Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Red Sox' problem child

(Just for a little context and perspective, I wrote this a couple of years ago, when the anti-Manny fervor was at a particularly high point. As the feeding frenzy swirls - again - after Manny's decision to take yesterday's promised day-off even after the Nixon injury, it seems appropriate...)

The Boston Red Sox have got a problem. They've got a player and they don't know if they want him back or not. He's a great player, but the behavioral issues may be more trouble than they're worth.

They've got an expensive outfielder, Mr. R-, who's not as complete a player as some would like to see. He's cost them a lot of money, and will cost more in the future. And he's not the "5-tool" player that media and fans crave.

Take his defense, for example. He's an average and indifferent defender, far more concerned with hitting than with fielding. He's got a decent arm, but doesn't always throw the ball to the right place.

And then there's the baserunning. He's not a very good baserunner. He doesn't always pay attention on the bases, running into outs, getting picked off, jogging instead of sprinting on easy ground balls. Yes, he's a great hitter, but is that enough?

And there are problems off the field, as well. If you're looking for a player who's disciplined, a player who responds well to management, who respects authority, you need to look somewhere else. Mr. R- marches to the beat of his own drummeer, doing what he wants when he wants regardless of the potential impact on his teammates. Is the manager in charge of this team? Not really, at least so far as Mr. R- is concerned. He lives his own life and does his own thing. Yes, he's a great hitter, but is that enough?

Can the team survive with this kind of player? Can they succeed? Maybe, just maybe, they can find someone to take this expensive player off of their hands. But should they? Yes, he's a great hitter, but is that enough?

And should anyone else be willing to take a chance on him? Yes, he's a great hitter, but is that enough? Why should anyone else be willing to take this overpaid problem child off of the Red Sox' hands? After all, pitching is the name of the game. Defense and pitching wins championships, and hitting just doesn't matter. So a great hitter who's an average defender, poor baserunner and responds poorly to management just has to be more trouble than he's worth, right? It seems that the only thing for Red Sox management to do is to find someone on whom to dump Mr. R-...

So long, Mr. George Herman "Babe" Ruth. It was nice knowing you. You can be someone else's problem now...



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