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.
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.