Can you do both at once?
There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about David Price and his odd lack of success in the playoffs. As soon as Dave Dombrowski took over for the Sox, people were thinking about David Price. After all, he said that he wanted to get an ace, and he had already traded for Price once before. Perhaps it was making too much sense.
Then, during the playoffs, people started noticing that he wasn’t winning. In fact, he had never won a postseason game he started. Is this the guy you want as the ace of the staff? Someone who dooms your chances in the playoffs?
Which, pretty much broke people into two camps. Those that cared, and those that didn’t.
As a quick side note, this very conversation is one of the reasons I hate allowing playoffs to determine a champion. Why should it take two types of teams? Why should you have to make this choice?
There are a couple different arguments people use when they still want the Red Sox to go after Price. One is that he could always turn it around. After all, Clayton Kershaw was pretty bad in the playoffs until this year. The wonder of small sample size could mean that Price will turn it around in his next start. Of course, that same sample size argument would mean that any ol’ pitcher could pitch well in a playoff game. Look at Lester. People were actually screaming that he wasn’t an ace…until he dominated in a postseason run. Who’s to say Wade Miley can’t dominate in a postseason…if you’re bringing up small sample sizes. Do you really want to chase after a guy and give him big money, and then hope he figures out when to pitch when it counts?
The other point people try to make is that you can’t sign guys for the postseason. The theory is that the Sox did exactly that when they signed Pablo Sandoval. He was known for his clutch performances as his teams won three rings. Teaming him up with David Ortiz in a postseason series was going to be something special. Until the Sox didn’t even make the postseason. What a waste. They signed a guy to help them win in the postseason, and then didn’t even make the postseason. But, I could argue, isn’t that exactly what the Sox did in 2004? They reached the ALCS with, basically, just Pedro. That wasn’t enough. They needed another starter. They needed a reliever who could pitch multiple innings when needed to close out games. So, they got Schilling and Foulke. That had already made the playoffs without either of them. So, they were only really needed once the Sox got there. That worked out pretty well. But, I’ve always said that the postseason is a roll of the dice. So, you do need to sign guys that will get you to the postseason, and then see what happens. I can at least understand this theory. The key is getting there. Then figure it out from there.
The question I have with that approach is, how will you “figure it out” when you get there? Put yourself in next October. David Price has led your staff to the playoffs, and now you need a game one starter. Are you “figuring it out” by starting him in game one? Even when all history says he’s going to crap his pants? Do you feel good about that? Do you bench him in the playoffs like the Yankees just did to Jacoby Ellsbury? Not exactly the best use of your so-called ace. What exactly is your option when you “figure it out?” That’s not a plan.
For the record, I do think the Sox should go after Price. No, I don’t think they should open the checkbook for him. I do think he should be punished financially for his postseason woes. If he’s not the type of pitcher who can win in both the regular and post season, he’s less valuable to your team. If I had a player who could only perform well in day games, or against lefties, I’d pay him less for that fault as well. Same idea. The reverse would be true the other way as well, by the way. If the guy could only hit in the playoffs, but struggled in the regular season, that would be held against him as well.
If you want all the money, you need all the skills.