More food for thought: the Rookie of the Year Awards

November 14th, 2006 → 10:52 am @ // No Comments

Yesterday, the Rookie of the Year awards were announced. In the AL, Jonathan Papelbon lost out to Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, which isn’t much of a surprise; Papelbon had a great year but also got injured, while Verlander will likely get some Cy Young consideration, pitched 118 more innings (186 to 68.3), and was a lychpin of a pennant-winning team’s rotation. (It’s interesting to note that Verlander was the second overall pick in 2004; Paps was taken in the fourth round of 2003.) Of course, that’s not all the Red Sox-related RoY news: former Sox prospect Hanley Ramirez won the NL’s award.

Hanley’s award isn’t going to dampen criticism of the front office. Ramirez, who was traded to the Marlins along with Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, made $327,000 this year, while Sanchez made less; Lowell and Beckett combined made about $13 million more in combined salaries. I’ve relied on the Sox’s desire to both get younger and gain more flexibility as an argument in favor of all sorts of Red Sox moves (trading for Coco instead of finding a way to re-sign Johnny, for instance), and, on its face, this trade seems to be an example of the exact opposite strategy.

I’ve also argued that the unique pressures of playing in Boston make being a rookie in Florida a lot different from being a rookie on the Red Sox. Would Fenway have gone into revolt if Hanley had hit below the Mendoza line for a full month, as he did for the Marlins (.190 in June)? Would Ramirez, who hit .235 versus the AL East (12 for 51), had as much success playing in the exponentially more difficult American League? For that matter, would Sanchez, who twirled a no hitter, have had a breakout year?

In September, I took both sides of this argument on successive days. (Part one of that schizophrenic debate was an excuse to talk about the Sox’s scouting department, which has gone through a considerable makeover recently.) And today? Well…I’m not sure. I do think playing in Boston is unique; on the other hand, I also see merit in the argument that if a player can’t deal with some booing by the time he reaches the majors, he’s gonna have a tough time making it…an argument that more than one members of the Sox’s baseball ops office have made to me.

I still see the rationale for last winter’s trade, which at the time was said to be one of the difference-making moves of the offseason; I also remain resolute in my belief that whatever the Red Sox happen to be doing, they’re doing it for a good reason. (That said, the Beckett trade occurred during the peak of last year’s Theo’s-gone-the-Sox-are-in-total-turmoil period, which means that a) it’s hard to use it as being representative of what the baseball ops team would have done in a vacuum and b) the notion that the move was in part an effort to distract the locals from the controversy-du-jour has to be taken into consideration. I discuss this trade — and the various possibilities therein — in the book.) Still, the totality of the team’s moves — this trade, jettisoning Arroyo (and Andy Marte and Kelly Shoppach), losing out on Damon because of what likely was a lack of aggressiveness, undervaluing and overvaluing Doug Mirabelli in the same year — will need to be considered…at some point down the road.

And by down the road, I don’t mean next month. Pedro’s defection to the Mets is a perfect example of why it’s impossible (and sometimes dishonest) to make grand pronouncements about this or that trade or free-agent signing before the totality of the decision’s repercussions have been felt, which means, just like we’ll need to wait until 2007 to fully evaluate not re-signing Pedro (a decision which a looks pretty good right about now), we’ll need to wait until 2009 to make a full reckoning of this move.

That said, the early grades on this year’s Hot Stove moves would have to give the Yankees the edge, regardless of what happens with Matsuzaka: so far, New York has essentially gotten four pitchers for free: Chris Britton, who came to New York for the $4 million the Yankees would have had to pay to buy out Jaret Wright’s contract; and former Tigers pitching prospects Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett, who will be outfitted in pinstripes after a smart option-and-trade of Gary Sheffield. (If the Tigers recent success in developing pitching talent is any indication, this could end up being a huge move a couple of years hence. And even if none of these three pan out, New York has restocked its minor league system.)

