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YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON: Finally in charge, Architect of the “Next Great Red Sox Team”

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and, now that the Bobby & Larry Circus has left town, you are able to function as a real General Manager.

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you pulled off the biggest heist in franchise history, dumping Cry Baby Beckett, DL Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez and their outrageous salaries on the Dodgers, who were not improving the team so much as obtaining stars for their cable programming.

[SEE: “Ben, finally– it’s your turn to drive, Cherington takes the wheel in Boston,” Feb 22nd, 2013]

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you stole Alan Webster, who looks like a solid #3 and maybe #2 rotation starter and, if he can bounce back after TJ surgery and, if Rubby [RU-BEE] de la Rosa [RHP] develops consistent command and control you have committed Grand Theft Pedro.

Although in his short career in MLB did not impress the Dodgers:  4-5, 1.82 K/W ratio, 1.42 WHIP, his ceiling could be as high as the “Next Pedro Martinez,” who the Dodgers traded away to the Montreal Expos in 1994, who then dealt him to the Red Sox in 1998, where in 1,383.2 innings he won 117 and lost just 37 for a .760 W% and miniscule ERA of 2.52 in his 7-year stint.

Baseball America projects Rubby [RU-BEE] de la Rosaas as the closer for your “Next Great Red Sox Team,” one that will be essentially home-grown, supplemented with veterans from other teams, and will be competitive for the next decade.

If you decide to put the “X-Man” at 1b, imagine this All-Homegrown Red Sox team taking the field at Fenway in 2014-2015:

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 Jon Lester

SP Clay Buchholz

SP Drake Britton

CL Rubby “Dobby” de la Rosa

RP Anthony Ranaudo, RP Brian Johnson, RP Miguel Celestino, RP Brandon Workman

BENCH

Jered Saltalmacchia [C/DH], Blake Swihart [C]

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

But…there always seems to be a but with any “perfect” plan.

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and your future CF, the one Earl Nash calls “the Other Jackie,” may be precociously prepared to start for this year’s team.

Every time one of the OFs on the current roster gets injured, there is a chorus of “office chair GMs” and radio call-in hosts who want you to bring Jackie up from the minors to start his MLB career.

Then the pundits and experts chime in with the old chestnut:  bring him up too early and you will ruin his confidence and his career.  And, there’s the “He can’t get the ABs he needs sitting on the bench with the Red Sox.”

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and this is the happiest “problem” you have faced in you short career as Boston’s GM, but you must decide what to do with Jackie Bradley.

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you were confident that the team that you cobbled together for 2013 would, at least, be “competitive” maybe even have a shot at the Wild Card slot. You may tell the media that you knew this team had a real chance to finish first in the AL East, but, over dinner with your wife, you say that you even surprised yourself with their success.

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you have avoided Larry, but you have talked about Bradley with your manager John Farrell; he’s a guy you know and you respect his analysis. You have also consulted with Mike Hazen, Brian O’Halloran, Allard Baird, Dave Finley, Ed Bane, and Jared Banner.

You are willing to take the risk and responsibility to push the “ICE” or “NO ICE” button, but you are prudent, some might say “cautious,” but you would use the term “disciplined,” when making a big decision.  You will take the time to hear out everyone’s analysis to work toward a general consensus.

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and today you have a general outline of how you will proceed with Jackie Bradley.

You are personally committed to you signature program, the “Next Great Red Sox Team” and your personal stamp is that it will be essentially a home-grown team and will be competitive for the next decade, or longer.

You are also personally committed to Jackie Bradley as the superstar player that you developed and you want to be in the front row, smiling [but not gloating] as he makes his Hall of Fame induction speech.

You know that, as of May 8th, Jackie will have been in the minor leagues for 20 days this season, which ensures that he will not become a free agent after 2018.

If the currently over-achieving “1967 Impossible Dream v.2  Team”  needs a “spark” during the last weeks of this season, you would consider bringing Jackie up to The Show; you would also want to place him on your Post-season Playoffs roster.

