Originally Posted by jamesdeluxe
Theo may be *trying* to build competitive homegrown talent, but ^^that^^ seemed to prove that the Yankees actually have it...
that connotes the red sox do not "actually" have it, in which case you need to pay much closer attention to what's "actually" going on. Fully grownSox have invested in the farm and they're ready to reap benefits of harvest
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | March 31, 2006
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- They represented the triumph of the farm system, two can't-miss pitchers who were clearly major league ready and a college shortstop who rose rapidly through the minor league ranks and was on the cusp of a big-league job. Some baseball people preferred one pitcher because he was more polished, the other for his sheer talent. The general manager, just three years into the job, had promised that the Red Sox would do a better job of growing their own talent, and he had delivered on his word.
In a way, the pitchers, Carl Pavano and Brian Rose, and the shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra, from the spring of 1997 foreshadowed the arrival this spring of a fresh batch of Red Sox prospects, the deepest in years, generated on Theo Epstein's watch. They also serve as a reminder that:
1. the emergence of Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester, and to a lesser extent, Dustin Pedroia, in the same season is not a singular event in Red Sox history;
2. things often don't work out the way anybody anticipates.
Pavano never threw a pitch for the Red Sox, then was flipped that winter by GM Dan Duquette to Montreal with Tony Armas Jr. in the trade that brought Pedro Martinez to Boston, arguably the greatest deal in Sox history. Pavano, his career stalled by injuries, had one breakout season with the Marlins in '04 that inspired the Yankees to sign him to a $40 million contract before he got hurt again.
Rose, a Massachusetts kid, made his big-league debut in '97 with his parents sitting behind the dugout. He pitched for the Sox for parts of four seasons, hurt his elbow, was traded to the Rockies, and though he hung on for several more years in the minors, pitched his last big-league game on May 30, 2001, at age 25.
Garciaparra, of course, became Nomah, a Boston icon who was on the fast track to Cooperstown until injuries and a contract impasse led to his trade to the Cubs, and now a third stop -- Nomar a first baseman? -- in Los Angeles with the Dodgers.
Better than Pedroia, perhaps, as a comparable to Garciaparra is Hanley Ramirez, who had barely arrived on the mainland from Santo Domingo before he was heralded as the next great Sox infielder. He may yet become great, but if he does so, it will be in the uniform of the Florida Marlins, the team to which the Sox delivered Ramirez along with two promising arms, Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado, for Josh Beckett, the pitcher expected to anchor the Sox' rotation for years to come, and third baseman Mike Lowell.Bargaining chips
What is striking about the state of the Red Sox farm system today -- and underscores the reason why Baseball America, the respected trade publication, rates the Sox as having the eighth-best system in the game after rankings of 21, 23, 27, 28, and 24 the last five years -- is that the Sox are sufficiently awash in prospects that they can use kids to acquire an elite talent such as Beckett and still hold on to the players they believe are their best prospects, namely Papelbon, Lester, and Craig Hansen, who nearly went straight from the campus of St. John's University to a big-league call-up after being Boston's first pick in the amateur draft last June.
''There's a lot of talent there," said David Forst, the former Harvard baseball captain and assistant general manager of the Oakland A's, who many believe is being groomed to be Billy Beane's successor as Oakland GM. ''The question in Boston is always going to be, how much leeway do you have? Do you let the kids come up and experience growing pains?
''For us, it's a fact of life. We depend on the young kids, players with a chance to come up through the system, and have veteran players that blend in. But in Boston, there's always going to be an issue of the having-to-win-now atmosphere. In Boston, can you let a kid like [Andy] Marte come up and play every day and struggle?
''The Papelbons and the Lesters, any player not named Huston Street [the collegian-turned-closer for the A's] is going to struggle a little bit.
''So that's why you use guys like Hanley Ramirez and Sanchez as chips to get a Josh Beckett, use guys who may be close for a guy still in his prime years."
Besides their own prospects, the Sox latched onto Marte, who ranked in the top 20 on all of BA's top prospects lists, when they traded Edgar Renteria to the Atlanta Braves. But even though Marte played third base, a position where the Sox clearly had a future need, he was dealt to the Indians for Coco Crisp, there being a greater sense of urgency for a replacement for Johnny Damon than for a player who might be stuck behind Lowell for a year or two.
''It never has been really difficult for me to accept trading a minor league player," said Ben Cherington, who was briefly co-GM in Epstein's absence after serving as director of player development for three years, and is now the vice president of player personnel, which places him in charge of player development and amateur scouting.
''Some of the guys we've traded I've liked personally as well as I liked them as players, but it hasn't been difficult, because I feel it's my job to do everything I can to help put a player in position to have success and for that to benefit the Red Sox. So if we trade Hanley Ramirez and we feel like that player helped the Red Sox even if he's not playing for the Red Sox, we've succeeded. I hope Hanley Ramirez has a 15-year career, I hope Matt Murton [dealt to the Cubs] is a 10-time All-Star. I think he's a really good player. So when we trade them we don't stop wishing them well."Turn for worse in '90s
Homegrown talent was a staple of the Sox in the 1980s. Lou Gorman, who succeeded Haywood Sullivan as GM in 1984 and remained for 10 years, retained Eddie Kasko as his scouting director and will happily recite the names of the players either one or both sent to the big leagues. Mike Greenwell was drafted in '82. Roger Clemens and Ellis Burks came in '83. Curt Schilling was drafted in '86 (and dealt in the Mike Boddicker trade). John Valentin and Tim Naehring, picked in '88, two future MVPs, Mo Vaughn and Jeff Bagwell (dealt in the infamous Larry Andersen deal), in '89.
