Talkin Sox with Dan

Where baseball fans gather for commonsensical, opinionated Red Sox banter.

Catching up with the Red Sox on a Patriots Sunday

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It’s been a quietly busy offseason for GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox. Boston won the Hot Stove League last year with the additions of Carl Crawford through free agency and Adrian Gonzalez via trade. Unfortunately for the 2011 Red Sox, the real hardware isn’t handed out until late October. This winter lacks the glitz and glamor of yesteryear, but Cherington is working under starkly different conditions than former GM Theo Epstein. Cherington is in his first year as General Manager, whereas Epstein had firmly cemented his position as one of the game’s best executives. More importantly, Cherington is working under a relatively tight budget. If Epstein was given $100 by John Henry in 2011, Cherington’s allowance is $10 this year. So far, I have nothing but quality reviews for the first year GM. He has orchestrated two trades that brought the Red Sox quality, low cost arms in Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon. Both players will work to fill vacancies in the bullpen left by Jonathan Papelbon and, presumably, Daniel Bard. Cherington’s latest move is the trade of starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for a pitcher who will likely be in Pawtucket to begin the year. You don’t need to be Peter Gammons to know that this move was purely a salary dump. There has to be another card up Cherington’s sleeve. It would be like Danny Ainge trading for Ray Allen in 2007 and not getting Kevin Garnett. I’m not expecting baseball’s version of the Big Ticket coming to the Red Sox, but I’ll take Roy Oswalt.

I hope everyone enjoys their Sunday as the Patriots shoot for another Super Bowl bid. Meaningful football being played in New England late in January serves as a hell of a distraction during the Red Sox offseason.

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7 thoughts on “Catching up with the Red Sox on a Patriots Sunday

  1. I don’t know which team is better defensively on the left side but both are pretty bad. On the other hand, they’re both elite on the right side of the infield defensively.

  2. Both teams do have solid right sides. I’m interested to see how the SS situation plays out.

  3. I don’t think the $100 allowance to Epstein, $10 to Cherington analogy quite makes it. The new CBA really puts pressure on sticking to the budget. I’m not enough of an accountant or lawyer to figure it all out, but baseball’s economy has changed radically. Cherington’s caution is justified.

  4. Ed, thank you for commenting. I think you and I are on the same page here without knowing it. In 2012, if/when the Red Sox go above the luxury tax threshold of $178MM, they will be taxed 40% on each dollar they go over. Like you, I am not an accountant or a lawyer. I just try to make the most sense of things that I can.

    With that said, last offseason, Theo Epstein had more fiscal mobility than Ben Cherington does this year. I, unlike a lot of Sox fans, do not blame Cherington for not snagging a big name free agent. In fact, I applaud him for making the moves he’s made (trading for Melancon and Bailey) on a limited budget.

    I do think my allowance reference is fair. John Henry (and the rest of ownership) is keenly aware of the penalties that will be incurred if the team goes over the luxury tax threshold. Therefore, Cherington is given an amount of money he can spend this offseason. If it was up to Cherington, I’m sure he would have kept Scutaro and simply signed Cody Ross (and potentially a SP). However, he needed to free up space in the budget (via Scutaro) in order to address other needs.

    Your point is well-taken nonetheless. I believe that even if Epstein was still the GM of the Red Sox he too would be working underneath a budget set forth by ownership based on the want/need to stay below (or near) the luxury tax threshold.

    • Hi Dan: If I’m not mistaken there are things counting towards payroll under the new CBA that weren’t counted before such as signing bonuses. Epstein would be spending more frugally in the new Baseball World Order of necessity. That is probably a good thing in the long run. I like the idea of home grown talent and winning because management is smarter, rather than richer. Nobody can outspend the Yankees, but management can be a lot smarter than the Steinbrenners have been.

  5. Ed: I think you’re right. I just don’t like to listen to people say that the Red Sox should be spending more. The luxury tax threshold is $178MM. They’re going to exceed that this year. Adrian Gonzalez made $6.3MM last season. He is set to make $21MM this year. There a few examples of guys who have contracts that really begin to amp up this year. The link below is a good article that breaks down why it is a bit silly to accuse the Red Sox of not opening their wallet. And I do agree that the Red Sox (just like most teams) would much rather bring players up through their system: They’re under control and very affordable.

    • Hi Dan: The problem with overspending is that a GM can’t stop it quickly. Decisions made this year carry into the budget years down the road when the penalties will be more severe. When do payments to Manny run out? 2022? 2024?

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