After a full season of ABs in the minors, Jackie will be primed to bring his five tools to the Red Sox late in 2013 and you trust Farrell to use Bradley appropriately; put Jackie into situations that will maximize his chances to succeed.

Imagine:

  • Gomes has hit a double and is standing, gasping for air on second.  You need this run to win the final game of this playoff round; so, Farrell sends Bradley out to run for Gasping Gomes.
  • Gomes is having a rough day at the plate; it’s the top of the 9th in a tie game and the Rays have RHP Joel Peralta on the bump.  Gomes is barely batting .200 career against righties and has below average speed. Farrell send  left-batting Jackie to pinch hit; if he gets a walk or a single, he will likely move into scoring position with a steal.
  • Ellsbury, just as you were in the final stages of a deal to trade him, has had to beg off playing with a minor injury.  The Rays are starting RHP Roberto Hernandez, so Farrell starts Jackie in CF.

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you have arrived at a disciplined plan for how to handle your future Franchise player:

Bradley stays in the minors until late in the season.

If the Sox are out of the Post-season hunt, he gets a September call-up and starts in the OF.

If the Sox are in the hunt, he gets put on the Playoff roster and you trust Farrell to plug him in appropriately.

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and your “Bridge to Nowhere” team for 2013 is making a run for Post-season, the prospects for an all homegrown “Next Great Red Sox Team” are blossoming, you have made your decision about your future Hall of Fame outfielder, Jackie Bradley.

YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and, with the door closed, looking out the window of your ancient office, the pathetic fallacy of literature provides nothing but blue skies–as far as you can see.

Willie Nelson is crooning on the glial stage of your Primary auditory cortex:

Blue skies smilin’ at me…Nothin’ but blue skies do I see…

Blue days, all of them gone… Nothin’ but blue skies from now on…

All alone, you allow yourself to ignore discipline and savor the sin of salaciously, secretly–gloating.

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Topics: Ben Cherington, Jackie Bradley Jr., Larry Lucchino

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  • John Fahrer

    Putting Bogaerts at 1B would be a waste of athleticism. Middlebrooks isn’t exactly Brooks Robinson at the position. How about moving him to 1B and Bogaerts to 3B?

    Could also wind up being Garin Cecchini taking over at 3B, Middlebrooks shifting to 1B, and Bogaerts either remaining at SS or moving to LF. Brandon Jacobs and JC Linares look like career minor leaguers and age is a big factor for the latter. Brentz has an arm they might want to utilize in RF on most days. Victorino will still be in town come 2015 unless they trade him.

    Britton projects more as a reliever while Ranaudo projects as a second or third starter.

    The catching situation will be interesting. Saltalamacchia’s a FA after this season and Lavarnway has yet to prove he can hit and defend well enough to justify a starting role. Swihart is doing pretty steady in High A on both ends (38% CS%) and five triples and .353 OBP. Probably makes his MLB debut at some point in 2015.

    • Willy W

      Well said John & I agree with all of your assessments. Though the Sox have been Stubborn about Not wanting to move Bogaerts from SS, I do agree he may be better off at another position & since we have no Solid/ long term solution for LF I thought Boggy may fit well there and his power potential may play well there. I would think Bradley Jr may be able to nail down CF for years to come( assuming he gets over his MLB struggles & pulls himself back together ok), and I would keep Brentz for our future Power hitting RF’r.

      Salty is a Goner IMO & just not good enough & he never will be IMO. Swihart is a tough one to figure out but not as tough as Lavarnway. The “Big L” as I like to call him has been as up & down as a Roller Coaster & its a bit maddening, so Im not sure if any of these C- ‘s are the real “Answer” of the future. It would behoove Ben to add more Quality Depth at this position as well as 1st Base & possibly 3rd.

