Around the MajorsOctober 17, 2007
Playoff Blog - 10/17/2007
By The Baseball Analysts Staff

After last night's defeat I am not sure I have a whole lot to muster. At this point all I can say is that Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek, Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo, and more specifically their .198/.228/.252 performance thus far in the post-season (136 PA's), have just about done me in.

Paul Byrd offered the blueprint for beating the Red Sox these days - just throw strikes. Boston's hitters are patient, and excellent when they get ahead in the count. It's a whole other story when they get behind. This is true of most hitters, but then most hitters are not as patient as Boston's. The difference for the Red Sox over and above most teams is not necessarily in hitting ability (save Ortiz and Manny) but rather approach. Take their ability to sit dead-red up in the count and Boston's hitters turn to...well...they hit like so many of them did last night.

- Patrick Sullivan, 10/17, 8:32 AM EDT


With the exception of Pedroia, that is a pretty well compensated group you are talking about. Unless something changes radically in this series (and that is still very much a possibility) I don't think you can call last offseason Theo's finest.

I grew up a Yankee fan and so felt any year without a World Championship was incomplete. But in 1976, for example, Willie Randolph hit .118/.250/.118 in the playoffs and then .071/.133/.071 in the 4 game Reds sweep of the Yankees in the Series. Still, even then I would not have suggested that Gabe Paul had not had a terrific off-season.

The notion that failure in the post-season is an indictment of the front office or the manager makes little sense. Theo's off-season work was outstanding, regardless, and the Red Sox 96 regular season wins proves it.

@ Bob:

"Theo's off-season work was outstanding, regardless, and the Red Sox 96 regular season wins proves it."

No, it proves that they had an excellent team the year before...

I'd hardly call Dice-K and Drew's acquisitions outstanding. At $170 million, I'd probably call them poor.

The Red Sox jumped on the Angels in the division series playoffs. They did it by swinging the bat and running the bases well. The Indians are not necessarily playing "great" baseball but are doing the small things right. Even if Pedroia is hitting below .200 in the series (3/16), the outs he has made were nearly hits (line-drive back to C.C.). He is batting .400 if things go the Sox way. I believe Theo is a mastermind in putting together a winning team and organization. Having three bad games in a row should not call for critizism on the Red Sox, just remember, they have Josh Beckett (5-1) pitching game 5. Manny and Papi are two of the games best hitters, they have been in this situation before. I think the pressure is all on the Indians, their two young pitchers, and inexperienced line-up with the exception of Kenny Lofton and he shouldn't beat you single-handedly. So wait for Game 5 before you start critizing two great off-season moves. If not the Red Sox, they would have been Yankees.

But the post-season team is the same one that won 96 games in the season so losing 3 games to a terrific Indians club hardly indicts Theo's off-season moves. The point remains; it is nonsensical to evaluate a front office by the performance of a team in the post-season.

It is also nonsensical to evaluate a front office by listing some apparent errors without context. For example, in 2006, the off-season acquisition of Beckett looked like a huge error, but I doubt any Boston fan thinks that now, even with Hanley's emergence. Similarly, the acquisition of Matsuzaka can hardly be labeled a mistake, particularly in light of the concurrent acquisition of Okijama.

The evaluation has to be on the performance of a team over a period of time, and by that standard, Theo has been one of the most effective GMs in the majors and continued to add to his reputation in 2007.

Um, Boston fans? I'll certainly give you that it is early to write off Dice-K based on one season (although, given his cost, it is hard to see how his regular season was not a disappointment). Drew is another story, however. And to say that Theo has been one of the more effective GMs completely disregards the huge advantage that he (or Cashman, or Minaya -- who would have been the one with Dice-K, Paul)has over most others.

Boston fan!!!!! I have rooted for the Yankees since 1950. Recognizing his ability has nothing to do with being a fan.

As for his advantage in budget, certainly it is an advantage, but not a determining one. The issue is how he uses it and what approaches he takes to building a team. And on that score, he is in the top echelon of GMs both now and historically.

I agree that the deals for Lugo and Drew will probably look unwise. But you can only evaluate a decision based on context and on what should be known at the time. Drew has always been considered a disappointment, but has had some solid years and when healthy, some excellent ones. It was a gamble, no doubt, but a reasonable one. And he was definitely an improvement over Nixon/Pena, even though his power numbers were so poor.

Lugo too had played well except for his brief period with the Dodgers. And the Red Sox needed a major league shortstop, which he appeared to be. Again, although his second half was not bad, he disappointed, but his acquisition made sense.

Note too that in 2006 the Red Sox missed the playoffs. Not only did they make them in 2007, but they did so by adding 10 wins to their total and winning the division for the first time in many years. Perhaps that was not entirely due to Theo's work, maybe it was even despite him, but looking at the comment that started this thread, it seems a bit perverse given those facts to suggest that this off-season was somehow a poor one for Epstein.