So, there you have it. A post without a clear argument on one side or the other. Like I said, food for thought.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Hanley Ramirez & Jonathan Papelbon & Josh Beckett & Red Sox ownership & Yankees

4 Comments → “More food for thought: the Rookie of the Year Awards”


    17 years ago

    Anyone who criticizes this deal now has to be honest about what they thought when it was made. I liked it. You know who really liked it? Theo-knocker Bill Simmons, that’s who. Simmons wrote an article then headed ‘Ten things I like about Josh’. The opening paragraph:

    —You know when Ebert and Roeper slap movies with their coveted “Thumbs way up!” tag? That’s how I feel about Boston’s trade for Josh Beckett, which somehow managed to wipe away all the rancor and hostility from the Epstein-Lucchino debacle faster than you could say, “Allwegaveupwere2prospects?” Now I can stuff my face on Thanksgiving in peace.—

    You can’t get the rest of the article unless you’re an ‘Insider’ subscriber, but I remember clearly one thing Simmons did was produce a long list of the Sox most highly touted prospects of the past 20 years or so, and it was amazing what forgotten names most of them were. Of course when the prospects throw no-hitters and win Rookie of the Year it can change the hindsight perspective. I’ll be watching you on this one, Bill.


  2. Mr. Furious

    17 years ago

    HFXBOB, I remember that Simmons column…

    Seth, I would not exactly say the Yankees got four pitchers for free… In the case of the Tigers, they did give up Gary Sheffield. Now, it’s true they were in the rare position of wanting to jettison one of the game’s premier offensive players. They still gave up a monster for prospects…IF the trade was going the other way people would be crying foul.

    Ironically, I don’t ike this deal as a Tigers fan. they gave up too much youth for too old of a player who is also coming off a major injury.

    Well, it was free in the sense that the Yankees had no intention of picking up his option and only did so because they were going to trade him.
    — Seth


  3. Ogie Oglethorpe

    17 years ago

    This post hits the nail on the head. The early returns on some of these moves have not been good but it IS still early. Pedro sadly has broken down. If we shelled out all of that cash for a season and a half the people who were complaining about letting him go would be saying that the Sox are not a forward thinking club. The Damon move may end up the same way. Crisp had a bad year in ’06 but does that mean that he won’t rebound in ’07? Two seasons ago Carlos Beltran was almost run out of Queens, this past season he had a MVP type of a year. I know that Crisp isn’t the same level of a talent as Beltran but the point is some of these guys need to get acclimated. I think Beckett will continue to get better. He has the talent, he just needs to make some adjustments. He also held up fairly well under a ton of scrutiny/pressure. He may have snapped at a couple of reporters but that is understandable. Now Matsuzaka will have a ton of expectations/pressure/scrutiny himself but our rotation also has Schill, Beckett, Papelbon and Wake. He won’t be expected to do the majority of the heavy lifting his first season. He could conceivably be the 4th starter. Not a bad way to easy him in to the MLB and Boston. When we brought Pedro in here, he had to carry the whole load. It is a huge difference.


  4. johnw

    17 years ago

    Some teams are consistently successful at bringing their prospects to the major-league level, while others seem to consistently fail. And it isn’t simply a matter of market size or intensity of fan base and media coverage.

    Detroit, Oakland, and Florida have a high success rate. They don’t have the big-city, big-media scrutiny; but neither do Kansas City, Pittsburgh, or San Francisco. The latter franchises rarely manage to turn potential into big-league performance. So what do the former teams do? What does, to take one obvious example, Dave Dombrowski know that could be put to use in Boston? He is a proven a master of talent development in two cities: Miami and Detroit.

    I remember a Cla Meredith comment to the effect that he never got any useful instruction or advice in Boston; he blossomed into a first-class reliever in San Diego. Set aside the market differences; what can the Sox do to ease the transition from minors to majors? I’m sure management is working very hard to answer that question. It’s probably the reason for the recent changes on the coaching staff as well as in scouting.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: