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The Sports Daily > Firebrand AL
The Sky Is Not Falling

Why are we so upset with the Red Sox? Did we not say that we would be okay with a third-place finish prior to the season?
We are currently 20 games over .500, two games behind the Yankees (with a lot more Yankee games to be played) and tied for the Wild Card lead. Facing the Royals with the Yankees and White Sox doing battle, the odds are high of us either leaving Kansas City with the division lead or the wild card lead.
And yet, we’re not happy.
Yes, our bullpen aside of Papelbon recently has been falling apart.
How many fans called for the ball to be turned over to Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen?
These two pitchers are brimming with talent, but they are rookies. As Seth Mnookin’s “Feeding the Monster” introduced in the beginning, Theo Epstein knows that rookies have an adjustment period. In a meeting before the 2005 season, people except Theo were in favor of glossing over the potential struggles of the club and rookies. Theo felt this was not the way, and wondered what would happen once Pedroia botched a ball in the field or hit a skid hitting.
We all know Dustin Pedroia is an exciting ballplayer, but to expect him to step in from day one and constantly outproduce our expectations is foolish. He’s not even yet a rookie, and we’re especting him to not only start for our club next year, but to do so at an All-Star caliber?
Rookies learn. They learn by making mistakes, and they learn by experience. Rare is it for a rookie or a sophomore not hit a skid at some point. That’s what we’re seeing with Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen.
The fans agitated for them, and I cautioned against putting too much trust in them. They’ve hit a rough patch, and now the world is falling down.
We have a young, learning bullpen with Julian Tavarez and Rudy Seanez sitting around and not doing much. I’m not in favor of Tavarez in high-leverage situations, but I’m also not in favor of burying him. Rudy Seanez’s ERA the past month is microscopic, and even fans are realizing that hey, he’s not all that bad.
And yet the organization and the fans rely on the youngesters, and now the world is over. Before, when Tavarez and Seanez failed, fans wanted the young guys because they thought they’d help us win.
And they have helped us win, but they’ve also helped us lose. Such is the life of a youngester. Josh Beckett is still yet only 25!
Our future is incredibly bright. We are tremendously lucky to be able to truly have a great chance to win it all every three years, and in between these three years, have a good chance to win it all. How many other rebuilding clubs can say that?
20 games over .500, 2 behind the AL East lead, tied for the Wild Card with struggling youngsters? People say we’re not as good as our record shows. Does that not mean that they’ve exceeded expectations, then? How can we pile on a club that’s exceeded expectations?
Instead of thinking the world is over, that Josh Beckett is ruined for life … let’s just play baseball and support our Sox.

Comments

  1. I agree almost completely, with the caveat that all this doesn't suggest they'll be able to turn it around this year. I think that's likely unrealistic, given the injuries, the lack of SP depth, and the back-end bullpen issues. But to me, that's not a big deal. The fact that they remained competitive during this season is a testament to the FO in a lot of ways – not many clubs could survive the types of injuries and rookie contributions the Red Sox have had. The direction is the correct one, and as the younger players mature this team should be even better in '07.

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  2. Nice post, Evan. Thanks for this.
    I said during the offseason that I'd be willing to punt 2006 if it would make the Sox better in 2007 and beyond, and I maintain that stance. That may be our fate this year, maybe not. Either way, we shouldn't lose sleep over this club's current struggles. Holding onto good young talent, particularly with pitching, is rarely a bad idea, but it can take time for the team to reap the full dividends. (Detroit Tigers, anyone?) It should surprise no one that these guys are inconsistent–I'm actually more surprised with how excellent Papelbon has been all year. He's still mortal, of course, but much less so than any of the other young guns so far.
    It's always frustrating to watch the Sox struggle while the Yankees and their bloated payroll look like world beaters and get praised endlessly for it. But even if we miss October this year, the experience Lester, Delcarmen, Hansen, and yes Beckett too, have gained this year will go a long way to making the team even better next year.
    The only thing that could really suck is that missing the postseason might cost Ortiz the MVP award, but that's another story entirely.

