2014 Red Sox awards roundtable: Why can’t we get players like that?


In the spirit of the old Bob Lobel rhetorical, the BSI team submits our picks for the “Why Can’t We Get Players Like That?” award – the guy Theo Epstein or Ben Cherington traded away, released, or failed to re-sign who put up big numbers in 2014, a year when the Red Sox could have used him.

Why can’t we get players like…

Drew Peabody: Anthony Rizzo. Though he never made the majors with the Sox, Anthony Rizzo is my winner.  He was drafted in the sixth round out of high school by the Red Sox in 2007.  In 2010, as a 20-year old, he hit 25 homers and drove in 100 runs between high A and AA. This made him an attractive trade chip for the San Diego Padres, who had Adrian Gonzalez, thought to be a future perennial power threat at Fenway Park.  In December 2010, Rizzo and 2008 first rounder Casey Kelly were sent to San Diego for Gonzalez. Rizzo started out horribly in San Diego, slashing .141/281/.242 with only one homer in 151 plate appearances in 2011.  Theo Epstein remembered him as Cubs GM since he had arranged the Gonzalez trade as Red Sox GM.  The Cubs traded for him after the 2011 season and the last three years has transformed Rizzo into an All-Star.  Rizzo’s homer output of 15, 23, and 32 and a .913 OPS can only make Red Sox fans wonder what he might have done in Boston.

Rick McNair: Adrian Beltre. Start out with a 2014 that saw a slash of .324/.388/.492 and a 19/77 to go with it. In four seasons with Texas, Beltre is at .315/.364/.530. He has two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger in his four-year Texas stint and has been on three AL All-Star squads. All one has to do is examine the trials and tribulations at third with Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts on both offense and defense to see how valuable Beltre could have been.  Boston’s third base numbers would have been even more depressing without the contributions of Brock Holt.

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Sean Sylver: Carl Crawford. HA! No, it’s Adrian Beltre for me, too. Beltre had a huge 2010 with Boston, hitting .321 with 28 homers, 102 RBI and a league-leading 49 doubles. He was a perfect fit for Fenway Park. With Mike Lowell retiring, the team elected to pursue Adrian Gonzalez and move Kevin Youkilis back to third. Gonzalez was good here but never great, and it spelled the beginning of the end for Youk. Four years later, we reflect on Will Middlebrooks’ career line of .237/.284/.411, look at the numbers Rick posted above, and wonder…

Matthew Loper: Victor Martinez, Of course the Red Sox already have one of the best designated hitters in the game, but after a season in which the offense could never consistently score, 32 home runs and 103 RBI sure would look nice in a Boston uniform…again. A potential AL MVP candidate, Martinez was consistent all year long, batting .335 in 151 games. I always loved his swings and his patience at the plate, not to mention his quiet and calm leadership skills in the clubhouse (he never deserved any piece of the “blame pie”). V-Mart is well-respected in the league, and he’s certainly “one that got away” from the Red Sox.

Oct 2, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez (41) celebrates with catcher Alex Avila (13) after hitting a home run during the second inning in game one of the 2014 American League divisional series against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Hathaway: Victor Martinez. There are a number of former Sox players who enjoyed tremendous success this year. Adrian Beltre, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez headline the group, but it was Martinez who put together a truly special year. Acquired by the Sox at the 2009 deadline in the deal that delivered Justin Masterson to the Indians, he put together impressive numbers in his year and a half, hitting a eye popping .336 down the stretch in ’09, following that up in 2010 with a .302 average to go along with 20 dingers and 79 RBI. He spent just one full season in Boston before bolting for Detroit on what now looks like a modest four-year, $50 million dollar contract. This year he shattered the already lofty expectations of the Detroit fan base by slashing .334/.409/.565 with 87 runs, 32 homers and 103 RBI, but to Red Sox nation, his biggest accomplishment was finally dethroning David Ortiz as the best DH in baseball. Were we not living in the generation of five-tool superstars like Mike Trout, V-Mart would be a much more serious MVP candidate, but he will have to settle for anchoring Detroit’s lineup alongside Miguel Cabrera in a postseason campaign that may very well pit them against Trout and the Angels.

Joe Meehan: Jacoby Ellsbury. This award goes to Ellsbury because of the combination of his performance and the abysmal play of all the different pieces the Sox tried in center field. These were Ellsbury’s numbers this season: .271 average, 16 home runs, 70 RBI and 39 stolen bases. Those are some pretty good numbers. But when you put those numbers up against anyone the Sox tried in center, Ellsbury comes out looking like Babe Ruth. Red Sox’ centerfielders hit .216 with eight home runs, 44 RBI and 18 stolen bases. And keep in mind those numbers all got a boost with the last two weeks of Rusney Castillo. So I’m not saying the Sox should’ve given Ellsbury that huge deal, but it would’ve been nice to have him just for this season.