      As for the Pitchers the article writer mentioned. Though I have been 1 of few that sees Rubby as being a more effective Reliever/Closer than a Starter he still remains a huge Question mark. Webster has alot of potential but as we’ve all seen lately maybe we should be pumping the breaks a little bit & we/they should Stop trying to rush him. As for Barnes, the expectation is for him to at least be a #2 pitcher but I dont know… and IMO he may take longer to mature…then what most people think. Owens is actually improving at a much greater rate than Barnes.
      I think its a huge stretch for the writer to type in Lester’s name, who knows if he’s here beyond next year, age & his overall performances/stats will play a huge factor in whether he is retained.

      Depending on who we do end up with for pitchers, adding in all the talent we’ve mentioned at the OF & IF positions, by 2015 we could have a perrenial 1st place/ play off team that could do some real damage. I look forward to that.

      • John Fahrer

        The biggest reason for many viewing DeLaRosa as a reliever than a starter has a lot to do with the fact that there’s only so many spots for so many guys. DeLaRosa, Webster, Ranaudo, Barnes, and Owens are the top five pitching prospects in the system. Buchholz is slated to be on the team come 2015 barring an injury or trade. Lester’s 50-50. If he stays, there’s only three spots to fill. If he walks, there’s four. One of the five will likely be odd man out down the road. With DeLaRosa’s velocity, it could be best used in shorter stints.

        We can’t forget about other potential moves these next couple seasons, including 2013. If they could pick up a guy like Cliff Lee for a package that could overwhelm the Phils, but not include any of our untouchables (Webster, Ranaudo, DeLaRosa, Barnes, Owens, Brentz, Cecchini, Bradley, Bogaerts, Swihart), it could be worth it. Lee’s salary is definitely steep. But with the money coming off the books these next couple of seasons, plus no real big arbitration cases or FA signings, they can afford the remaining 2-3 years of Lee.

        I think a package of Doubront, Keury DeLaCruz, Sean Coyle (successor to Utley), and 2/3 of Lavarnway/Britton/Workman and a PTBNL (Kalish?) could get it done.

        • Willy W

          I agree John, well said. I have been thinking in those same terms & have been hoping Ben does too but I have yet to see any indication ( unfortuantely) that he’s a great “Forward” thinker. He can evaluate talent pretty well, though not always but then again who is ever 100%? But can he think Forward enough to make the types of moves we’ve talked about? Im not so sure.

          Its funny you mentioned Cliff Lee, as this past winter I wanted them to acquire him & felt as though the back half of our Starting rotation, never mind the uncertainty of the top 2 ( who have been a pleasant suprise thus far) was/is so weak that we needed a #1, no less than a #2 starter, which Lee would be. The Money I dont care about & considering how Ben overspent, threw outrageous amounts of dough at less than stellar players, we can take on Lee’s contract & not worry about it.
          Now I would have preferred a King Felix over Lee but Seattle was all set to sign him long term & have since done so. The Only other guy Ive had interest in But is a huge injury risk is Garza( as a #2 to #3 Starter). I also had some interest in Johnson ( as a #3 Starter) who went to Toronto & is once again injured, ugh.

          As for the package, you may be right. I had a list of Phillies needs/ probable “Wants” but I have since pitched it since the trade never happened. Also, there were rumors this past winter that Ben did indeed try to acquire Lee & offered Ellsbury & only Ellsbury( this of course was offered before they acquired Revere) . IF these rumors have any truth to them then that just proves how Ben overvalues his own players & doesnt understand the true value of a top/ #1 pitcher like Lee.
          Given we dont have a pitching prospect that is said to be a clear cut #1( Barnes being the closest), the issues Lester & Buchholz have had over the past year plus, tells me we need to acquire another top pitcher if we want to be a perrenial 1st place/ Playoff contending team.

          • John Fahrer

            The trade with the Dodgers seemed to be a decent example of forward thinking. We were going nowhere with those albatross deals, the Dodgers offered a fancy lifeboat of two nice pitching prospects and a few throw-ins, we pounced on it.

