As the future of the 2011 Boston Red Sox continues to fade, it is only natural for those of us interested in the team to speculate on what went wrong and how it could have been prevented. The 2010 season was filled with injuries, seemingly anonymous replacement players, and was marred with a sour taste at its inception by Epstein claiming the now infamous “Bridge Year”.
The 2010-11 offseason for Boston built a sense of excitement and a publicity campaign of being “all-in” centering around the trade and subsequent extention of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The former has graciously put up 200 hits and lead the league in batting average. Crawford… I’m too lazy right now to look up just how awful his numbers have been and contextualize them with much cheaper, easily-acquired players; perhaps in a future post…
Right now here is a list of recent missteps by Epstein. In fairness, one can only expect the GM to make the best decision with the available information at the time. If they fail to do this, then they are incompetent. Otherwise, they are simply unlucky. A countdown, from benign oversight to boneheaded foulup…
5. Adrian Gonzalez
I must be a fool to hate on a player that leads the league in batting average and puts up 200 hits. While that certainly is what you’d hope for from a hitter, the problem is that Epstein let himself get giddy.
– The spray charts from Petco Park overlapped onto Fenway promised 35-50 home runs a year; this did not happen
-Epstein both traded three of the most promising prospects in the farm system and subsequently signed the player to a deal in excess of six years and $100 million. When this upcoming offseason features Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and it would have had Gonzalez, Epstein effectively paid full price twice when two other viable options were possibly available. Further, to avoid looking foolish, a gentlemen’s agreement was reached for the extension before the player had regained the use of his shoulder, so Epstein would not have traded away so many pieces for a rental. What keeps this from being higher on the list is the actual production and the fact that all three prospects are still plausibly busts. Now Epstein may also be stuck with an aging player in five years with a prohibitive contract, much like our friend….
4. Carl Crawford
This didn’t make sense at the time and it really doesn’t make that much sense now. To sign a player to such a long-term, expensive deal and stick him is the smallest portion of the outfield when his bread and butter is his speed seems foolish. Crawford was supposed to team with Ellsbury to steal bases, the only problem is Crawford getting on base to begin with. However, there may be some hope of Crawford providing some insurance in case Ellsbury walks in free agency, and/or Ellsbury comes crashing back to earth after a career year. At the moment, this isn’t a good deal. However, it may prove itself useful in the future, something we hope can be said for the next fellow,
3. Clay Buchholz
After an early career no-hitter, a disastrous bouncing around between the majors and minors, and then seeming redemption from 2009 to his spectacular 2010, Buchholz missed a great deal of time in 2011 due to back trouble while I and the collective fanbase hold our breath. Can he bounce back once again next year?
Better yet, this should be Toronto’s problem right now. In 2009, if I am not mistaken, new Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos faced with some terrible problems, chiefly: ace Roy Halladay was all but leaving in free agency, and it was best to get maximum value out of a trade.
I recall reading rumors that Buchholz was supposed to be the centerpiece of the trade, but the deal fell through due to bickering over the other parts and the fan backlash of trading within the division.
However, I’ve begun to wonder recently… AA was roundly heralded for trading Vernon Wells, an outfielder with a horrible contract, for anything worthwhile. As it turns out, Wells now plays for the Jays and that contract is off AA’s books. Did Epstein offer to take on the Wells contract to sweeten the deal? It’s a bad contract, but so is…
2. Jon Lackey
How bad? Historically bad. His ERA is the worst of any Red Sox pitcher. Ever. OK, maybe not ever, but in the past hundred years- look it up. They are paying him $82 million for five years. Roy Halladay could be in his place. Granted Wells would be the left fielder or fourth outfielder, but Halladay is worth it.
Besides, to compensate, there was this rib-kicker, the trade that never should have happened…
1. Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone to Cleveland for Victor Martinez
This literally would not have cost a dime. It would save quite a few, actually. It would also, when coupled with the prior post, put up a rotation of:
That’s right, no Bedard, no Kyle Weiland, no Lackey. That rotation would have survived this stretch far better than the current mess. Admittedly, Buchholz and Matsuzaka would still miss the bulk of the season. Despite this, Halladay and Masterson would have eaten innings admirably, and Wake/Miller/Aceves would take turns as long-relief and spot starters. The bullpen would be much better rested. Payroll would roughly be the same, since the money for Lackey would presumably go to Halladay (whose contract ends sooner) and Bedard/Crawford are not being paid as a result.
Instead, I now root for the Giants to make the playoffs, and the Phillies if they fail. Cliff Lee, I still thank you on behalf of all of Boston baseball.