Royal Rooters: If the Sox don't make the playoffs who deseves the most blame? - Royal Rooters

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If the Sox don't make the playoffs who deseves the most blame?

Poll: The blame game (23 member(s) have cast votes)

Who deserves the most blame?

  1. Theo (8 votes [34.78%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 34.78%

  2. Tito (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. Theo and Tito equally (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  4. Starting Pitchers (11 votes [47.83%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 47.83%

  5. Relief Pitchers (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  6. Nobody, it was bad luck/injuries (4 votes [17.39%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 17.39%

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#1 User is online  
BigSlick 

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 11:33 PM

Injuries are always part of the game, and the Sox injuries have been pretty bad to this point, but with that said, there's no way on Earth that Kyle Weiland should be a playoff caliber team's best option to start any meaningful September game, so I blame Theo.
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Posted 25 September 2011 - 09:19 AM

I also give Theo most of the blame, with the starting pitching sharing a portion of it, along with Tito. Tito has to put the team he's been handed on the field. Over the past several years Theo has made a number of bad moves, in my opinion. This team is a collection of "parts" that still hasn't managed to function as a whole. It is too left-handed. Theo has made bad decisions with long-term contracts, and he's also made bad decisions with "rental" players. Victor Martinez comes to mind... Tito's main failure this year was to get the team in shape during spring training. They were not ready to play on Opening Day. ST was used for minor league tryouts and the regulars did not get enough at bats or work in the field. Maybe that was the front office's doing, but it definitely showed in April. A lot of players came to ST out of shape, and they went into the season with an almost 'entitled' attitude that they were going to win it all this year. Meanwhile the starting pitching failed miserably. Maybe we should be thinking about coaching here?
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Wakefield 49 

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 12:12 PM

I go with Theo, with the players a close second. Normally I don't like to blame anyone but the players in baseball (football is different, coaching is a huge factor), but the complete lack of starting pitching depth is 100% on Theo. He knew it in spring training and even talked about it, but did nothing all year to address it.

That being said, if Beckett and Lester had been even 80% of what they should be lately, the Sox would have clinched by now.
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The Ghost of Ned Martin 

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 12:51 PM

Theo definitely deserves most of the blame since his personnel decisions have, frankly, been piss poor recently. Cameron, Lackey, Crawford, Jenks. That's just over the past two seasons. We all know there is a list longer than my substantial sex organ of other busts when you back over his entire tenure.

That said, the players deserve a crap load of blame as well. I recall reading a statistic recently regarding the team's record when trailing after 7 innings. It was incredibly bad. I couldn't find the most recent stat but as of 6/9, the record was 1-23. To me that is indicative of a mentally weak team, unable to respond well when things go wrong. I think we can all agree that the teams play over the past few weeks reinforces that perception. It speaks to a lack of leadership. Francona has to share in that as well, but it is up to the players to respond. Instead they seem to tuck their collective tales between their legs when faced with adversity.

Theo (and ownership) need to do a better job of understanding which players will flourish in this atmosphere and which ones will Crawford. That's what Theo and his baseball people are paid to do. They have failed way too often in this regard.
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BigSlick 

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 01:17 PM

View PostThe Ghost of Ned Martin, on 25 September 2011 - 12:51 PM, said:

Theo definitely deserves most of the blame since his personnel decisions have, frankly, been piss poor recently. Cameron, Lackey, Crawford, Jenks. That's just over the past two seasons. We all know there is a list longer than my substantial sex organ of other busts when you back over his entire tenure.

That said, the players deserve a crap load of blame as well. I recall reading a statistic recently regarding the team's record when trailing after 7 innings. It was incredibly bad. I couldn't find the most recent stat but as of 6/9, the record was 1-23. To me that is indicative of a mentally weak team, unable to respond well when things go wrong. I think we can all agree that the teams play over the past few weeks reinforces that perception. It speaks to a lack of leadership. Francona has to share in that as well, but it is up to the players to respond. Instead they seem to tuck their collective tales between their legs when faced with adversity.