            His FA signings were definitely high. But $13 million a year for three years (Victorino) isn’t $20+ million for seven years (Crawford). Ironically Victorino has basically been something close to what we originally thought Crawford would be (big part of it has to do with having experience in a big market with a locked-in fan base while Crawford played in front of empty seats for most of his career). Gomes is definitely making too much, but it was better than overpaying for Ross. Granted Ross is doing pretty good in Arizona, career-wise he and Gomes are pretty similar in production. Cherington did a good job in decreasing the Napoli deal after the news of his hip came in. So this overpaying to get a guy to sign a shorter deal isn’t a terrible approach.

            Don’t want Felix now. By the time the M’s will think of moving him (if they ever do), there’ll be way too many innings on that arm (already over 1600). Garza’s a decent middle of the rotation arm, but not an ace. Johnson’s good when healthy which is rare. Lee’s still pitching like an ace and I’d bet he will continue to do so. It should be noted that he’s two or three years younger than Schilling was when we first picked him up.

          • Willy W

            I agree with everything you said. The only thing I will say with regard to the Dodger trade, IMO Ben was Forced to make that trade & got extremely lucky to get back what he got considering the amount of money LA absorbed. The only problem I have is Ben then did 2 things that I wasnt thrilled with, 1. He traded away 1-2 players from that trade to acquire Hanrahan that Id like to have back. 2. He used too much of the money on some of the players we talked about & didnt bring in a #1 pitcher or a long term CornerStone player.
            This past Winter, as I said, I wanted to acquire Lee & I was also upset we didnt make a bigger push to acquire Myers. If not Myers then lets have some serious talks with the Marlins about Stanton. That 1 CornerStone player, that 1 Big bat, that 1 Ace Pitcher… that can make a big difference in the long run.

          • John Fahrer

            As far as the guys we gave up to Hanrahan go: Pimentel’s stock had dropped so much and he seems to be benefiting most from the change of scenery. Ditto Mark Melancon who already had a good track record in the NL Central.

            As far as not getting a #1 last offseason: Just a hard thing to do when coming off a last place finish. Aces like to go where the opportunity to win is more in place. Boston didn’t appear to be that over the winter. He did get a reliable arm in Dempster though who’s been pretty decent.

            Myers? I live in Omaha and watch the Royals AAA affiliate. The LF wall there is a very short porch. The PCL is very hitter-friendly and Myers isn’t an athletic freak like a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper but rather a power-hitting corner outfielder who won’t be too fast on the basepaths and will strike out quite a bit. He wasn’t worth giving up an established big league arm like Jon Lester.

            Stanton? Just don’t see the need to drain the farm to fill in area where there’s really no significant hole. Gomes and Victorino are both back next year and the latter will be there for 2015. Then you have Bradley and Brentz potentially occupying two spots in the near future. They might need that third spot for Bogaerts. Plus who’s to say Stanton’s not a creature of a low-pressure environment like Crawford and/or Gonzalez?

          • Willy W

            Im looking for that next CornerStone bat/player thats why I mention Myers & Stanton. Thanks for your insight with regard to Myers. I have no way of knowing whether Stanton could handle Boston but I enjoy his game.

            I cant stand Gomes & would only have signed him as a Bench player, if at all. Victorino I would never have signed for that kind of money, I also would only have signed him for 1-2 years, not 3. Love his glove/arm but I worry about other parts of his game deteriorating.

            As for the Hanrahan trade, I was referring a little about Melancon, seeing as we are down so many relievers presently but more so Sands. He may end up being a career AAAA player but he added depth at 1st base & perhaps better depth then what we have now. The jury is still out on that 1 I think.
            I wasnt sorry to see Stolmy get traded at all, he did nothing for me. I was ok with the trade when it happened, as I saw “the Hammer” as another solid addition but clearly he was Never healthy & the trade now looks lik a total waste, hind sight is 20/20 I guess.

          • John Fahrer

            Gomes pretty much is a platoon player. In actuality, Ross was actually signed with the intention to platoon in RF with Sweeney. But then Crawford went down. $5 million a year for two seasons is steep, but not crippling.

