The Red Sox Freed Up Money To Sign…Cody Ross?

There’s a strange enthusiasm about the Red Sox signing of Cody Ross.

Here are the facts:

Unless they have another acquisition or deal on the burner, exchanging Marco Scutaro for Ross made no sense.

It’s easier to find an outfield bat for $3 million or less than it is to find a shortstop that can catch the ball and is as productive at the plate as Scutaro was.

The Scutaro trade was a salary dump. Those suggesting that the Red Sox saw “something” in Clayton Mortensen are hedging their bets in case Mortensen gets to Boston and becomes useful—they don’t want to have their words flung back at them. He’s on organization number four—a journeyman—who walks as many batters as he strikes out. He’s an inexpensive long-reliever with a minor league option remaining.

Basically, the Red Sox took half the money they saved on Scutaro, weakened shortstop and signed an extra piece in Ross. They’d have been better off signing Kosuke Fukudome or Rick Ankiel.

And I say this liking Cody Ross because he’s a tough player with pop.

He’s just an odd fit for a Red Sox team that needs another veteran starting pitcher more than exchanging Scutaro for Ross.

This is what the Red Sox just purchased.

Ross is a mistake hitter who, when a pitcher gives him a fastball in a spot he can handle, will take it over the Green Monster. For the most part, he hits the ball back up the middle and his main claim to fame is that he hammers Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels.

Halladay and Hamels aren’t pitching in the AL East.

Ryan Sweeney hits lefties really well, so one would assume that Ross and Sweeney will share right field.

I would not have traded Scutaro for Ross, and I definitely wouldn’t have traded Scutaro for a Ross who’s only going to play against left-handed pitchers.

They paid $3 million for a fourth outfielder who’s going to get 300 at bats.

If payroll constraints weren’t affecting the Red Sox maneuverings, I’d say go ahead and sign Ross as an extra bat; but they are affecting the Red Sox maneuverings and the money should’ve been allocated elsewhere since Scutaro was traded specifically to free up half of it.

Ross is an okay player. He plays good defense in the outfield, can play all three positions and is a feisty competitor. He doesn’t walk and strikes out a lot.

If they decided that he was more valuable than Scutaro—playing a harder position to fill—then I have to question where they’re getting their metrics and scouting judgments…or who’s making these determinations.

Back to the Duquette days.

New GM Ben Cherington began his career with the Red Sox under former GM Dan Duquette and worked closely with Epstein.

I seriously doubt he would choose the Duquette method of fill-in veterans around stars rather than a deep, strong foundation in building his club, but that’s what’s happening and it has the fingerprints of Larry Lucchino all over it.

The Red Sox are not giving Cherington the blank check or the freedoms his predecessor Epstein had. Epstein accumulated the cachet to go to ownership and get the budget expanded to acquire expensive veterans if he said he needed them. After the debacle of 2011, Cherington does not have that ability. He also has Lucchino meddling in team construction and was nudged to hire a manager, Bobby Valentine, he clearly didn’t want.

Let’s call this what it is.

The Red Sox are no longer operating with a plan in place, but are doing things based on haphazard edicts and a regression to the dysfunction that was a hallmark of the club before Epstein took charge.

This is not a good thing.

Duct tape and glued, divergent blueprints

The Red Sox have enough talent to maintain competitiveness, but there’s an air of desperation to “do something” along with financial demands and overt interference from the non-baseball people as if the crumbling fortunes from 2011 were a signal that the baseball ops had lost their collective abilities to do their jobs.

It’s easily forgotten that Epstein never wanted to spend, spend, spend to keep up with the Yankees; the demands of winning evolved to its logical conclusion as anything short of a World Series win became known as failure and the baseball people reacted accordingly and mistakenly.

They spent and overspent on “names”, shunning or dispatching the farm system that was one of the keys to putting the championship teams together in the first place.

Now, rather than intelligently repairing what ails them, they hired Valentine; they traded more young players for Andrew Bailey and Sweeney; they signed Ross.

They’re using duct tape in an attempt to patch the flaws and return to their winning ways.

But there’s nothing coherent. They’re filling in the potholes without fixing them. Multiple factions are gluing together separate blueprints—and that’s very hard to navigate successfully.

They’re all over the place in their decisions and implementations.

It shows on their roster and, unless they have some diabolical scheme ready to be unleashed, it’s going to show on the field as well.

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  1. #1 by Matt on January 24, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    I just figured the Sox were comfortable that they could get nearly just as much from Mike Aviles as they were going to get from Scutaro. The Rockies are going to use him as a 2b which is good since at age 36 and with a bad shoulder that he played through last year his throws from short were labored. The drop-off to Aviles shouldn’t be too bad, though I could be wrong.

    • #2 by admin on January 25, 2012 - 1:52 am

      I have no problem with them trading Scutaro—the Red Sox will be okay with Punto/Aviles—but trading Scutaro to clear money and spending that money on Cody Ross? It makes no sense.
      The Rockies needed a 2nd baseman and Scutaro can hit. For Clayton Mortensen, you can’t lose.

  2. #3 by andrew on January 25, 2012 - 9:24 pm

    Aviles is not a fix at shortstop. He has poor range and I would agree that the Red Sox moves appear haphazard. Lucchino has always wanted more to do with picking players and managers then he should and in part that drove Epstein out of town. Cody Ross does not have great plate discipline, something the Red Sox seemed to care a great deal about up until the Crawford signing. They do seem more like they are becoming a Duquette like team. A few stars, some aging vets and likely another third place finish.

    • #4 by admin on January 25, 2012 - 11:28 pm

      Epstein pretty much had Lucchino at bay. If he wanted to stay for the final year of his contract, he’d have been in charge without interference from Lucchino. But once Lucchino saw that he had his opening to get rid of Epstein, he jumped at it. For someone with Lucchino’s ego to have been essentially castrated to placate Epstein must’ve eaten away at him for the past six years.
      I don’t blame the Red Sox ownership for wanting to make a managerial change—if a team spends that amount of money and does pretty much whatever the GM and manager wanted and it ends as it did for them in 2011, they have a right to examine what went wrong and bring someone else in.
      It became clear what was going on when Valentine became a candidate. When he got the job, that was all Lucchino.
      If they’d signed Ross as an extra player, then okay; but to use the money they saved on Scutaro to weaken themselves defensively and sign a player like Ross? It made no sense.

  3. #5 by DirtyWater on January 26, 2012 - 6:09 am

    You kind of left out some of the reasoning…first off Carl Crawford is injured; to what extent who knows. Opening day and hoping for a Darnell McDonald/Ellsbury/Sweeney OF to step up isn’t a great option. Ultimatly the Red Sox are waiting on Ryan Kalish but injury has him doubtful for opening day as well.
    Secondly the Red Sox hate the luxury tax. They really really think their model of expand and contract ie developing from within will work while trading for needs and paying on value over market rates will work over the checkbook. Good luck with that one. The Yankees while publically stating so don’t care about the tax until its start cutting into the revenue sharing rebates. Sox expand and contract method better with the beancounters long term but doesn’t sell well with the fans who get stroked for a trip to Fenway to watch a September collapse.
    Thirdly, Are the Red Sox gonna resign Marco Scutaro? He’s 36 and a SS. He’s not the future. Grab something for him because there won’t be any type B protection from here out. Mortenson while not really the #4 they need is a #5 candidate with plenty of mlb experience when last season theyre forced to offer Kyle Weiland’s head on a block repeatedly.

    I don’t get the whole ‘duct tape’ thing. There aren’t really that many holes over other teams (see if you can find a few more on paper on last years world champs) and their main problem is the parts aren’t working together. Guys like Cody Ross aren’t duct tape in the lockeroom; theyre crazy glue.

    • #6 by admin on January 26, 2012 - 3:08 pm

      What is the future?
      If they were a team that was retooling, then fine trade Scutaro and stick Iglesias in the lineup and let him play. They’re not. They hired Bobby Valentine and gave him a 2-year contract; they traded for a set-up man and closer and are now looking to get Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt shor-term on the cheap. Whether or not they were going to re-sign Scutaro is irrelevant. If any team is using Mortensen as something other than a long-reliever/swing-starter, they’ve got more problems than they realize. It was a salary dump for a warm body, plain and simple.
      If the fans have become so fickle that they throw a tantrum when the team doesn’t win the World Series and starts complaining about having to pay to get into the park, then it’s indicative of why the Red Sox altered the plot from building from within, operating on a budget and enduring a few lean years to mitigate the valleys that come along with the peaks. They’re trying to keep up with the Yankees and in that division with the Rays and Blue Jays, it’s not going to be as easy as signing Cody Ross.
      The Cardinals are irrelevant to the argument. They themselves made the playoffs due to a collapse and got hot at the right time. If, in July of 2012, the Red Sox are in the same position as the Cardinals were at the deadline last season, they’re going to be 15 games out of 1st place and 10 out of the Wild Card with no hope of catching anyone.

      • #7 by DirtyWater on January 26, 2012 - 8:18 pm

        Igleasias has fewer than 1000 AB in the minors. You think giving him 600 in the majors is gonna somehow help? He’s the SS of the future with Xander Boegarts tugging at his shoestrings. Or they jump in the Hanley lottery. Who knows.
        Another doom and gloom guy on the Red Sox I see. So what EXACTLY was the problem with the Boston Red Sox last season? Was it really lack of production in RF? No. Sox still had the most potent offense in the league. Do your numbers Ross/Sweeney add up alot better than the production they got out of the position last year.

        The Sox problems were stemed from the fact no one had their hands on the wheel, and the pitching coach was a name on the door who wanted back to the left coast and didn’t care about the guys he was hired to keep out of the chicken and beer. All these look the other way org types are gone.Some not all of the team ‘leadership’ are gone; the rest are on notice. Hard nosed winners like Punto and Ross add a new dynamic to the clubhouse.

        If the Cards are irrelevant because they got where they got due to a collapse who says a lack of a collapse doesn’t put the Sox there? Yankees offense did nothing but age in the offseason. Rays never had it to begin with. Yanks sat atop the division with a lousy back end rotation last year, the only thing the Sox rotation has to do is play to potencial and they have a better 123 than the Yankees.

      • #8 by admin on January 26, 2012 - 8:58 pm

        Their lineup could carry Iglesias unless he embarrasses himself, but Valentine is not going to play a rookie shortstop while he’s working on a 2-year contract.
        The Red Sox problems in 2011 stemmed from injuries, lack of depth and performance in the starting rotation and overworking the bullpen. Now they’re already going to be dealing with an adversarial situation with the new manager and haven’t done anything to repair their starting pitching problems. Offense is not the problem even if they played Kalish in right field; Sweeney can hit. They didn’t need Ross at the expense of bringing in a viable starting pitcher.

      • #9 by DirtyWater on January 26, 2012 - 9:07 pm

        So they trade Scutaro..helps with the depth but hardly a one for one value no doubt. Sign Ross because he lines up with Sweeney nicely in RF and can start for Crawford wrist.

        Where’s the detriment to pitching? Sox still putting out offers on starters but now their agents know they have less cash to spend if you ignore the reports that there is no mandate from ownership to be under the luxtax cap.

        So in the end they probably get their starter at a better price AND make a difference in RF.

      • #10 by admin on January 27, 2012 - 12:03 am

        And the agents care how much money the Red Sox can fit into their budget why? If they can’t pay their client, they’ll bring their client elsewhere.

  4. #11 by DirtyWater on January 27, 2012 - 5:42 pm

    Because the music is stopping and theyre running out of chairs. If an agent has a fit for a player in a role with a team he’s more likely to advise a signing for what can be fit into budget than a holdout which ultimatly will get him even less once the music stops.

    How far is Edwin Jackson’s price fallen? Is he really gonna garnish the big contract he wants after a seson in KC for popcorn? Better to take a one year for peanuts in Boston on the national stage.

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