Still inebriated by the World Series win by the “Surprising Sox,” some fans [and writers] are now calling for GM Ben Cherington to sign a high-profile FA, or make a blockbuster trade and lock the team into another Carl Crawford Disaster.
"To them we say: trust Ben and STFU."
When the 2013 season started most pundits had the Sox finishing last in the AL East; I was the one who explained how they would win the AL East division.
With the Dodger Deal, Cherington recast the team approach and, by supplementing his roster with mid-level FAs, he brilliantly took the “Bridge to Nowhere” team to the World Series.
LISTEN: Ben Cherington has a plan for his “Next Great Red Sox Team”—a team that will have a core of homegrown players, supplemented by prudent, second-tier, FAs and an occasional “non-blockbuster” trade to fill a specific need.
If Sox fans can come down from their World Series’ high, they will realize that paying a ton of money on a long-term contract for a FA or in a trade reverts back to the “Crawford/Beckett” Era.
As we said, long before the 2013 season:
It’s time for Red Sox fans to practice “delayed gratification.” 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.
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.
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
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.
Stephen Drew wants a multi-year deal for a ton of money; his agent, Scott Boras, has convinced him that he is HOF material and deserves Big Money. Stephen is just a guy who plays good defense and a few hitting hot streaks, who happens to play at a premium position.
Ben has a much better and less expensive player with a HOF future:
"put Bogaerts at SS."
Jacoby Ellsbury also wants a multi-year deal for a ton of money. He had one career year and is still a top defensive CF, but his career arc has peaked. Let the Rangers or Seattle over-pay for Ellsbury.
Ben has a much better and less expensive player with a bright future:
put Bradley in CF.
Saltalamacchia is worth keeping, if he is willing to play on a 2-year contract for, say, $7 million per year with some performance bonuses attached. He lacks instinct and judgment on defense and his runners caught stealing rate is barely adequate. He is a switch hitter with occasional power, who can still get better behind the plate.
Middlebrooks should start at 3b for the Red Sox in 2014 and Ben should sign Michael Young to back up Will, as well as Bogey and Dustin, and he could also play 1b, even OF in a pinch.
Chad Finn at the Boston Globe is selling a few more papers with his suggestion to make a four or five-player deal for young, power hitting, Mike Stanton; Finn might include: Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, Will Middlebrooks and Garin Cecchini.
Giancarlo Stanton may be the Franchise player in Miami, but Cherington cannot sell-off players who will be ready soon for his “Next Great Red Sox Team.”
We agree with our colleague, Derek Stykalo:
But is it worth venturing down that road that Theo Epstein took and all but selling the farm? The Red Sox have done a great job of replenishing their prospects and this year the baseball world took note that retaining and developing your young talent can pay off in huge spots. Is it time to ship a handful of the future over to Miami for Giancarlo Stanton?
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.