Ben Cherington fell on the sword a little bit yesterday when asked about the state of the team. He correctly pointed out that it wasn’t just one thing, or one player, that has dragged down the season to this point. He said it was a number of things all going wrong at once. So, if you needed one person to blame for wide sweeping failures, it would be him.
But what, exactly can we blame him for in regards to the first few months of the 2015 season?
After all, if we’re talking about this current team and its struggles, we can’t talk about overpaying for a guy, or signing him to a long term deal. So, you can think that Hanley Ramirez isn’t worth $20 million, or that they shouldn’t have signed Porcello before he threw a pitch. You’d be wrong anyway. But, those would at least be valid complaints if we’re three years from now and were saying that Hanley hasn’t help up to be productive in his fourth year, or Porcello didn’t develop into an ace when he was thirty. But, neither of those would affect April, May, or June of the 2015 season.
So, which mistake did he make that is affecting this current situation?
Should he have known that Pablo would perform so much worse than he had over his career, or last year? Should he have known that Porcello would be worse than he’d ever been? Should he have known that Craig, and Castillo, and Nava would all be terrible after Victorino got hurt?
Which ace was he supposed to sign? Have you seen Lester’s numbers in the NL? Should he have given up Betts and Swihart for Hamels? Would that have helped? Or would the Sox be in last place, without two top prospects.
You could complain that he didn’t get much for John Lackey, apparently, in the trade last year. But, really, Kelly was a 25-year old starter, with a World Series start under his belt. How much better did you want him to do for an older pitcher who may have been a two month rental in some team’s eyes? You could argue that they should have gotten more for Lester. But, the clean-up hitter for the team with the best record in the league? That’s a pretty good haul for someone you weren’t going to have in a couple months. Then, they traded that for a young starter…basically Lester four years earlier. So, they traded Lester for a younger version of himself. Not bad.
No, Porcello-Buchholz wasn’t Pedro-Schilling. So, maybe the blame can go to assuming the offense could score five runs a game to make up for the runs the staff gave up. But, who didn’t think this offense would score runs? Were there any signs that every player on the team would stink? Napoli was finally healthy, was he supposed to forget how to hit? Was he supposed to know that heart of the order would all play significantly below their career levels? Or even last year’s levels?
What was he supposed to know? What was he supposed to do?
Which specific mistake did he make?