Pitcher 1: 7-0, 2.82 ERA, 1 save, 8.91 K/9, and a batting average against hovering around .200 in 8 starts and 14 relief appearances over 63.2 innings.
Pitcher 2: 7-2, 2.89 ERA, 5.48 K/9, and a .208 batting average against in 14 starts over 87.1 innings.
Those two pitchers don’t sound hugely different, right? Pitcher 1 has some relief appearances mixed in, significantly more strikeouts per IP, and averages about a third of an inning more per start, but besides that the stats are more or less identical.
If you haven’t guessed by now, pitcher 1 is an amalgam of Josh Beckett (4-0, 2.83, .165 BAA), Jon Lester (3-0, 2.45 ERA, .241 BAA), Craig Hansen (1-0, 4.50 ERA, .250 BAA in 6 appearances), and Manny Delcarmen (1 save, 2.57 ERA, .231 BAA in 8 appearances) versus the National League. Pitcher 2 is Anibal Sanchez. (Sanchez, in his two AL starts, was 1-0 with a 6.30 ERA and a .326 BAA.)
Why am I pointing this out? Because yesterday, I wrote about the departure of some behind-the-scenes front office talent and wondered whether that had anything to do with the fact that the Sox have seemingly given up a lot of young players who have succeeded elsewhere, while the players they’ve held on to have struggled. (To be fair — to myself — I included this caveat, known as a “cover your ass” in the industry: “That doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t mean they wonâ€šÃ„Ã´t, and the success of the young NL phenoms who cut their teeth in Pawtucket and Portland doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t mean they wouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t have struggled in the AL, or struggled in Bostonâ€šÃ„Ã´s fishbowl atmosphere (San Diego, South Florida, and Pittsburgh ainâ€šÃ„Ã´t exactly known for their rabid fanbases).”) Scratch the surface a bit and it doesn’t look like the Sox’s young guns have struggled quite so much, at least against comperable talent. (Add in Papelbon to pitcher 1′s stats and you get this: 8-0, 6 saves, 2.55 ERA, 8.76 K/9 in 8 starts and 22 relief appearances over 74 innings.) If only he hadn’t been traded, Gammons might have been right when he said Beckett would win the Cy Young. Unfortunately, he’s playing in the AL.
A little more digging turned up another, um, flaw in my arguement. Are Chadd, Garcia, Eljaua, and Moore the departures that have hurt the Boston Red Sox in 2006? The short answer is no: none of them were ever involved in major league decisions. (Eljaua was involved in Japanese pro scouting…and the Sox’s influx of Japanese players has been about the same before and after he left, i.e., nonexistent.) And regardless of how good Chadd, Garcia and Moore were (and are), there’s a difference between scouting and signing guys and helping to decide who to trade, who to keep, and how to construct a major league roster. Scouts are involved in the former, not the latter.
These scouts might be missed in the future; there also might be scouts just as good already in the Sox’s system. We won’t know that for another couple of years. That’s often the case in baseball: the full impact of decisions made today can’t be truly (and honestly) evaluated until a couple of years down the line. I should — and do — know this; it’s why, for months, I’ve argued that we won’t be able to talk about the non-signing of Pedro and Damon until their contracts are completed. I fell prey to the same thinking I often criticize: wanting to find the answer to a question prematurely.
Oh well. I’ve always said mistakes are inevitable in life; the important thing is to acknowledge them. So I’m acknowledging. Live and learn.