Theo (and ownership) need to do a better job of understanding which players will flourish in this atmosphere and which ones will Crawford. That's what Theo and his baseball people are paid to do. They have failed way too often in this regard.


Crawford is the one deal that I cut him some slack on. There were many people (not me, but many) that were more excited about the addition of Crawford than they were about getting Gonzalez. I still think there's hope for him to bounce back next year. I don't have that same hope for Lackey.
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rominer 

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 03:55 PM

How much can you really blame anyone for the starting pitching depth?

At the start of the year, they had 5 starters, plus Wakefield and Aceves, plus the Andrew Miller project in Pawtucket. They had Brandon Duckworth and Tony Pena stashed in Pawtucket. Later they added Kevin Millwood. Those are the kind of veterans you can sign to minor league deals. What other starting pitching depth can you expect there? Good Major League pitchers aren't going to sign minor league deals with teams that already have at least 6 starters with secure spots on the opening day roster.

In AAA, Felix Doubront has some MLB experience but didn't have a great year. Kyle Weiland had a solid year but has proven not to be MLB ready yet. There aren't any other starting pitching prospects in the high minors.

They traded for Bedard, who proceeded to get hurt again but even so, he's been better than Rich Harden. He's been better than Ubaldo Jimenez, who would have come at a much steeper price.

The front office has to take the blame for overpaying Lackey but, while there was no reason to think that he would live up to that contract, there was also no reason to think that he would be anywhere near as awful as he's been. He should have been a solid #3 or #4. There was no way to know that Matsuzaka would blow out his elbow. No way to know that Buchholz would miss 2/3 of the season with what didn't even seem like a serious injury at the time.

But it still comes down to injuries and individual players just not performing.

It's easy to say that Kyle Weiland shouldn't be starting meaningful games down the stretch for this team but, then, who else should be?
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SFFM38 

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 04:09 PM

Hey Rominer, do you think Sox could afford Matt Kemp for 2012? I think they could with Drew,Wakefield,Matsuzaka contracts coming off I will be impressed if Theo can get Matt Kemp and a couple of quality pitchers for 2012 and that doesn't include Wade Miller, Jason Johnson, John Smoltz , David Wells , etc ( low $$$ high rewards strategies ) kind of crap!

This post has been edited by SFFM38: 25 September 2011 - 04:13 PM

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rominer 

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 04:47 PM

Kemp's not a free agent until after next season...but as far as what the Sox can do next year in general:

Matsuzaka is still on the books for one more year

Wakefield and Varitek could be gone or could be back, I don't think it has much effect on payroll either way.

The big things to me: Other than Drew, the big money coming off the books is Papelbon and Ortiz. With the seasons that those two players have had, I would expect the Sox to at least try to bring them back. If they can't or don't retain either of those players, then that's a lot of money freed up (assuming that ownership is willing to maintain this level of payroll).

The other part of that equation is Ellsbury. He's not a free agent until 2014, and everyone assumes that because he's a Boras client he already has one foot out the door. I have no idea, but I expect that the Sox will at least take a crack at working out a long-term deal that buys out his remaining arbitration years in exchange for not paying him quite like a 40 SB, 30 HR, 100 RBI leadoff hitter. And if those efforts fail, are they going to budget for trying to keep him when he hits the open market, or are they going to start planning for his replacement?
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acr 

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 06:04 PM

Starting pitching has been absurdly and irrationally underperforming. Even sure things like Jon Lester and Beckett are getting shelled.

Theo didn't build a perfect team by any means(I hated Crawford then, and I hate him now...should've gone with Werth), but to his credit he went out and tried to bring in some depth, getting Aviles who has covered well for Youk while he's been hurt, and Bedard, who is about as good a pitcher as you can expect to get at the deadline in a seller's market year.

Tito's not a great in-game manager, but putting an 11 game collapse squarely on his shoulder is wrong, and firing him would be the biggest mistake this franchise has made in decades. I don't think the lineup should get a free pass either. They're productive "enough" that with even semi-quality starting pitching we'd be fine, but has Adrian Gonzalez done anything but ground into double plays in the second half of the year? I know that's harsh considering his bad second half would be considered great for most players, but we should've gotten more production out of a guy we invested so much in.