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  3. No, the sky is not falling, and I'm glad that we didn't trade away the future for Bobby Abreu or anyone else.
    But, the Yankees didn't either. They acquired Abreu and a decent 4/5 starter for four prospects that nobody wanted or remembers. I am impressed by Cashman's ability to continue to make these trades, and I'm increasingly concerned about Epstein's inability to do so. What did the Reds give up to get Kyle Lohse? (Not that Lohse is a world-beater, but he is a tolerable back-of-the rotation guy, and besides, how many teams have two guys named Kyle?) What would we have had to give up to get just Lidle? It's unlikely to be more than the Yankees had to give up to get the two of them.
    Cash has shown that you don't always have to trade away the future to shore up the present. I haven't seen the Sox do the same since '04.

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  4. I don't think you can really even begin to call the Abreu/Lidle thing a "trade". It was an out and out salary dump onto the only team that could take it on. To praise Cashman for that deal is a little too much. No other team could absorb it and the Phillies were desperate to get rid of not only the salary… but Abreu himself.
    With the money saved, they'll make a HUGE pull to grab Zito. So.. smart move on the Phillies part if it works out…. you could spin it to say that the Phillies traded Lidle and Abreu and picked up an ace and a bunch of prospects… one of which could be very good in two years.

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  5. Always nice to see some positivity out of RSN. The sky is certainly not falling. There is a lot of baseball left, and this is a talented baseball team. Nevertheless, there are some real issues to be addressed, and they go beyond how we're doing against the bottom-feeders of the league.
    That Hansen and Delcarmen are struggling to get guys out is obviously troubling but as you say acceptable in the short-term. The deeper issue is whether the continued failure and usage will damage them for the future. Hansen in particular appears to be mechanically struggling and could probably use some AAA time to focus on simply throwing. The question is certainly about going young or not going young, but it's also about how we go young.
    Fan expectations are high in RSN, and in some ways justifiably so – nobody spends as much on their team as we do as fans. The potential negative impact from this is not limited to youngsters; look at Renteria and Clement, two guys who cannot play in this environment. The single most important job for our front office is determining who will thrive at Fenway and who will crumble.
    A significant portion of Tito's job is creating an environment where it's easier to do well. Currently we might not be seeing that, and it's not his fault per se; he's had a lot of bad luck. The thing to be mindful of is that losing right now may carry more repercussions than just in the standings. That's why it's important for this team to put together a string of wins – so these guys, young AND old, can gain some confidence and start having some fun.
    Success is important this year because that success will build up the young guns, and that will generate success in future years. I think fans are frustrated more because there appears to be a lack of leadership right now, and that is hurting the kids. Tek's injury was a real blow; can't wait until he comes back.

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  6. Why could the Red Sox not absorb Abreu's salary? We weren't going to take any extra of a lux tax hit because of it. I find it hard to believe that the Red Sox aren't making boatloads of cash, with all the marketing savvy they have. Anybody else notice the prominent new Gulf sign in the LF stands right next to the Green Monster? Wonder how many millions that cost. And they've got a lucrative new radio deal with WEEI, one of the richest in radio history I believe. I see Red Sox apparel literally everywhere — like taxicabs in Manhattan, you can't look in either direction down the street without seeing 10 of them. And of course, the consecutive sellouts streak is still going. It's not like Red Sox fans aren't doing everything they possibly could to support the team, short of funding the damn payroll out-of-pocket.
    Which we would probably do, if asked. Because we're that nuts about this team.
    And payroll is actually down this year from last year.
    I'm telling you, the Red Sox shareholders are in cash up to their fucking ears. Abreu was ours if we wanted him. At minimal cost in terms of talent. And let's not forget that, if we traded for Abreu, we probably shipped Nixon off somewhere else, so that greatly lessens the impact of Abreu's salary on our bottom line.
    Yeah, actually I'm kinda bitter about this. John Henry, I'm lookin' at you.

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