''A lot of years, our lineups were around 90 percent homegrown," said Gorman, who estimates that during his term as GM, the Sox developed nearly 40 big-leaguers before he was shunted off to a corner office when Duquette became GM in '94.
The Sox hit some lean years in the 1990s, when Wayne Britton (1993-2001) was scouting director, first under Gorman, then Duquette. But at the time, it didn't look that way. Not when the Sox boasted not only Rose and Pavano but pitchers Andy Yount, a Clemens clone from Texas; Juan Pena, a 27th-round pick out of a Miami community college; Chris Reitsma, a strong-armed Canadian; and first-rounders Josh Garrett and John Curtice.
''Andy Yount was as good a pitching prospect as I'd ever seen, the whole package," said Bob Schaefer, a special-assignment scout with the Braves who at the time was the Sox' farm director. ''Pavano had better stuff than Rose, but Rose was the better pitcher -- he held runners on, threw to both sides of the plate with movement. And Pena, he probably had the best package of all, compared to Rose and Pavano, good breaking stuff and perfect control.
''I thought they might all be 20-game winners."
Yount, grieving at a gravesite over the death of a friend, squeezed a bottle too tight, the glass shattering in his pitching hand and severing tendons, effectively ending his career. Pena, in another freak injury, was struck on the pitching elbow by a line drive and never recovered. He won his only two decisions with the Sox. Curtice, a good-natured but flaky lefty out of the same high school as Michael Cuddyer of the Twins, was sent to a fat farm to get in better shape, wound up hurting his arm, and washed out. Reitsma was traded and now is the Braves' closer. Garrett never made it; he's working in a Fort Myers bank as an investment counselor.
With the exception of Garciaparra, Boston's top pick in the first Sox draft overseen by Duquette, the successful position players were few and far between.
Michael Coleman and Donnie Sadler were keen Duquette disappointments, while David Eckstein, a so-called nonprospect, shocked the Sox when he became a valuable big leaguer after the Angels claimed him on waivers.
The Sox did a little better when they ventured farther from home, scout Levy Ochoa scoring a coup when he signed Hanley Ramirez, who had a chance to be the best player the Sox had ever discovered in the Dominican Republic. The Sox were guilty for years of severely neglecting Latin America; now, between 33 and 35 percent of the approximately 155 players in the Sox' minor league system (not including the players in the team's Dominican academy) are foreign-born, Cherington said.Stockpiling arms
When John Henry sold the Marlins and bought the Red Sox in 2002, he brought along David Chadd, the Marlins' scouting director, and many of the names you see on the Sox' top prospects lists came on his watch: Lester and outfielder Brandon Moss in '02, outfielder David Murphy and Papelbon in '03, Pedroia in '04.
It is something of a coincidence, Cherington said, that the Sox have so many pitchers among their better prospects.
''Certainly there was a conscious decision to sign and develop pitching," he said. ''I'm not sure there was a conscious decision to do it at the expense of position players. Our scouts and development people did a hell of a job wih Jon Lester, they did a hell of a job with Papelbon, and last year we got an opportunity to get Hansen when we didn't think he'd last that long.
''But if you want to help your major league team, you can't just draft one or two pitchers and say, 'This guy is going to be my No. 3 starter in 2010.' There's got to be 15 of those guys, because of the attrition rate for pitchers. You've got to find as many quality arms as you can. Some will be real good for us, some won't."
Chadd left the Sox in 2004, the unspoken reason being some conflict between his more traditional approach and the more statistically oriented tack taken by Epstein. His replacement was Jason McLeod, who worked with Epstein in San Diego and by all accounts had a very good first draft, landing a couple of college stars, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (Oregon State), shortstop Jed Lowrie (Stanford), plus Hansen, junior college pitcher Clay Buchholz, and high school pitcher Michael Bowden. The Sox had five of the first 47 picks in the draft, a terrific opportunity to load up on talent, especially for a team willing to spend money in the draft.
''To put it simply, in order to build a good farm system, you need, No. 1, a commitment from ownership and GM, both a financial commitment and philosophical commitment," Cherington said. The Sox rank near the top of the league in money spent on scouting and player development.
It's gratifying for all of them to see the talent at the gates of Yawkey Way, especially the pitchers, Papelbon and Lester and Hansen, and Manny Delcarmen of West Roxbury, Mass.
''But they're not established major league pitchers yet," Cherington said. ''There's still some unknown to it. We think they can do it. We think they have the aptitude for it. They're all pretty close. But until they do it, there's still an unknown." "i mean, please."___________________
btw: j. papelbon
, 46 games, 53 innings pitched, 54 strikeouts, 0.51 era
: , 29 saves (tied for league lead), 27 hits allowed.m. rivera
, same stats: 47 games, 56 innings pitched, 42 strikeouts, 1.92 era, 26 saves, 45 hits allowed.