Starting pitching is completely to blame. I don't know if it has anything to do with Curt Young replacing John Farrell, but this rotation is retarded. In the entire month of September, we've had one "quality start". Even crappy teams with little talent get more than that...it's some kind of irrational fluke of nature, maybe they're all injured, or badly coached, but this defies all reason.

And I will defend the bullpen. Papelbon, Bard, Aceves, and Morales all rate as well above replacement level pitchers, and between Albers' first half and Wheeler's second, we've had a fifth guy there who was at least average. The fact is that the starters can't get out of the 5th inning, the relievers we want to avoid using are pitching too much, and they're coming into losing situations. Daniel Bard has been great this year, but people have been freaking out because the 4 times he does give up a base hit a month, it scores two runs and usually costs us the lead because he's always being put into those bad situations.

There is no reason for Jon Lester, who is supposedly healthy, to be getting shelled this often. There's no reason for Beckett to be blowing his leads late in games. There's no reason for John Lackey to be the worst pitcher in baseball. There's no reason that Wakefield should somehow manage to not win a game for over 7 weeks. These things shouldn't be happening, but they are. The rotation is completely to blame for this collapse, there's no question about it. I don't know the inside info, but I'd expect Curt Young to fall on the sword for it this offseason.
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Posted 25 September 2011 - 07:52 PM

When Epstein first started as a young GM he surrounded himself with from what I read some very experienced Scouts. Since, I don't know who has left but from the outside I'll bet Epstein does very little hands on scouting which leads me to say, should the house cleaning begin with the scouting department who I'm sure has input on most if not all of these free-agent signings and or trades.

I believe I read a column not long ago about ABaird being on the hot seat? Who I believe is in charge of scouting? Would anyone know?

From what I can see, Epstein did quite well with payroll under 100 million. Now, since several of his under bosses are gone. Well its a cluster F#ck...
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Kid T 

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:05 PM

View Postacr, on 25 September 2011 - 06:04 PM, said:


Theo didn't build a perfect team by any means(I hated Crawford then, and I hate him now...should've gone with Werth)

Werth hasn't exactly had a great year. While his numbers are currently better than Crawford's, he's doing it in the NL. No telling how they would translate into the AL (or what his temperament would have been competing in the AL East). I'll take the younger Crawford and count on him earning (at least most of) his contract in the future years. Maybe it's my bias, but I can see Werth breaking down and performing like Jason Bay.
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Hail Cesar 

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 07:26 AM

View Postrominer, on 25 September 2011 - 03:55 PM, said:

How much can you really blame anyone for the starting pitching depth?

At the start of the year, they had 5 starters, plus Wakefield and Aceves, plus the Andrew Miller project in Pawtucket. They had Brandon Duckworth and Tony Pena stashed in Pawtucket. Later they added Kevin Millwood. Those are the kind of veterans you can sign to minor league deals. What other starting pitching depth can you expect there? Good Major League pitchers aren't going to sign minor league deals with teams that already have at least 6 starters with secure spots on the opening day roster.

In AAA, Felix Doubront has some MLB experience but didn't have a great year. Kyle Weiland had a solid year but has proven not to be MLB ready yet. There aren't any other starting pitching prospects in the high minors.

They traded for Bedard, who proceeded to get hurt again but even so, he's been better than Rich Harden. He's been better than Ubaldo Jimenez, who would have come at a much steeper price.

The front office has to take the blame for overpaying Lackey but, while there was no reason to think that he would live up to that contract, there was also no reason to think that he would be anywhere near as awful as he's been. He should have been a solid #3 or #4. There was no way to know that Matsuzaka would blow out his elbow. No way to know that Buchholz would miss 2/3 of the season with what didn't even seem like a serious injury at the time.

But it still comes down to injuries and individual players just not performing.

It's easy to say that Kyle Weiland shouldn't be starting meaningful games down the stretch for this team but, then, who else should be?


