In 2012 Ben Cherington pulled the rabbit out of his hat, dealing away multiple large contracts to a Dodgers team desperate to make a splash. It was a deal that will only present itself maybe once in a lifetime and helped the Red Sox avoid a half decade of nasty articles about poor spending.
But that one offseason of failure shouldn’t dissuade the Red Sox from handing out more large contracts in the future.
The Sox were able to win the 2013 World Series thanks in large part to a rebuilding strategy that involved signing talented but not superstar level players to fairly short term deals at a slightly higher annual rate.
In 2014, the Red Sox stumbled to a last place finish using the same strategy, with many of the same players, leaving fans disappointed and confused.
The ironic thing is that, even with much of the same roster, neither of these results was a fluke. The 2013 team was talented, but many would argue that they weren’t nearly as talented as a Tigers team that they eliminated in the ALCS. A lot fell perfectly into place.
The 2014 team was also talented, but this time things didn’t work out quite as perfect. Injuries and underperformance from veterans and rookies alike cost this team a chance at being a contender.
So what point am I trying to make? The point here is that whether you’re an aggressive spender or a bargain shopper there are going to be certain risks involved.
The Sox were so caught up in Gonzalez’ potential Green Monster home runs that they didn’t factor in how his laid-back California style would be received by a Boston fan base that construes quiet as a lack of passion.
Then they were so caught up in Carl Crawford forming a base-stealing duo with Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup that they didn’t factor in how his oversensitive personality would fit in with the critical Boston media.
If the Sox are serious about competing again, they are going to have to rethink their approach and consider reopening their wallet for the right players.
Jon Lester has proven that he is a durable competitor who fits perfectly in Boston. Don’t let the fear of a potential drop-off in year six stop you from getting four or five great years out of him at the top of the rotation.
All indications also point to Pablo Sandoval having the temperament to get the job done in Boston. Plus, he fits a need as a left hitting third baseman. So go out and give him a little extra money or an extra year so we don’t have to deal with another revolving door at the position.
Can anyone honestly say that giving a two or three-year deal to Chase Headley and five years to James Shields would be a better formula than six years to Lester and five to Sandoval? Because I don’t believe it would be. Give me the more reliable and predictable players for a few extra years over the unpredictable because they’ll agree to a shorter deal.
The past is the past and there are lessons to be learned from it. But let’s open those wallets and get back in the hunt.