While the players have no been great this year, it has become pretty clear our biggest problem lies at the top. The sox FO/management has continually struggled with making all kinds of decisions, from simple to the more complex ones. Just looking at recent years, its hard not to notice the continual series of mistakes made by the FO. Whether it be in free agency, with trades, or roster decisions, there has just been way too many wrong decisions.
Signing the right players for the right price is often not the easiest task, but it is one that competent GM’s/FO’s need to be able to accomplish more often than not This is one area the sox FO has struggled big time. They just can’t seem to make the right signings at the right times. Some of the recent gems include:
AJ Pierzynski - Horrible fit, bad clubhouse guy who should never have been signed in the first place. Going with 2 old catchers is never a smart strategy.
John Lackey - While he has pitched well this year and last, we cannot ignore his first 2 years with the team during which he posted era’s of 4.40 and 6.41. He then missed the next season entirely. So the sox FO essentially paid $90 mill for 2 good years of big john.
Shane Victorino - In his first year with the team, he missed 40 games due to various injuries but did play well when he was able to get on the field. This year he has already missed a whopping 76 of 100 games. He is under contract for next season which will be the last of his 3 yr 39 mill deal, but the question is, how many games will he play? If the trend continues, this signing could go down as a massive flop.
Ryan Dempster - Great guy, bad signing. What makes this signing bad other than his onfield performance, was the fact that anyone with 2 eyes (heck one eye) could have seen this one coming. Prior to being signed by the sox in Ben’s first offseason, dempster was coming off a brutal stint with the rangers in his first taste of AL baseball. He posted a 5.09 era in 12 starts during which he allowed 10 homers. Despite that, Ben still signed him for 2 years.
Jonny Gomes - He is a role player, nothing more. A right handed bat off the bench who has posted good career numbers against lefties, but struggled to hit righties. Had gomes been used in that role exclusively and ben not overpaid him, he would not have been on this list. The fact that gomes played in 116 games for the sox last year exposed his flaws and took him out of the role he thrived in during recent years. He is a horrible defender who should play no other position besides DH. The fact that Ben signed him to platoon with nava rather than going out and getting an everyday LF was inexcusable. LF has always been a positions where you have one of your big bats (think manny, bay etc) Having 2 guys who should have been back-ups man that spot was a big part of the sox offensive woes this year.
Napoli over Abreu - Going into last offseason, the sox had the opportunity to sign a missing piece of the teams future, a long term answer at 1B. Mike Napoli’s contract was up and Jose Abreu was making the jump to the MLB. At 26 yrs of age, Abreu was entering right into the best years of his career and possessed the ability to be one of the best power bats in the MLB. Abreu would have only cost the sox money, no prospects or draft picks. What did the sox do? Rather than take a chance on a guy with huge potential who would fill a long term need, they took the safe stop-gap route and signed napoli to a 2 yr / 32 mill deal. Abreu signed with the white sox for 6 yrs/ 68 mill. Reports suggest that we were outbid by the white sox by $5-6 million in the end, which for a team with some much money seems unacceptable to me for one. Now abreu is one his way to a 30+ homer season while napoli has struggled to stay healthy/produce this year and we still have no longterm answer at 1B.
Trades - Well, there isn’t really much to look at in this department as ben has done little in terms of trades.
Peavy for jose iglesias - Had it not been for iglesias’ injuries, this trade might have looked a lot worse than it currently does. Peavy has given us nearly 1.5 yrs of decent production and will likely get dealt in the coming days for a marginal return at best.
Hanrahan and holt for melancon, sands, dejesus jr and pimental - This one looked bad until the recent emergence of brock holt. Melancon has been great for the pirates and pimental still has the potential to be a quality big leaguer. Hanrahan basically proved to be useless to the sox due to multiple injuries which lead to him being let going following his only season with the sox. Holt has emerged this year and has basically saved this deal for the sox. Ben ultimately got lucky on this one as nobody expected holt to be more than utility guy. We will see if he keeps it up for the remaining 62 games this year.
Ben and the FO’s: I will finish by touching upon this because it is something that I and many other sox fans disagree with. What I am referring to is Ben/The FO’s new found philosophy of only signing old players to short term deals. (see gomes, dempster, victorino, napoli, AJ) Plain and simple, it doesn’t work. If you have a team full of older players on short term deals, your team won’t go very far. The best players in the MLB are all on long term big money deals (with the exception of some really young guys), why? Because you have to pay for top notch talent. The sox FO found out first hand this year why the short term/old player philosophy/mentality doesn’t work. Old players get injured, decline and tend to lead to more questions than answers. Again, you have to pay for talent. So far ben has stuck to his philosophy and played it safe. All of his signing have been vets on short term deals. I’m still waiting for him to make his first big move. Be it a big trade or signing or both. A move that alters the franchise and gears it up for the road ahead. I’m talking a stanton or tulo or cargo or hamels or scherzer or hanley (we could use a few of those kind of players) But first and foremost, Ben needs to resign Lester. Lets not confuse this with the ellsbury situation. Lester is the ace of our staff, leader of the rotation, and has been as durable a starter as there is in baseball. He is a cornerstone of this team. And he wants to stay here and has thrived in boston. The 4 yr 70 mill offer the FO made to Lester prior to the season was an absolute joke. They know the market, they know what pitchers of his quality go for. 5 yrs 100+ mill should have been the starting point out of respect for lester. And given the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the rotation, i’m shocked the FO would take any chances with him. Had the sox FO signed him before the season, chances are they would have got him for much less then they will have to pay now given the great season he is having. Just another one of the many poor decisions made by the FO.