I think I made a similar argument in a game-day thread. Rom's right. This team started out the season with decent starting pitching depth. There's not much you can do, however, about injuries to 2 of your 5 starters and injuries/underperformance of your AAA/minors guys who would have been expected to come in and perform at least to the major league average (Doubront, Miller, Weiland, and even Pimental (who had a horrible season) come to mind). I was a huge supporter of Miller either as a starter or as a bullpen arm, but, unfortunately, the guy's still got some work to do with his control, so who knows whether he'll ever live up to the hype.

That being said, I'd put the September blame on the starters and relievers who didn't get the job done. I mean, Bard was great most of the season, but then hit a huge wall and probably lost about 6 games for the Red Sox in September alone. Add that to the rest of the relievers not named Papelbon or Aceves pretty much underperforming and you've got a really crappy situation. Maybe some of the blame here should be on Tito, but who's he gonna throw out there when they're all sucking?

I think the one thing that a lot of people forget about is that the Red Sox were in first place in the AL East and might have still had the most wins in the AL (if I'm remembering correctly) in late August and the beginning of September. If the Red Sox get to the playoffs, then they're gonna have to wake up when September ends.
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Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:21 AM

View Postacr, on 25 September 2011 - 06:04 PM, said:

I don't know the inside info, but I'd expect Curt Young to fall on the sword for it this offseason.


This is a great point. I was looking for Curt Young as one of the poll options. I don't know that he is definitively the problem, but he'll likely be the scapegoat. I'm not sure that we'll see him back next year. I fully expect Tito to be back. I think he has done all he can this month to get things going, but things just haven't fallen into place. He's made some sound managerial decisions that have just been thrown back into his face.

I would cut Theo a ton of slack. A lot of the moves that he has done that people think were bad actually made a lot of sense at first. Some of them just didn't pan out. Not really his fault. Edgar Renteria, for example, should have been a great signing. I thought the deal for Mike Cameron made a lot of sense at the time. He was still a guy that could hit 20HR, steal some bases and play solid defense. He was less risky than bringing Jason Bay back for a lot of years at a premium. You could not have predicted what happened with him. The John Lackey deal made some sense. He was easily the best free agent SP available that year. You figure at worst he would be a serviceable 4-5 starter and eat a lot of innings. Again, nobody could have predicted that he would be as bad as he has been (this season in particular).

Another aspect a lot of folks aren't quite touching on is the Red Sox medical staff. Now, I'm not blaming them for people getting hurt. There's obviously been some freak injuries over the past couple years. What seems to be an issue is the lack of a speedy and accurate diagnosis. I'm probably just talking out of my ass and don't fully understand what goes in the sports injury world, but how long do you really need to make the diagnosis of the Clay Buchholz stress fracture. That's just one example and I'm struggling at the moment to think of others. I don't know, maybe we're just dealing with fragile players. That seems to be where the next Moneyball-esque philosophy or movement will be headed. Drafting, trading for or signing players that have the 'durable build'. Putting some money into advanced training and conditioning techniques concentrated more on injury prevention. The games over the next decade may be won or lost in the training room. The key acquisitions might be those you include with your medical and training staffs. This is a path that the Red Sox should explore. Revamp the medical staff and bring in some people who can reinvent the sports conditioning wheel.
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Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:46 AM

I do think Tito made a few judgment errors - I don't think Beckett needed the DL trip for the foot, but I think Tito believed the playoffs were in the bag. BUT, I mean,who could possibly anticipate the sox playing .250 ball in any month, especially after the July they had?

I blame the starters. I think the BP was overused at time to compensate for crappy start after crappy start. I think Beckett and Lester have not been sharp, Bedard has been meh as well. Wakefield is Wakefield - you know what you get with him. If the ball flutters for strikes - fantastic - if not it's 5-6 runs in 5-6 innings.

