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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington: “I didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense”

Jul 17, 2014, 11:19 AM EST

Ben Cherington AP

It’s been less than nine months since the Red Sox hoisted the World Series trophy and less than eight months since general manager Ben Cherington won the Executive of the Year award, but with the team sitting at 43-52 he’s already started to apologize for this year’s product.

Appearing on WEEI radio in Boston this morning, Cherington admitted that “I didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense” and also said of the Red Sox’s last-ranked lineup:

I think obviously our biggest issue, at least up until very recently, has been offensive production. I think our pitching has been good enough to win, we just haven’t produced offensively. It certainly wasn’t our intent. We thought we would have that, we thought we had reason to believe that we could have that going into the year, but the reality is that we have not through a big chunk of the first part of the season. That has hamstrung our ability to win games.

Last season Boston led all of baseball in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and runs scored. This season the Red Sox rank ninth in on-base percentage, 27th in slugging percentage, and 25th in runs per game.

As far as big changes from 2013 to 2014? Well, replacing Jarrod Saltalamacchia with A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate worked out horribly, leading to Pierzynski getting released. Stephen Drew sat out the first two months and has been a mess since taking back over at shortstop. Shane Victorino has been hurt. Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. struggled to step into Jacoby Ellsbury‘s big shoes in center field. And stars Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz (plus fellow holdovers Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava) have seen their production plummet.

Cherington got a ton of the credit last season, so it’s good to see his willingness to take on lots of the blame this year, but even with some better offseason decision-making from the front office injuries and off-years seemed destined to derailed the Red Sox’s offensive train no matter what.

  1. dondada10 - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Ortiz isn’t having an all-world season by any means but it’s hard to say 20 homers and a .855 OPS is “plummeted.”

    • Joe - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:49 AM

      Actually it’s pretty easy to say if you consider context.

      Last year he was hitting 317/402/606 (178 OPS+) with 19 homers
      This year he is hitting 255/357/487 (133 OPS+) with 20 homers

      Other than homers, that’s a pretty big dropoff. “Plummet” works for me.

      • jrob23 - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        true. But when the table setters aren’t on and he sees crap pitches and puts pressure on himself to provide offense it’s normal that his production would be down. Also, as it heats up in Boston so won’t the bats. It’s like this every season. Woe is me and then they dominate July/August/September and make a huge run. Why people keep saying the same things every year is baffling.

      • Joe - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        For what it’s worth, Ortiz hit 299/387/511 after it heated up in Boston last summer, Which is actually quite a bit closer to what he’s done this year than what he did in the first half last year. Presumably the table was still being set for him at that time.

        Actually, his RBI rate would come out to 95 in 137 games (# he played last year), vs. 103 last season. That’s pretty close!

        The problem is his batting average on balls in play, which is .253 vs. .321 last year. Could be unlucky. Could be that the shift is being more effective in putting the defense where Papi hits them. His ratios (K%, LD%, etc.) are pretty similar, though more fly balls this year. So maybe a bit of a bounce is warranted.

        Maybe the lack of baserunners allows the defense more opportunities to position themselves better. Last year Papi had a 1.013 OPS with runners on vs. .894 with bases empty. This year it’s .938 (-.075) with runners on and .753 (-.141) with bases empty. And he’s had 50% of his PAs with bases empty vs. 45% last year.

        So I’d say that the lack of base runners is part of the problem, because he clearly hits better with runners on. But he’s hitting worse regardless of the situation.

  2. pisano - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    The stars aligned for them in 2013, reality set in this year. They had guys having career years, and they seemed to rise to every occasion. for example Gomes was one, but the magic is over. Knowing the Red Sox, they won’t be down for long.

    • Glenn - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      I’ve often repeated here, there was nothing lucky about last year’s Sox (beyond breaks needed once in the playoffs, which is true for any WS winning team). Who had a career year? Only Nava (platooning) really. Victorino was above his average but not much. By every metric, their W-L record was where it would be expected to be. They just didn’t have any major injuries. It’s not like they were the 2012 Orioles or anything.

