Monday, December 24, 2012

State of the Nation

Red Sox fans have become something akin to those brainwashed to hear the rants of their favorite political party.  And one has to ask whether the Red Sox media coverage has become equally culpable.

The Sox have made a lot of moves this offseason. But as John Wooden reminded us, "never confuse activity with achievement."

The cornerstone move of the offseason was coming to an agreement with Mike Napoli. Napoli (when healthy) has been a productive player, received selection to one All-Star team, and among his 'similarity scores' has the immortal Duke Sims. All that being said, he's in medical limbo, as both parties work out contract terms after a hip issue appeared during his physical. In other words, the Sox "big" move is as yet not signed, sealed, and delivered.

Beginning 'up the middle' the Sox have a platoon catching situation with hopes pinned on the apotheosis of David Ross. Sox scribes have been pumping Ross' tires hard...Kelly Shoppach is one of the similar players to David Ross.

Sox fans have no gripes with perennial grinder Dustin Pedroia, who will have his annual replacement shortstop in Steven Drew.  We can only hope that the Drew move works out anywhere close to as well as the Adrian Beltre contract year in Boston.

The Sox will have Jacoby Ellsbury in centerfield. Who is the 'real' Jacoby Ellsbury? Is he the MVP runnerup of 2011, or some incarnation of perennially-injured Tim Naehring?  If Ellsbury can play anyway near as well as he thinks he is, then the Sox will have a world beater. Let's hope so.

Is the Sox' rotation good enough to compete in a division with the Yankees far superior rotation, Toronto's rebuild, and the ever-changing Rays?  The projected starters of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, and Felix Doubront.  Peter Gammons used to tell of Lester's burning desire to be great.  Is that Lester the same guy?  Buchholz appeared to separate from the problem duo of Josh Beckett and Lackey. Dempster is a .500 pitcher who has struggled in the AL (never mind the AL East), Lackey comes off injury, and Doubront had a 2012 that he can build off.  But it looks like a rotation with at best a pair of 'twos', and three 'fours'. No offense, but Lester and Buchholz don't remind me of Koufax and Drysdale.

The Sox have promise at third with Will Middlebrooks, an expected platoon of Gomes and Kalish in left, and an overpaid Shane Victorino in right. The 'Glory Days' saw Rice, Lynn, and Evans in the outfield with a cameo from Yaz in left. . Gomes, Ellsbury, and Victorino are decaf to that trio.

The Sox are relying on statistical overachievement to allow them to compete. Sure, that might happen, but I wonder whether season ticket-holders are buying that.  The Baseball Operations guys have all the tools like Win Shares and Wins Above Replacement (WAR) to guide them, but I wonder if they have more faith or more hope.

If somebody asked you who had the highest WAR among Red Sox pitchers in 2012, you'd have to be Nostradamus to know. For those who didn't click through, the answer was Junichi Tazawa and Scott Atchison with 1.7.

The old saying goes "money can't play."  Sox fans are expected to pony up among the highest dollars per game.  Red Sox management can't claim that you get what you pay for.

No comments: