Ben Cherington has a lot to do. We at Ted's Army thought we'd take a shot at giving him some options for a game plan. This week we'll take turns explaining our steps to righting the proverbial ship. First up: Scott Priest.
I think we can all agree that the Red Sox are terrible.
But not long ago, things weren't so bad. I don't necessarily mean last year -- that appeared to be fool's gold. But for the better part of the last decade, the Red Sox have had a clear plan and have executed on it. Since 2002, look at these win totals: 93, 95, 98, 95, 86, 96, 95, 95, 89, 90, 69.
(It's still crazy to see that last one.)
Many players came and went, but for the most part that leadership had a steady plan and they followed through on it. As far as I can tell, the plan hinged on three things: Hitters with plate discipline, an ace at the front of the rotation, and believing in pedigree.
Hitters with plate discipline is self-explanatory, but just to prove it to you, these were their OBPs for the same period I mentioned above: .345, .360, .360, .357, .351, .362, .358, .352, .339, .349, .315. You don't to be a genius to see what I'm getting at. The team lost its way at the plate at the same time it lost its direction to the playoffs. I'm not saying it's the end-all, be-all, but it sure helps.
An ace at the front of the rotation, is, again, self-explanatory. In 2004, the Red Sox top player in WAR was Curt Schilling. In 2007, it was Josh Beckett. Gee, what was common in those years?
Believing in pedigree. This gets at what really happened this year, which was that the organization simply broke down. When Theo and Tito were running things, they both believed in pedigree. Theo believed in reclamation projects -- our own Jarrod Saltalamacchia being a great example, along with some hits and misses (Jeremy Giambi, Andrew Miller, etc.). Tito, meanwhile, believed in it in a slightly different way: He kept the lineup steady day in and day out, famously sticking with players who fell out of favor in key spots (Mark Bellhorn in the '04 playoffs, for example.
It's not so much that any of these elements is the key for a turnaround, but they all speak to the idea of having a plan. The 2010-2012 Red Sox were not put together with a plan in mind. I don't care to point figures, but it's just true. They overspent on free agents that didn't solve the above needs (Carl Crawford is no OBP champ; John Lackey is no ace) and failed to develop talent after the influx of Pedroia and Ellsbury.