A large percentage of the RSN have argued 2014's disaster is mostly the result of replacing good hit, OK field Ellsbury with so-so hit, very good field Bradley. For proof they point to Bradley's abysmal OPS, barely over .600 and the Sox horrible hitting and scoring, dead last in the AL. Even worse than Tampa and Houston, for crying out loud.
But WAR--wins above replacement--paint a different picture. Right now Ellsbury's WAR is 1.5 and Bradley's is 1.4, so Jacoby is ranked 7th among AL centerfielders and Jackie 8th. They are that close because Bradley right now is the best fielding CF in the AL.
When salaries are compared--Jacoby's $22M to Jackie's $500K--it becomes even harder to understand why some among the RSN pine for Ellsbury and despise Bradley.
To me this relates to the larger question of "what should Ben C have done after the 2013 season?" As of right now, Cherington has brought back everyone important on the 2013 roster except Ellsbury and Saltalamacchia, and to these eyes neither is missed that much. Pierzynski's WAR is a terrible -.1, but Salty's WAR is only slightly better at .2.
And let's not forget that Ben C brought back virtually the entire 2013 pitching staff, the same guys who had an ERA of 2.00 in the postseason against the Rays, Tigers, and Cardinals and the 5th best ERA in the AL during the regular season.
The John Henry era has brought three world titles after an 86 year drought, but I think 2013 just might have been the most surprising, coming as it did after finishing dead last in the AL East in 2012, Ben C's first year as GM and the same year he traded away AGon, CC, and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers. 2004, as great as it was, repeated 2003 only with a better ALCS outcome and then sweeping the Cardinals in 4 in the WS.
I am by no means letting Ben C off the hook because the GM is always accountable for what happens on the field, barring an epidemic of injuries of course. In this case Victorino can hardly be called an epidemic. Middlebrooks on the DL is difficult to assess because of his struggles in 2013.
moonslav says this is the month when Ben C will make one or more deals to begin to right the ship, not for 2014 so much as for 2015 and after. Consequently, I think it is way too early to make a definitive judgment on Ben C's tenure as GM except to say he helped produce a minor miracle in 2013 which simply didn't carry forward into 2014.