Fine. I was wrong. I’ll admit it. (Sweet, sweet, yummy crow.)

September 8th, 2006 → 9:38 am @

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 doesn’t mean they won’t, and the success of the young NL phenoms who cut their teeth in Pawtucket and Portland doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have struggled in the AL, or struggled in Boston’s fishbowl atmosphere (San Diego, South Florida, and Pittsburgh ain’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.

Post Categories: Red Sox front office & Scouts & sweet & Sweet crow

Are Chadd, Garcia, Eljaua, and Moore (not Cabrera, Damon, Lowe, and Martinez) the departures that have really hurt the Sox?

September 7th, 2006 → 10:23 am @

On Monday, the always illuminating Rob Bradford wrote a story about the Red Sox’s troubling tendency to trade away young talent while holding on to players that appear to be more borderline. (And: it’s actually online!)

Braford touches on a number of recent Sox minor league players who’ve been traded away — Anibal Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, Cla Meredith. (I’d add in Freddy Sanchez.) For those convinced that Boston’s front office is determined to hold on to its young, cheap talent at the expense of putting together a more expensive, veteran, go-for-it-now team, these names should be more than enough to convince anyone that’s not the case; what’s cause for concern (or at least discussion) is that these names were the ones let go. Sanchez, in his second year of MLB service, is leading the NL with a .344 average. He was the trade bait used to get Brandon Lyon, Jeff Suppan, and Anastacio Martinez from from Pittsburgh in 2003. (Supan and Lyon combined to go 7-10 with 9 saves and a collective ERA of over 5.00; neither of them made the postseason roster for the Sox.) Ramirez and Sanchez, who were sent to the Marlins for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, have been standouts in Florida: Ramirez’s stat line — .283 average, 13 HRs, 49 RBIs, 104 runs scored, and 44 stolen bases — would be good for any rookie, never mind one who can play a decent shortstop. Sanchez is 7-2 with a 2.89 ERA; last night, in just his 13th career start, he threw baseball’s first no-hitter in two years. Beckett, meanwhile, is 14-10 with an ERA of over 5.00, while Lowell’s numbers are about equal to Hanley’s. Oh, and Ramirez and Sanchez make well under a million bucks. Combined. Beckett and Lowell make well over $10 million. Finally, Meredith has gone 5-1 out of the Padres bullpen…with a Papelbon-esque ERA of 0.75.

Suffice to say, none of the young’uns the Sox have seemed so adamant about holding on to — Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia — have thus far had success comperable to their former teammates. That doesn’t mean they won’t, and the success of the young NL phenoms who cut their teeth in Pawtucket and Portland doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have struggled in the AL, or struggled in Boston’s fishbowl atmosphere (San Diego, South Florida, and Pittsburgh ain’t exactly known for their rabid fanbases). But collectively, they do raise questions about the state of the Sox’s behind the scenes operations.

Specifically, I wonder the extent to which the loss of a number of non-household name guys — scouts, talent evaluators, etc — has hurt a Red Sox front office that’s long on brains but short on on-field experience. In the last couple of years, Boston has lost Miguel Garcia, Tom Moore, and David Chadd to the Tigers, where Garcia and Moore were reunited with Dave Dombrowski, who’d been their general manager in Florida and is now their GM in Detroit. (Garcia is currently Detroit’s director of Venezuelan operations and Central American scouting; Moore is the assistant director of Latin American and professional scouting; and Chadd is the VP of amateur scouting.) Justin Verlander was scouted, drafted, and signed by this crew; so was Jonathan Papelbon. Another loss (and another former Marlins hand) was Louie Eljaua, who was big on David Ortiz because of Ortiz’s play in Dominican summer ball; Eljaua is now with the Pirates. Departures like these don’t get a lot (if any) attention; still, there are those within the Red Sox who worry about these departures and wonder the extent to which their experience and acumen is missed.

The return of Theo Epstein in spring training has meant the Sox’s baseball ops crew has retained continuity despite the departure of Josh Brynes and Peter Woodfork to Arizona in the offseason. The off-field staff of a baseball team — coaches, trainers, scouts, GMs, and on and on — contains so many moving parts, and there are so many variables that come into play when considering and nurturing young talent. But the immediate results of the Red Sox’s development machine, and the decisions the team has made about who to keep and who to trade away, has been less than ideal. Maybe it’s time to look a little further down the chain of command for some possible answers as to why this is the case.

Post Categories: Minor League talent & Red Sox front office & Scouts