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“What the Red Sox just did? Yeah, do that.”

Nov 4, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Jonny Gomes scores

Kevin Kernan’s column at the New York Post today is a treat. It praises the Red Sox’ approach and basically says “the Yankees and Mets need to do what the Red Sox just did if they want to win the World Series.”

Which, yes, I will agree 100% that if the Yankees and Mets want to win the World Series they SHOULD do what the Sox just did: they should win four World Series games before their World Series opponents do. That’s really the only way to do it.

Kernan, of course, is not saying that. He’s saying that they should sign “the right players.” Players who care about championships. Players like Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes. Not players like the Yankees signed who are just in it for the personal records and accolades. One he mentions by name is Kevin Youkilis. Let’s just forget that Kevin Youkilis has two World Series rings of his own. I’m sure he stopped caring about winning some time ago.

Kernan also says that RBIs is “the most important statistic” and that “spreadsheet baseball does not win championships.” Let’s just forget that the Red Sox front office is one of the most forward-thinking, sabermetrically-oriented front offices around. A front office that employs the man who literally coined the term “sabermetrics” in Bill James. I have no idea how significant James’ role is these days, but I would imagine that if a Red Sox employee said either of those things Kernan said every eyebrow in the office would raise.

Mostly, though, I love how certain Kernan is that “the Red Sox” approach is so easily replicable. He himself said back in February, when assessing the Sox’ prospects, that “Those 2004 and 2007 World Series titles seem so far away.” He didn’t know that Victorino and Gomes were “the right players” then. As such, to suggest that the Yankees or the Mets should have known better at the time is hindsight in the extreme.

All of the “do what the Red Sox” did analysis is. No one, except maybe the Red Sox themselves, thought they had put together a World Series team after last winter was over. They made signings that turned out better than most people expected them to be. They had good fortune as do all teams who win championships. It wasn’t a miracle season or even highly improbable as this was probably the best team on paper as the playoffs began. But nor was their 2013 season one that lends itself to blueprints and prescriptions of which teams like the Yankees and Mets should take notice.

Every teams’ situation is different. To look at the team that just had its victory parade two days ago and say “do it like THAT” is useless at best, and probably closer to the preposterous.

  1. chill1184 - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    I love when you troll the living cesspool that is the NY sports media, Craig. Thankfully Alderson doesn’t give a flying f%@k on what these mental midget think.

  2. aceshigh11 - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    A seriously foolish column.

    Is he actually suggesting Youkilis isn’t interested in winning? Before injuries took their toll, he was one of the hardest-working grinders in the league.

    It was a big risk to sign him considering how quickly his body was breaking down, but he definitely has the same “want to win” character as guys like Gomes and Victorino.

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      but he definitely has the same “want to win” character

      Dude, get with the times. We have a stat for that now: tWtW = the Will to Win. Coined I believe, by that great mind who goes by the name Hawk!

      I, however, got dibs on the HPB variant: tWtGH = the Will to Get Hit. Victorino excelled in that category this year.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      Aces, CC was being sarcastic about Youk.

  3. stex52 - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Content zero column, based on 20/20 hindsight.

    But there is one thing. I have finally found someone whose judgment I trust less than Hawk Harrelson’s.

    That is special.

    • cur68 - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      Whole thing is written with the benefit of hindsight, blinders on and smacks of wishcasting. The true irony here is that The Empire DID do what the Sox did: hired a bunch of filler players who wound up playing great for stretches. Injury and having to play so many much stronger teams in the division ultimately saw them fall just short but they were in it right to the bitter end of the season. Instead of writing this garbage, Kernan should be looking forward to the off season and shoring up a team which needs key pieces in order to get them over that hump. They need to get younger and less like a M*A*S*H unit, but with their payroll they should be able to do it. I wonder how long before the Yankees get all Cuban Happy?

    • Caught Looking - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      After more than a century of baseball, this guy figured out the method to winning the World Series.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    So, rely on a lot of guys who were hurt or ineffective last year, sign a catcher with a degenerative hip condition, sign an outfielder showing trends of decline (Victorino), sign a platoon outfielder with defense issues (Gomes) and a backup catcher. Oh, and trick the Dodgers into taking all of their bad contracts.

    Easy-peasy

    • paperlions - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      Also, have your pitchers that struggled the year before magically return to their previous All-Star form….and have your injury prone CFer stay healthy and productive all year, and have your SS coming off of an ankle injury (which Drew had 2 years ago) have a productive year, and have a 30 yr old journeyman OF have a career year….yep, easy as pie.

  5. deathmonkey41 - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    “Dominican MIlkshakes” also help.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Can we create a HardBallTalk for people who bring up steroids, no matter the topic? We can call it Sports Illustrated for People Other than Me.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        Whats the steroid equivalent to Godwin’s law?

      • indaburg - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        You know Godwin’s Law, right? This is baseball’s version. Baseball internet comment threads will eventually bring up steroids no matter how irrelevant or irrational it is to do so.

      • indaburg - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        (COPO, I didn’t see your comment, I swear. Dangit, you beat me to it.)

      • pastabelly - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        Frustrated Yankees fans.

    • Jack Marshall - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      Utter jerk.

  6. rickdobrydney - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Sox had a lot of guys who had near career years —– this will NOT happen again next year.

    • pastabelly - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Career years from Salty and Uehara (more of a break out year from Nava). The rest of them really didn’t have career years.

    • Jack Marshall - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      WHAT “career years?” What they had was a bunch of players who had off-years or were injured last season and who were mostly healthy. Uehara had a career year, and Salty. Carp and Victorino were better than expected. That’s hardly a fluke team.

  7. stoutfiles - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Kernan also says that RBIs is “the most important statistic”

    Yes, the RBI, which heavily relies on the people batting in front of you, is the most important statistic.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      Can you believe Rickey Henderson is in the hall of fame? I mean, the guy never once drove in 80 runs in a season! What a joke!

      It goes without saying that he should be replaced with Joe Carter…since RBIs are the most important stat and all.

  8. chip56 - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Only stat that matters is team wins. I don’t care what approach a GM uses to get there as long as the results are wins.

    Having said that – how happy are these “forward thinkers” that they have the Red Sox to look to? If not for them the A’s would still be the poster-children for how to build a team through advanced metrics and still wouldn’t have won a round in the playoffs. Forget for a minute how incredibly lucky Boston got in terms of health this year and in their ability to find a reliable closer (despite the fact that these same forward thinkers will tell you that the closer role is overrated)

    • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      If not for them the A’s would still be the poster-children for how to build a team through advanced metrics and still wouldn’t have won a round in the playoffs.

      The A’s lost the NLDS *6 times* by 3-2 margin, which has to be one of craziest statistical absurdities ever. It’s hardly as though they got trounced in those situations. ALso, a team that continually ranks near the bottom in payroll and makes the postseason regularly is a pretty damn fine example of how to build a team with advanced metrics if you ask me.

      • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        The A’s lost the NLDS

        …I of course mean ALDS here. Stupid brain.

      • chip56 - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        The A’s have done a fine job and, as Billy Beane will tell you, anything can happen in the playoffs. But by luck alone they should have been able to get into one ALCS by now.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      You know another team that openly embraces advanced metrics?

      The Cardinals.

      So please, continue to poo on sabermetrics after a World Series that featured two teams who openly embrace it. It makes you look like a delightfully silly person.

      Some John Mozeliak quotes:

      –”The [Bill] James book to me is almost more like baseball cards’ stats now. ”
      –”There is no perfect stat, but when you look at trying to define Wins Above Replacement, it is a very simple place to grab information and get a feel for it”
      –”Now we’re able to combine these advanced stats with the ability now to really create a model that gives us sort of recommendations on contracts, salary and length.”
      –”So when you think about how all organizations now are valuing certain things, what we do now is spend a lot of energy trying to determine what is being overvalued and then look at what is undervalued.”
      –” I will say where analytics do come into play is two places. One is the amateur draft. It has become a really important tool for the success of our operation. The other part that comes into play is determining promotions and demotions in minor league players ”
      –””I will say that when you look at collegiate players from an analytical standpoint, it is much easier to make projections versus high school stats. [High school stats are] really a lot of noise with no real clear answer,””

      • chip56 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        I didn’t say that advanced metrics don’t have a place in baseball. Just tired of them being talked about as the ONLY way to evaluate players and all other methods should go the way of the dinosaur.

        I think Buck Showalter had a great take on it saying that he believes that if you’re not using advanced stats then you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your team, but you can’t rely solely on them, that you do have to consider a player’s personality and intangibles when making determinations about how that player will fit on your team and on how you handle that player once he’s on your team.

        That players who think a manager is only looking at the stats and not at the player will eventually turn on the manager.

      • paperlions - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        No team has ever even approached the straw man that is a team relying solely on advanced metrics. Such a beast only exists in the imagination of those that rail against their use. The introduction of advanced analysis has only ever been applied as a different type of information to help in the decision making process and has never ever ever EVER been used or thought of as a replacement for scouts/scouting.

        As alluded to in the Moz quotes, analysis can help tell scouts what to look for, but it is still up to the scouts to find it and properly identify it. As the saying goes, you can’t scout the stat line.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        Allegedly Ricciardi was that way up in Toronto. But he’s the exception, not the rule.

