Re: A Realistic View at 2013: Part III
posted at 8/22/2013 7:11 PM EDT
As most of you know, I all but wrote off this season in March and complained that Ben, by playing it "half way", ended up helping neither the now nor the future in ways that made us highly competitive. I still look at the totality of his winter moves and shrug my shoulders. Other than Uehara, I don't see any signing or trade other than the Carp deal as being a "knock it out of the park" deal.
Victorino is looking great now, but was hurt and struggling for most of the year. His WAR numbers are greatly enhanced by his defense in RF, but his offense has been sketchy when taken in its totality. I was against this signing, but mostly about the 3rd year and Shane's recent struggles vs RHPs.
Gomes has been clutch and has heated up. I liked his signing at the time, and saw him as the much cheaper option than Cody Ross. I hope his numbers vs LHPs revert to his previous 3 year norm.
Drew has fielded better than I expected. I was against the signing at the time, but he is starting to look like he may turn out to be a net plus or at least a break even for the $9M spent. I called people "crazy" for suggesting he might earn a QO this winter, but now it doesn't seem so outlandish. My bad.
Napoli is likely to make $12-13M this year. He helped us early when Papi was hurt, but needs to regain himself before too long to make this signing a net plus.
Ross has been hurt. That's hard to hold against Ben, but one can't say in hindsight, that it was a great signing.
Dempster has not done well for us. He had some tough luck earlier with lack of run support, but at $13.5M x 2, I can't see this signing as anywhere near a plus.
Hanrahan deal: Failure. I'm not one of those that believes Melancon cannot handle the spotlight of a major market.
So, if the overall signings have not been a huge net plus, how are we in 1st place? Partly, it's almost by luck. The injury to Drew and struggles by Middy forced Ben and John to play Iggy. We got a lot out of him on O and D, and then capitalized on his risen stock and added Peavy to the roster. Now Drew and Middlebrooks are doing well, and Peavy is offering a hope for the missing top starter to take Buch's place or compliment him if and when he returns to form. Nava and Carp: big pluses. Salty: improved OBP by over 40 points. Ellsbury: stayed healthy. Lackey and Doubront: huge help. Uehara and Tazawa: WOW! Fill-in players like Workman, Britton, Holt, Snyder, Wright, and others all helped here and there. Team chemistry, something I have always downplayed, has seemd tp show it matters more than I thought it could. Mangers, coaches, and a bit of luck here and there has helped as well. Even if you don't like John, you have to admit, he's an upgrade over Bobby V.
I said last winter that I was not going to bash Ben until a sufficient time went by and the team became clearly "his team". I mentioned that I thought the Dodger trade was the real start of the "Ben era". I love that trade at the time and still do. We will be seeing the gains from that trade in future signings up to 2018. We may see Webster or DLR take on a big role in years to come. Yes, we will miss AGon, but at $22M/yr, even losing him should be able to be replaced with that kind of money.
In recent years, we have heard many posters complain about the "black holes" in our line-up. The unbalanced Lefty-righty or home-away splits. Now, that is largely a thing of the past, but we still have areas of need (as do all teams). I love rooting for this particular Red Sox team. It's always more fun to root for a team that is overachieving in terms of pre-season expectations. The year is not over. We haven't won anything yet. There's still a chance for bitter dissappointment, but all in all, this has been a great season so far. I love being wrong. I'm not afraid to admit I misjudged a few aspects of this team last March. It's hard not to view the Sox as a top 4 or 5 contender for the ring. I'd have to say the Dodgers and Tigers are higher favorites, but I think we match up with Detroit pretty well, since they have mostly RH'd starters. We'll see how we match up with the Dodgers starting tomorrow.