Yes, it’s a few days late in coming, but a dead laptop has delayed my congratulations to the Boston Red Sox. The Boston nine, or rather ten since the team usually plays with a designated hitter, totally dominated in the World Series. They won games in blowouts, in close games, in pitchers’ duels and in offensive explosions. In short they dominated the World Series and disassembled the disjointed team from Colorado.
There were quite a few times during the regular season when the quality of the Red Sox was questioned. Part of that was because of a surging Yankees team who turned a double digit -- 14.5 games in late May -- deficit in the standings down to two games late in the season. Or because of solid teams who only collapsed towards the end of the season (Seattle, Detroit) and some stretches when the team was only playing about .500 ball (June, .481).
And while the Red Sox weren’t quite as good in the second half as they were in the first (.609 to .573), they were the best team in the Majors in terms of record. And while it was the players who executed, hit and pitched, and while manager Terry Francona pulled some strings, it is the front office which deserves much of the credit.
Much of that can be attributed to the efforts of GM Theo Epstein, VP of player personnel Ben Cherington, and special advisor Bill James. They are the guys who shaped, made and implemented the decisions which brought this team into its glory and are making the plans for the next generations of Red Sox teams. And it’s hard to argue with what they’ve done.
They’ve gotten lucky at times – with deals like the Josh Beckett trade with Florida when Mike Lowell, who looked like he was done career wise, was essentially forced down their throat so that the Marlins could unload his contract. It would have been a good deal, even if Lowell’s career had been over, and he hadn’t bounced back to his prior form. But one of baseball’s most famous GM’s, Branch Ricky, once said something rather astute – “Luck is the residue of design,” and you only need to look at this year’s Red Sox and the outlook for their immediate future to realize that the design of this team is strong.
And that’s a credit to the guys on the front office lines. They promoted Dustin Pedroia, they acquired Daisuke Matsuzaka for 100 million dollars, and they put Jonathan Papelbon in the closer’s role instead of in the starting rotation. They demoted Coco Crisp and brought Jacoby Ellsbury to the fore for the last month of the season and the playoffs. They made these and a hundred other decisions correctly.
No, they weren’t perfect, they made mistakes. Signing J.D. Drew to a humongous contract still has to be considered a folly, but give them credit where credit is due – even Drew was key in the playoffs.
It’s all part of a grand plan, but a flexible one, one capable to adapting to bad performances, one promoting balance and player development, and one which has to be considered successful and may be for years to come. They may not get the accolades of the players on the field, but these guys quietly go about their business of designing a winning team.
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