  9. anxovies - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    If only he had given the Yankees the benefit of his insights before the beginning of the season. They could have: 1) pulled Granderson from those two at-bats where he was hit and broke his hand; 2) do the same for Nix, Cervelli, Nunez and Gardner; 3) told Mark Teixiera not to play in the WBC; 4) kept Jeter off the field until the All Star break so he could fully heal; 5) known that Youkilis was going to get injured immediately (maybe this one was foreseeable without Kernen); 6) told ARod to stay off the juice, etc., etc.

  10. chip56 - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    And, incidentally, didn’t the Red Sox use the same methods and insight in building last year’s disaster of a team? Amazing the difference that health makes.

  11. temporarilyexiled - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Hey Kevin, here’s a better idea: Start a new league for the two New York teams. They only play each other for the entire 162 games. No travel issues. One guaranteed winner for the metro every year. 50% of being that winner every year. Now…explain why this idea is any more ridiculous then the entirety of your column.

  12. j0esixpack - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    The problem the Yankees have is the problem with baseball in general.

    Guaranteed contracts mean that players don’t have to play for their money – and it also means that GMs and coaches are prone to keep playing the highly paid players when younger, hungrier players are more worthy of roster spots.

    That’s a much bigger problem for teams that over-spend like the Yankees – less of a problem for teams that can “afford” to give the best players the spots on the roster.

    Kindof odd that they would single out Youkillis who was injured – and certainly had no interest in rushing back to help a team that wasn’t going anywhere anyways. No one forced the Yankees to pay him $12 million.

  13. kinggator - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Do the Red Sox have to give the Dodgers a World Series ring? If not, they should anyway; because without LA taking on all those contracts at the end of last season Boston could not have turned it around. Go Rays!

    • pastabelly - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Wow, I cannot believe all of the thumbs down for this post. Maybe it was the Go Rays! at the end. Magic and the Dodgers bailed the Sox out of three bad contracts. Gonzalez wasn’t so much a bad contract as he was a bad fit. It’s the elimination of all of that payroll that gave Cherrington the room to go out and get players whom he believed would be better fits in Boston as a city and the Red Sox as a team.

      • Jack Marshall - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        Gonzalez was a bad contract AND a bad “fit.” He was supposed to be a 40-50 homer guy in Fenway, and his power never arrived. His OBA was way down in 2012 too. He’s a great offensive player, but not the greater player they thought they were getting, and his blase, “It’s in God’s hands” approach was as numbing as it gets. Awful fit; no intensity. Good riddance.

      • 18thstreet - Nov 4, 2013 at 8:51 PM

        The G-d’s hands comment, I think, has been misinterpreted. His religious beliefs are quite different from mine, but there are millions of people who believe that everything that happens is G-d’s will. Thus, the 2011 season was also G-d’s will. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. It means he believes in an all-powerful deity.

        I happen to think that it turned out to be a terrible contract, and not solely because of Gonzalez’s attitude. He’s not the player he was in San Diego. The Red Sox were VERY fortunate to get rid of him without — in the end — paying him all that much money (compared to some of the worst contracts, that is). The first year in Boston, he was still under his Padres contract — $5.5 million, I believe. Second year, he got $21 million. They’re sending $4 million a year to Los Angeles in 2013, 2014, and 2015, so that’s another $12 million (though some of that, surely, is because of Crawford and Beckett, but let’s count it all.

        So the Red Sox paid $38.5 million for 2011 and half of 2012. Yes, that’s a lot of money. But it’s less than (among others) Ryan Howard or Johann Santana. And it was only two years.

        I’ll never understand what the Dodgers were thinking, though. Never.

  14. butchhuskey - Nov 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    If character wins titles, wouldn’t the “Cardinal Way” have prevailed and St. Louis have won the Series?

    • chill1184 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      The Cardinal Way ™ (c) 2013 is only part of the long championship equation

      • butchhuskey - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        I see. Just wondering because some sportswriters made “The Cardinal Way” seem like the ultimate expression of selflessness on the baseball field.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 4, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      I don’t know. I hear the Rockies all get along really well. We should give them the Rings based on team chemistry.

      Or maybe chemistry is not really all that important.

  15. hep3 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    A sportswriter with 20-20 hindsight; who knew?

  16. thebadguyswon - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Kernan has been the epitome of lazy sports journalism for years.

  17. thebadguyswon - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    She makes that money giving it up to me on the side. I don’t even pay your mom.

  18. watermelon1 - Nov 4, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Yep. Typical Monday-morning quarterback taking the most overused “shots” at the most obvious targets. New York hater. And no, I don’t cheer for the Yankees or the mets.

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