      • accipiterq - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Nava had a career year, Ortiz had a great year, but not a career year. Jacoby went bonkers. Clay was flipping amazing before he got hurt. Lackey bounced back to be better than he had been in about 5 years. Victorino played above his abilities at this point in his career. There were tons of guys that played WAY above where they had been in the last couple seasons.

  3. natstowngreg - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    But it HAS to be Theo’s fault, doesn’t it?

    • moogro - Jul 17, 2014 at 9:12 PM

      Beckett’s.

  4. irishlad19 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Last season was one of over-performance for much of the team, this year is under-performance. Last year was to be a “bridge” year, but it came this year.
    What Cherington should get credit for is not hobbling the team with expensive long-term contracts for fading veterans, and building a minor league roster with both replacement players and trade bait.

  5. gigab0t - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    “I think our pitching has been good enough to win”

    Not with Jake Peavy it hasn’t

    • DavieO - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      Peavy has 12 starts this season where he pitched at least 6 innings and gave up 3 earned runs or less, with some offense he is at least .500.

      • drewsylvania - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:11 PM

        A 4.50 ERA sucks in today’s offense.

  6. stex52 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Not to be piling on. But while we are at it, Napoli’s power output is down, and he has already missed about the same number of games this year as he did all of last year.

    And in retrospect, the idea that Middlebrooks – a mediocre fielder – could bat his way out of a paper bag has proven to be ill-informed at best.

    And while this isn’t offense, Buchholz last year and this year is night and day.

    I think it has been commented quite a bit here that everything broke well for the Sox last year. Nothing wrong with that. But perhaps there was too much optimism in the FO that things would continue to break that way.

  7. drewzducks - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    While I appreciate his candidness, it’s times like this that I miss the always quotable Lou Gorman with such classics as “Where would we play Willie McGee” and my all-time favorite when speaking of the concern that the Sox may have difficulty signing Roger Clemens to an extension early in his career, “the sun will rise, the sun will set, and I’ll have lunch”.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 19, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      I also liked the time he said, “All you want for Larry Anderson is our AA third baseman? Deal! As long as we get to keep Scott Cooper.”

  8. ejannetta - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    The offense stinks because the Red Sox have too many players who aren’t that good. Jonny Gomes, Jackie Bradley, David Ross, Mike Carp, Drew and the list goes on and on….most of these guys wouldn’t be playing on another ball club.

    • drewsylvania - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:13 PM

      This is foolishness. You don’t take one lousy year as evidence a player stinks. Well, you shouldn’t.

  9. gatorprof - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Ellsbury’s departure hurt them the worst. Anytime you have a guy leading the league in SB with 50+ batting around .300 and OPS of .350, it helps everyone how comes behind him. The pitcher is rattled when he is on base and can’t focus on the hitter. Jacoby is a very disruptive player when he is on his game.

    The Red Sox do not have anyone is close to being the disruptive force Ellsbury is on the base paths.

    • playball - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      Granted he just came up, but I’m thinking Mookie could fill those shoes.

  10. bigmeechy74 - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    Why do people think Stephen Drew is good? It seems like people have been touting this guy as a really good player for years except there is one problem… he isn’t. You move Boegarts off of SS to make room for drew? Why?

    • accipiterq - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      COMPLETELY baffled by that one as well. He wasn’t very good last year. His fielding is above average. You need to move Boegarts out of position to play him…yet so many people hailed his return as some big deal….why on EARTH anyone other than a band-wagoner would think that is beyond me.

      • bigmeechy74 - Jul 17, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        I’m glad you agree. I thought I was the only one that didn’t think he was that great

    • drewsylvania - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      111 OPS+ with good defense wasn’t good?

      Tough crowd.

  11. bobsnygiants - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    should of said that 6 mos. ago

    • 18thstreet - Jul 19, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      Yes, right after winning the World Series, he should have admitted that he’s a failure.

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