I know this has not been the best of weeks for you. After pulling off a wonderful centennial celebration of America’s “Most Beloved Ballpark,” you watched the Yankees ruin the day by beating the your Red Sox, 6-2.
A day later, the ship seemed to be righted when your club jumped out to a 9-0 lead on the Yankees. All was right until your bullpen self-destructed in a 15-9 epic nine-inning flashback to last September.
Mother Nature provided a respite on Sunday by washing out the night game and keeping the national TV audience from seeing countless shots of Bobby Valentine in the dugout with old (and former) friend Terry Francona up in the ESPN booth providing some rich commentary.
Watching your $175 million team bumble out of the blocks for the second straight year is no way to spend the beautiful spring weeks of April.
Your team seems to have found its footing again after three wins over the woeful Twins, but still confidence in Red Sox Nation isn’t very high.
But I am here to provide hope, perspective and just a little advice.
Let your general manager, Ben Cherington, do his job. Let a baseball man trained to judge and evaluate talent do his work and then trust him.
You had every right to bring Bobby Valentine and Cherington into a closed-door meeting in Valentine’s office after the Saturday fiasco at Fenway. If I were paying the bills you’re paying, I’d want the same accountability.
No one is going to criticize that. It shows you care and you’re hands-on.
You’ve heard tons of opinions about what ails your team and even more suggestions on how to fix it because the people around here feel it's their God-given right to offer their two cents on a team that has been the fabric of Boston and New England for generations.
I am an outsider. I have no such feelings or emotions. My only qualification for offering an opinion comes from carefully watching, with a critical eye, your team and how it’s handling itself on and off the field.
I’ll take you at your word that you supported Carl Crawford, just not at the exorbitant $142 million price tag that came with a quickly aging corner outfielder who played on turf for the first eight years of his highly accomplished career.
Theo Epstein was the general manager for two World Series teams. He also was the man who spent $500 million of your money on contracts that made your colleagues in baseball burst out in laughter.
You, more than anyone in this city, understand the dangers of paying for past performance as opposed to projected value. The financial world is built on that principal. Why do you not take that same approach in the game of baseball?
Look, obviously you need stars to sell seats and guarantee TV ratings.
But this is still a baseball team.
Which brings me to my pet peeve of all pet peeves: statistics.
You know all about statistics. Your multibillion-dollar fortune was built on it in the hedge fund business.
Obviously, statistics have been a part of baseball since the early 1900s. Whether it’s OPS, OPS+, Slugging, SRS, WAR, they’re all useful in evaluating pitching and hitting skills. That’s not changing anytime soon. But baseball is a game of physical execution and personal character over eight long months together.
This clearly is where your team has failed in the last eight months. Thanks in part to some horrifically bad free agent decisions from Cherington’s predecessor, Theo Epstein, you’re stuck with Carl Crawford, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
All three of those players in the right frame of mind and of well body are capable of helping -- perhaps in the case of Matsuzaka, sometime this season. But Crawford and Lackey are looking like projects for the 2013 season.
Baseball still is a dynamic game played best by young, agile players who have exceptional hand-eye coordination and terrific core strength. Dustin Pedroia fits into that category. So does Adrian Gonzalez and even David Ortiz, as he continues to show in his mid-to-late 30s.
There is this sense that the Red Sox don’t want to take chances on rushing young players. That is an excuse for being afraid to take calculated risks on young players.
That’s silly and hurtful to your big league team.
With injuries to Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury struggling, there are opportunities for young players to come up and fill an everyday void.
Whether it’s baseball, hockey, football or basketball, young players (i.e., between 20-25) are fully capable of thriving if they are in the right environment. Why? Because they’re in the prime of their physical years.
Certainly you need veterans like Gonzalez, Ortiz and Pedroia as a foundation. But this Red Sox team needs to get younger and more dynamic.
You have been burned over the last seven years with about $500 million in highly questionable contracts.
The smartest businessmen are the ones who pay more for projected production than past performance.