I too expect Curt Young to get sh*tcanned.
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Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:55 AM

I say this as someone who has rarely had a chance to watch the Sox this year (but I can watch the Orioles all I want!) but to me its injuries, bad luck, and Carl Crawford sucking the big one all year. If they don't make the playoffs I won't be surprised, as they have not played in September like they deserve it.
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Posted 26 September 2011 - 09:59 AM

It's on the starting pitching, IMO. It's not Theo's fault that guys who came into the season as the 6th, 7th, and 10th or so starting pitching options are being forced to make meaningful starts. It's not the bullpen's fault that they've been throwing 10 million innings this month, that's because the starters can't pitch more than 4-5 innings every night.

Theo has, by and large, in my opinion, made the right moves over the last two seasons. The players have just mostly failed to perform, or been injured once they took the field. Theo has certainly overpaid guys like Crawford and Lackey, but I don't think that any honest evaluation would have expected those two to suck as horribly as they have in 2011. Risks not panning out is one thing, and that's partly on the GM, but personally I find it more reasonable to blame the individual players for their own under-performance than to blame management for buying into their previous track records. As for depth, he had significant SP depth with Wakefield-Aceves-Weiland-Doubront, it's just that 3 of them have sucked and the 4th is needed as a reliever. He went out and got Bedard at a reasonable price when needed, but I'm not sure how you defend against Beckett, Bedard, Buchholz, and Matsuzaka all being hurt simultaneously. I thought most people were quite pleased with the Jenks and Wheeler signings, but they've failed to perform in high-leverage situations, while the scrap-heap guys like Albers and Aceves have gotten the job done over large stretches of the season. If you expect Theo to be able to predict that, you should go to Vegas and make your fortune instead of throwing stones at the GM. Reddick has been life-saving depth at RF behind Drew, and even he was supposed to be behind Kalish on the depth chart before Kalish got hurt. Aviles has been a vital piece of depth down the stretch. This team would be 10 games out without the 1st half performance of Adrian Gonzalez.

I'm sorry to pick on you, Anni, but second-guessing the Victor Martinez deal 2 years after the fact just pisses me off. The 2009 team does not make the playoffs without Victor Martinez, and unless you wanted a repeat of the 2006 Javy Lopez nightmare, I'd like to know what you would have done differently with Varitek hurt and Kevin Cash as the only other catcher. If you say that the 2009 team did nothing in the end, therefore nothing should have been done months before anyone knew that would be the case, then that's just dishonest. It was the right move, AND it worked out (Martinez helped the team mash their way into October, there was no way to know they'd get swept, the point is to get to the postseason and see what happens), and people are pretending it was a mistake because the Sox had 3 bad playoff games in a row. There was no indication that Justin Masterson was going to be the STARTING pitcher that he is today, and even then he had to suck in that role for a year and a half before it happened. Even if he hadn't been traded for Martinez, there's no guarantee that Masterson would have been fed the innings *as a starter at the MLB level* that were apparently required to turn him into the stud SP that he is now. That's a trade that worked out for both parties, not a mistake. It's basically the Hanley-Beckett/Lowell deal, except the ending wasn't as sweet as in 2007. That doesn't change the value of the actual pieces that moved in that deal.
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Posted 26 September 2011 - 11:11 AM

As an aside, Lackey getting divorced (and/or his wife's cancer battles) have probably contributed to his performance.
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rominer 

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 11:49 AM

View Postghostoffoxx, on 26 September 2011 - 11:11 AM, said:

As an aside, Lackey getting divorced (and/or his wife's cancer battles) have probably contributed to his performance.


Are you the asshole who sent that text message?
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BigSlick 

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 12:07 PM

View Postrominer, on 26 September 2011 - 11:49 AM, said:

Are you the asshole who sent that text message?


Whoever sent it deserves our thanks. John Lackey is going to pull a turnaround of epic proportions. I'm talking 2004 Derek Lowe proportions, and it's all going to be due to that text message lighting a fire under his ass.
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Posted 26 September 2011 - 12:07 PM

Don't forget Eric Bedard's Bady Mama Drama. I think he's Cy Bedard without the distraction....If I filed for divorce from my cancer struck wife and did not perform my job to the already low standards of the State of Texas, I would lose my cush job.
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