The BSI staff has been tasked with replying to this question:
“What you would do were you in Ben Cherington’s shoes?”
A few days ago we posted “10 Key Questions for Cherington” and the annotated answers are here: http://bosoxinjection.com/2013/11/01/free-agents/
- Is Ellsbury worth $150 million for 6 years? NO
- Is much less expensive Jackie Bradley ready for “prime time” in CF as Ellsbury’s replacement? YES
- Do the Sox move Gold Glover Victorino to CF and sign a FA RF? YES
- Is Xander Bogaerts a SS or a 3b of the future? 3B/1B later in his career.
- Is Middlebrooks still the Sox 3b of the future? NO
- Is Stephen Drew needed at SS, if Bogaerts moves to 3rd? YES
- Is Mike Napoli, with his high K-rate the best option at 1b? YES, for a year or two.
- Will Salty ever develop his defense to be an adequate starter? NO. Good backup/ PH.
- Will Lavarnway ever develop his offense to be an adequate starter? YES; he’s smart.
- Should the Sox sign FA Brian McCann? YES, but he will want way too much.
After chiding the Red Sox Big Shots [Henry, Tom & Larry] to move toward more of a Billy Beane, Branch Rickey philosophy for almost two years, they finally got the fax at Yawkey Way and, after foolishly letting Larry play “GM” for a year and hire his pal Bobby V. to “shake-up the team,” John Henry finally gave Gentle Ben a chance to take the wheel.
Way back in February we posted: -
“Ben, finally– it’s your turn to drive, Cherington takes the wheel in Boston” [http://bosoxinjection.com/2013/02/22/ben-finally-its-your-turn-to-drive-cherington-takes-the-wheel-in-boston/]
Just as the 2013 season was starting we wrote: -
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON: Finally in charge, Architect of the “Next Great Red Sox Team” [http://bosoxinjection.com/2013/05/13/youre-ben-cherington-finally-in-charge-architect-of-the-next-great-red-sox-team/] and said:
“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.”
Finally, it’s your turn to drive the car, Ben. Last summer, while you were learning to drive, Uncle Larry kept grabbing the wheel, until he crashed the car. Dad promised that from now on Uncle Larry, that old know-it-all, will go back to his real job, running the Red & Pink Trinket Shop across the street from Fenway–it’s your car, at last!
After the Valentine’s Season Massacre, the last place finish, Ben had the advantage of lowered expectations for 2013; some people were willing to call it a “bridge year,” but only Ben could make it a ‘Bridge to Somewhere.’
He cleared out the cry babies with long contracts and spent the money wisely on FAs, who fit the Old School Red Sox model: Victorino, Gomes, Napoli and Carp. Most likely he was as surprised and delighted as any Sox fan that the team “jelled” and ran the table to the Commissioner’s Trophy presentation.
But, the real story is that he is using the farm system, the one that he “grew,” to build what he called “The Next Great Red Sox Team.” This team would be built on a foundation of homegrown talent, supplemented with prudently selected “second tier” FAs on short contracts and would compete for the AL East for a decade or more.
In August we congratulated Ben Cherington and suggested that he was the MLB Executive of The Year and we projected the roster for his “Next Great Red Sox Team” and we said:
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and your prudent trades have now reassured Sox fans that you will not mortgage the future; you will not be tempted with splashy FA signings; you will have the discipline to stay on course to your future, your personal legacy—the “Next Great Red Sox Team.”
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and, as you privately check the longitude of your receding hairline, you daydream about your All-Homegrown Red Sox team roster:
C Blake Swihart [maybe Lavarnway, if he can hit.]
1b/DH Xander Bogaerts
2b Dustin Pedroia
SS Deven Marrero
3b Will Middlebrooks
LF Garin Cecchini
CF Jackie Bradley
RF Brad Brentz
DH/1b Travis Shaw
SP Allen Webster
SP Matt Barnes
SP Jon Lester
SP Clay Buchholz
SP Drake Britton
CL Rubby de la Rosa
RP Anthony Ranaudo, RP Brian Johnson, RP Miguel Celestino, RP Brandon Workman
Christian Vazquez [C]
And you smile a disciplined smile and you think: “That’s 21 roster slots and just a few to fill from the outside via FA and trades.”