been on vacation. These are examples of a serious lack of judgement and understanding that undermines authority and relationships of a manager.

        He seems to talk into microphones more than he talks to his players, as a common response when asked about discussions with players is “I haven’t talked to him about it.”

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Ahhhh. Well, thanks for clearing that up for me.

        So in summary, you acknowledge that your stated philosophy:

        having unpopular personal opinions is a dumb reason to dismiss (or suspend) an employee.

        applies to everyone butBobby Valentine.

        And, you continue to take the negative absolutist view that “all 25 players” on the Red Sox hate him and that all the players from his previous two major league teams hated him as well, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Is that correct?

      • paperlions - Sep 5, 2012 at 1:35 PM

        You really don’t understand do you? It isn’t what bobby thinks, it is the complete undermining of his authority by his actions.

      • paperlions - Sep 5, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        You really don’t understand do you? It isn’t what bobby thinks, it is the complete undermining of his authority by his actions. If Bill James talked smack about the teams own draft picks or about the people that reported to him, it would undermine his authority and demonstrate poor leadership qualities.

        Valentine can argue publicly about things that have nothing to do with the Red Sox all he wants, but when you rip your players to the media (players you can’t find time to talk to in person), but definition, you are doing a poor job of managing.

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        Oh no, I do understand. Quite well, actually.

        I understand that it (Bobby Valentine’s tenure with the Red Sox) is not as black and white as you have argued it to be.

        By the way, you keep avoiding my questions. Are you retracting or altering your previous statements that all 25 players hate Valentine?

        Or that he was dismissed from his two previous MLB jobs because all the players there hated him as well (even though he managed for a combined 15 years in those two previous gigs)?

        You were against Bobby Valentine, and down on this team, almost out of the gate this year. You haven’t given the guy a fair shake yet, and now all you do is drone on with the same hyperbole that the media has been pumping out since before the season ever started. Never mind that much of the commentary about Bobby Valentine’s previous managing jobs was factually bare to begin with.

      • bigleagues - Sep 5, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        I’m fascinated with your logic.

        I just don’t get it. I’ve tried, but it does not compute.

        Bill James can publicly voice his opinion on any non-Red Sox subject and the Red Sox shouldn’t have a problem with that unless his publicly expressed opinions are directly pointed at the Red Sox? Even when the subject matter of his opinion is not only specious but embarrassingly flawed and can, left unchecked, reflect quite negatively on the family-friendly organization that employs him?

        Conversely, Bobby Valentine, a guy lauded by HALL OF FAME players, co-workers, and at least one former boss, as being a more keen observer than – and smarter about – baseball than almost anyone else in the game; a guy that was saddled with the epic task of righting a ship that suffered a Titanic-level collapse before he arrived; a team that’s dysfunction pervaded the clubhouse long before he was handed the keys to his office – can’t publicly express his opinion about under-performing players or a coach who was neglecting his duty to periodically check-in during his understandable need to be absent from the team?

        So I guess that during Francona’s tenure when Massaroti, Felger, Shaughnessy, McAdams and the whole lot of ‘em repeatedly called for Francona to be more forthcoming, give them more insight, offer a more pointed opinion of a player’s performance, call out obviously under-performing players publicly . . . what they were really looking for was the rope to hang Francona with?

        I’m generally not influenced by the creative spin/personal opinions that reporters frame the substantive contents of their columns with. Most columns are like crab cakes, a few bits of crabby meat but mostly a whole lot of filler . . . most of which is detrimental to your health.

        And in the case of Valentine, while I don’t question whether or not many of the events you keep harping on actually occurred, I do question the relative substance of the complaints and criticisms that have been hurled unceasingly at him.

        I believe much of the anti-Valentine cacophony to be deflective, in nature, on the part of the players.

        In case you haven’t noticed . . . we’re still waiting for many key players in last seasons collapse to step-up and admit accountability, express genuine regret and demonstrate actual leadership. Some of them are now gone, but overall the window on that opportunity has essentially passed.

        The players performance on the field has been the problem – dreadful performance that preceded Valentine’s arrival.

        It is you that keep missing the point, my friend.

  6. hushbrother - Sep 5, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Approve.

  7. purplereign52 - Sep 5, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    moneyball……? please stop…the reason oakland was good those years was because of there pitching…..they had mulder hudson and zito…..all of them gave them a chance……..

    • dangle13x - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:02 PM

      . That’s 3 pitchers you monkey. Thanks for absolutely nothing you worthless piece of trash.

  8. purplereign52 - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    ok they also had aaron harang, cory lidle and ted lilly……not to mention they had billy koch….who was lights out…..thanks for being an idiot and embarassing yourself…..my point is….if they dont have great staring pitching they dont win no matter who u put in charge….look at the rays…..great pitching….the 04 sox…..great starting pitching…..the giants……yep….your an idiot

    • mazblast - Sep 5, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      If starting pitching was all there is to a pennant-winning team, the Braves would have won more than ONE World Series in the Nineties and early 2000s. “Pitching wins the short series” is BS; outscoring the other guys, whether 8-6 or 2-1, wins the short series.

      My theory, FWIW (which isn’t much), is that you can win without great starting pitching, but you can’t win without good starting pitching.

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