Monday, September 25, 2006
``Any time you're not winning, you're not happy with the way things have gone, you look for things you could have done differently," he said, ``but no, the process was good.”
Theo made this statement to Gordon Edes at the near conclusion of the terrible series against the MFY this past August. Basically, the GM is stating that the player evaluation and decision making process that fielded a 500 club this season is “good”. Our method works; the system is solid. Hence, the 2006 outcome could either not be foreseen or that an 82-90 win/non-playoff season would be tolerable and excepted.
Based on John Henry’s early summer interview with Chet Curtis for NECN, it appears that the Sox Principal Owner had vacation plans for October 2006. "We are in a bit of a transition…We really need to make this team younger…We haven't accomplished it yet. This is sort of the first year in moving…in setting things up so that we, essentially in 2008, have very little in the way of…I think we have Papi and very little else in the way of committed salary. So we are very well set up for the future." Henry went on to say that he was surprised at the club’s first place standing at the time.
The interview was very telling as well as the following excerpt from Seth Mnookin’s book Feeding the Monster supports the notion that the Sox brass were punting this season and as it will be explored later likely 2007.
After leaving the Red Sox,
Epstein told Henry..."The reason the Red Sox never win the World Series is because they're always concerned with what the newspapers are saying," he said. "There's a sort of extreme short-term thinking, always trying to build a super-team that wins the World Series that year. They're way too concerned with the Yankees, the fans, and the media. And now that we've won the World Series, it's a great opportunity to do what's right: ignore all that and build something that will last, something for the long haul."
Mnookin then comments that Henry fully agreed with Epstein and “it became clear that he and I were completely on the same page with respect to our long-term vision for the organization,” says Epstein. Long gone is the overly public relations conscience Yawkey Way that took over our Sox back in 2002. As we all know, Theo’s return signified that his and Henry’s vision is being implemented. It seems clear that the Sox were not going for another banner in 2006. And it was the right decision.
To be considered a favorite to win a World Series, a strong core of five players is needed - two big hitters (preferably one that plays an up the middle position), two front line starters (preferably one that is a power-strikeout pitcher) and a reliever that can get more than three outs in the ninth. Of course, solid complementary players have to be in place too. Teams can certainly win a W.S. without one or two of the big five, but those clubs will not be considered favorites and unlikely to receive rings that are worth more than some earn in a year. These kinds of teams are not prudent investments.
After the 2005 season, the Sox had two (Manny and Big Papi) of the five components to be considered a championship caliber club. Schilling and Foulke leaving everything out of the field in October of 2004 and being two years older could not be thought of as locks for All-Star like production in 2006. Neither could the newly acquired Josh Beckett with his baggage (questionable health, moving to A.L. B-East, pitching half his games in the spacious Dolphins Stadium, and his overall spotty past performance minus one great night in NYC). The Red Sox brass made the right call on 2006.
Given the objective to build for beyond 2006, the upcoming posts will evaluate the Sox choices that have long-term implications based on that goal. Each will examine the facts that had to be a part of the decision making process and how that outcome fits in the organization’s objective to create a long lasting winner. The last posts will explore possible future opportunities - free agents, trades, prospects - that could contribute to the developing a title contender year-after-year.