May 2, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington speaks with reporters prior to a game against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Worth the Wait: 2015 home-grown crop–Cherington’s “Next Great Red Sox Team”


It’s time for Red Sox fans to practice “delayed gratification.”  Instead of copying old “Yankee” model—annually recycling FA veterans to stay competitive every year–let’s give Ben Cherington, Lord of Discipline, some time—say a year, or, two—to build his “Next Great Red Sox Team”– a home-grown core of players that will be a contender for post season for a decade.

Let’s not be trapped in the illusory dualism of an “on/off” dialectic, thinking you either rebuild with a your own home-grown players, or you go shopping outside and sign FA’s and make trades.  The idiosyncrasies of team rosters require a more nuanced approach, such as a hybrid or composite model.

When referring to his “Next Great Red Sox Team,” Cherington likes to use the term “mosaic,” which may allude to the notion that the whole is more than the sum of just its parts.  The Yankee model has assumed that the team is only as good as some of it’s high-priced, veteran stars.

It is the difference between players who are “All One” or “all alone.”   The Yankee teams are not a home-grown garden; they sit on the bench like a disconnected row of potted plants.

When rabid fans are annually pressuring for a “Win Now” team, a ‘disciplined” GM must stay true to his inner compass and a rubric that moves the team toward being a viable contender, capable of annual post-season appearances with the occasional World Series trophy for a decade.

The years that progressively lead up to a contender are called “bridge” years; these are the building phase years.  Some fans interpret the word “bridge” to mean the team is not “going for it”—it is resigned to finishing out of the playoffs.  An effective GM, one with a solid plan, will ignore the fan expectations and stick with his program.

It would appear that Cherington is shifting gears away from the Epstein “Veteran Star Du Jour” Model—allowing fan expectation to send the team frantically adding long-term contracts to keep the Red Sox “going for it” every year and toward his “Next Great Red Sox Team” plan of patiently building a new core from home-grown talent.

Alas, future stars do not conveniently arrive as a complete team; so a GM is required to supplement the team with veterans on 2-3 year contracts, as a way of creating a bridge to the next “Decade” team.   Cherington uses the term “discipline” as a code word to say:  avoiding long-term, expensive contracts that are the result of performance anxiety; the result of the fear that there may be single season [or more!] Instead the team is taking the longer view to patiently build a new core for the long run.

So, we Sox fans need to take a breath and contemplate the possibility that, if we allow Cherington to meticulously build his “Next Great Red Sox Team” by starting with an in-house core and then supplementing, as required, with a veteran via FA buy or trade, we will reap the payoff –a Sox team that is a viable contender–capable of annual post-season appearances with the occasional World Series trophy– for a decade.

Consider the 2015 Red Sox on Opening Day, if they were purely a home-grown product; without spending a dime on Free Agents, or trading for veteran stars, this is what you would see:

C  Ryan Lavarnway

1b  Xander Bogaerts

2b  Dustin Pedroia

SS Deven  Marrero

3b  Will Middlebrooks

LF  Brandon Jacobs

CF Jackie Bradley

RF Juan Carlos Linares

DH  Brad Brentz

 

SP Allen Webster

SP  Matt Barnes

SP Clay Buchholz

SP Henry Owens

SP Drake Britton

CL  Rubby de la Rosa

 

RP Anthony Ranaudo

RP Brian Johnson

RP Miguel Celestino

RP Brandon Workman

 

BENCH

Jered Saltalmacchia [C/DH]

Blake Swihart [C]

Jose Iglesias [SS]

Jose Vinicio [SS]

 

Sean Coyle [2b]

Garin Cecchini [3b]

Kolbrin Vitek [3b]

That’s 26 roster slots and 14 to fill from the outside via FA and trades.

Could you wait 2-3 years for the arrival of this essentially home-grown, supplemented with veterans from other teams, the “Next Great Red Sox Team”—a team that will be competitive for a decade?

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Tags: "Next Great Red Sox Team" Ben Cherington Decade Discipline Home-grown Minor Leagues Prospects