Carl Crawford and John Lackey are roughly $225 million worth of contract that flies in the face of smart baseball business.
Look at the Patriots, who are re-loading their dynasty of a football franchise this weekend. Think Bill Belichick was afraid of putting Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez or Devin McCourty in pressure situations in NFL games?
Of course not.
Look at the Bruins. Tyler Seguin has developed into a star and he’s 20.
The Celtics? Avery Bradley was thrust into the starting lineup in just his second season out of Texas. Everyone thought he needed more seasoning. Maybe, but put him on the court with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, and it’s amazing how no one asks how old a kid is.
Point is, if you have the right coaching staff and support personnel around, you can prepare professional athletes of all ages to succeed if they have the talent.
You know all about calculated risks from your financial empire.
Rebuild the farm. Sox fans are excited about names like Will Middlebrooks, Anthony Ranaudo, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway and Alex Wilson. Middlebrooks is the most unlikely to be called up because Kevin Youkilis stands in front of him at third base and that -- barring injury -- isn’t changing anytime soon, as our own Alex Speier pointed out this week.
But for the long term, there needs to be a re-investment in the system, like scouting and signing blue chip picks, which the Red Sox have had a great track record of under your stewardship.
Rebuild the bullpen. If you don’t get this one right, you’re a .500 team at best. It’s a lesson Theo learned in 2007 and it paid off in a second World Series title.
I understand the decision to let Jonathan Papelbon walk because of the reason stated above -- past performance does not guarantee future production. But the plan to appease Daniel Bard and move him to the rotation and trust the back end of your bullpen to the injured Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves is blowing up in your face.
Fix that bullpen, add a spice of a rookie or two to re-energize the clubhouse and fan base, make a trade or two to reload the rotation, and you’re looking a Red Sox team that can make the playoffs in a watered-down MLB postseason. Then, anything can happen.
In other words, let Ben Cherington do his job.
As you might imagine, the Trags Bag was chock-full of suggestions.
@Mmb728 I would demand putting Bard in the bullpen. Hill and Miller in pen. Cook in rotation.
@JFossick youk is blocking middlebrooks, that part of your reasoning too?
@RosalynnTrammel all of the above. May as well see if they can all play. Though if I were to keep one down it'd be Iglesias. He could prob learn more
@Farmstrong27 Hire away the rays scouts. Between their eye for young talent and this teams wallet the possibilities are endless.
@Jdecoursey Players who haven't been around to absorb the panicking clubhouse mentality are as important as fresh blood on the field.
@cal405 There needs to be a blowup, not band aids. do u trade ellsbury? He's gone after next year. Sox are not winning before that
@FramCire Underpaid dont underachieve RT @Trags: If #RedSox struggle with young talent, fans will at least be enthusiastic to see what they can prove.
@TheRealityGM need to have Lavarnway up as well. The kid can rake & his D is at least on par w Salty. Deal Youk & Salty. Go w the kids &win
@Runaway3124 Middlebrooks and Lavarnway. Iglesias still needs time for hitting. Aviles is not one of the problems.
@Dan_OMara No, there isn't a Buch or Lester ready to pitch, right now. But the A to AA has pitching talent for the future. Barnes, Ranaudo...
@SoxRoushketeer Not starting pitching, [bullpen]. We always have a bad BP. We take too many "used to be fabulous" rejects.
@paulrharvey3 nobody has a good [bullpen] development. Every team consigns the guys they've decided can't start for them there.
@GingerNinja023 Definitely would like to see Middlebrooks and Lavarnway, they've clearly shown they're ready to contribute, whereas Iglesias hasn't
@drjefflo I would like to see @16wmbrooks come up to the biggies and bash the ball around.
@Spone63 Even the pats let some talent go they shouldve kept. RED sox got heisted on their big ticket items Also Pats have Belichick. Red Sox Lucchino. Check mate
@leehumerian so glad you have all theanswers. Maybe you should go out on the mound and make the start?