Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dave’s Here. Ben’s Gone. I Have No Idea What’s Going On

I sure hope someone does.

I had the same questions after the 2012 season when they fired Bobby Valentine. They had already traded away Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. Why did they fire Valentine too? Either he was doing a bad job as manager, or the players were doing a poor job as players. Why did they decide it was both?

I have similar feelings today. Everyone seemed pretty excited, for some reason, when Larry Lucchino left the team. After all, some people felt he had his hands in the cookie jar too much, and ruined the Jon Lester negotiations. They’re wrong, but it’s an opinion. So, if you think that, how can you be excited that Ben Cherington is leaving as well? Shouldn’t it be one or the other? And should it bother you that the replacement for Larry was apparently such a change that Ben jumped ship?

So, what was the problem?

Did I agree with everything that Cherington did? Of course not. I think he overvalued his prospects. He seemed unwilling to fish or cut bait with some of the younger kids. The fact that he signed Hanley Ramirez to a long-term deal, but still hasn’t traded Bradlely, Betts, or Castillo yet baffles me. It’s like he’s so afraid of making a Bagwell trade, that he doesn’t part with anyone. But, I thought that’s what the Sox hired Jerry Dipoto for. Someone fresh to look at the farm system and say, “Ben, your judgment is a little clouded on this one. That guy you drafted really isn’t any good.” Wasn’t that supposed to allow Ben to start making some objective trades?

But that’s really the only problem I had with Cherington. Sure he’s made some moves that didn’t work out. People like to complain about the Panda deal. But, he wasn’t the only GM going after him. One of those other teams was the Giants, so it’s not like he should have wondered why his current team didn’t want him. The Sox didn’t even make the largest offer. So, how can we blame Ben for that move? It’s not his fault that Panda suddenly dropped off the planet. Same goes for Hanley Ramirez. How should he have known that Hanley would be so bad in left field. That where you stick older players who can still hit.

So, which problem is Dave Dombrowski supposed to fix? Does he no longer have to work within an organizational philosophy about signing 30-year old pitchers? If you’re going to take those reins off, couldn’t Ben do that? Or, was that Ben’s philosophy in the first place?

Does John Henry suddenly forget that he made his fortune by using numbers better than anyone else in order to predict the future? Is he suddenly going to sign huge checks based on the “eye test”? He didn’t need to get rid of anyone in order to change his mind like that.

So, am I scared by the changes? Not quite. I’ve always said that at least 50% of the point of having a prospect is trading him for a star. So, having a guy willing to part with a few of them for David Price doesn’t spook me as much as someone who insists Mookie Betts is untouchable. I’m more confused by them. Does this change the direction of the organization? Whose direction was it?

And it’s not like Dombrowski hasn’t had some success building a team. He made it to the ALCS a couple years ago with a team including the previous three AL MVP winners. Where he lost to a team built by Ben Cherington. Then he made the playoffs with that team that included the last three Cy Young winners. Where he lost in the first round.

But you’ll have to forgive me if I’m not jumping up and down. Twitter is full of people suddenly excited because DD is going to get us an ace! I’m still in the camp that an ace isn’t the end all be all. (After all, even Pedro wasn’t.) But, if he was to go get one, I’m not going to argue. And while I always hated the Atlanta Braves business plan of being merely good today so you can be good tomorrow, I’m not sure the sell everything for a title theory is the best way either. That sure didn’t work in Boston for 86 years or so.

All the same, I’m willing to wait and see. I’ve always said there’s more than one way to build a team. The best GMs can adapt to what the market has to offer, and make changes on the fly. So, I’ll see how this all works out.

And who knows. Maybe the new GM will want to clean house a little bit.

Maybe the Sox can finally get out from under the Pedroia contract. 

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