            They probably would’ve loved to have gotten Victorino for two years. But he was the guy they had their sights set on and there was another suitor (Indians) offering four years.
            So something had to give.

            The best thing about both signings (and the offseason period) is that Cherington did a good job holding onto his draft picks. I’m happy with who we got especially when you compare to how guys like LaRoche and Hamilton are currently doing.

          • Willy W

            Agreed. Im not sure I believe in that Indians rumor as I know what their payroll was & I also know they had their eye on Swisher the whole time. Bad part for the Indians was they didnt have alot of $$ but needed a whole new Outfield, Yikes! That explains why their pitching is so bad, LOL.

          • John Fahrer

            I remember mlbtraderumors saying it was down to the Indians and Red Sox with Cleveland offering four years. I’m sure they had their eye on Swisher all along too. But remember, they also signed Michael Bourne to play CF. There were two vacancies to fill. They ended up having to give up two draft picks instead of one.

          • Willy W

            Yeah, Cleveland may have screwed themselves for many years to come by losing those draft picks.

          • John Fahrer

            And more so for who they gave up those picks for. Swisher’s solid, but more in a complementary sense than a heart-of-the-order threat. Bourne’s okay but once again probably doesn’t justify sacrificing a draft pick for.

          • Willy W

            I agree 100%. I like Bourn but you have to be careful with “Speed” guys once they pass 30yrs old. So what do you think about Ells? I say let him go, if possible get the pick but I dont want to go crazy trying to get him back.

          • John Fahrer

            I say let Ells go too. Very good 08 and 09 seasons. Injury plagued 2010 and 2012 sandwiching a stellar 2011. So far this year, he’s been okay. Just don’t want to invest long-term into a guy who’s played the second-most grueling job in baseball (after catching): leading off and playing CF who’s had two injury-plagued seasons.

            They signed Bradley at a lucrative bonus and Ellsbury would roadblock him. If Bradley happens to need a little more time in the minors to start off 2014, they still have Victorino. Let Ells go.

          • Willy W

            I completely agree. I must say Ive never agreed with someone so much in my life, LOL. Except my wife & thats just to save myself from getting clubbed off the head, LOL.

          • Willy W

            By the way John, are you on Twitter at all?

          • John Fahrer

            Sort of. I have a twitter account, but you’ll see more postings from me at this site (I wrote the recap from yesterday’s game) than on twitter. It’s @JLFCASH if you’d like to follow.

          • Willy W

            Gotcha. I am also on Twitter under @WillysTeam.

      • John Fahrer

        I feel more confident about Bradley putting it all together eventually than Lavarnway. In the case of Bradley, we had a guy who had a hot ST but very limited appearances at the upper levels. With Lavarnway, we see a guy who looks more like a “quadruple-A” hitter who’s a defensive liability. My prediction for the long-term catcher-wise is Swihart and Vazquez. But I think for 2014 it’ll either be Saltalamacchia (re-sign for 2 or 3 years) or a different FA (Brian McCann?) and Ross backing up for the last year of his deal.

        • Willy W

          I agree with your assessment of our Catchers. I find it very sad… that there arent alot of good to great Catchers anymore, seems no one wants to play the position. Either that or their being shifted away from Catching & we’re seeing them play a different position & forgetting they were once a Catching prospect…

          • John Fahrer

            True. You can count on one hand the guys who are the complete package as catchers: Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Matt Weiters, and Joe Mauer to an extent. In the case of Mauer and Weiters, they can have an occasional day we’re they’re in the lineup but not catching.

            Another aspect that comes into play: Is the guy’s bat too valuable to risk decline due to the toll catching plays on the body? Craig Biggio had to move off of the position and Mauer would’ve likely done it had it not been for being on an AL team. There’s a possibility of Swihart doing it since his athleticism is receiving rave reviews.

          • Willy W

            I agree about Catchers.

  • Zappo15

    Bull

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