Relying heavily on any one thing is bogus; Especially in sports. In this case, we’re talking about baseball.
Just ask Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry.
John, you make billions more than I do a year, but as you’ve so recently said, numbers aren’t the most important thing...
That said, I could have told you five hundred times over the past that relying too heavily on that crap will bury you.
The average fan will reference the three World Series titles as respective culminations of the analytical prowess in the Red Sox front office.
There was so much more going on in 2004, 2007 and 2013 than cracking books on UZR, FIP, WCR+, and all of that nonsense. There was team chemistry, momentum and high-risk, high-reward contracts. I do respect sabermetrics, and believe they have a place in the game, but certainly not at the forefront. In order to win a championship, you need a balance of the number game, and old school baseball knowledge. It seems like Big Boss Henry has finally come to that realization, and it all started with hiring President of Baseball Operations and noted traditionalist, Dave Dombrowski.
Dombrowski believes in scouting, the eye test and several other traditional ways of evaluating talent in the game. Working with him is General Manager, Mike Hazen, who was formerly the Director of Player Development and Scouting under Theo Epstein. Hazen also served as Assistant General Manager to Ben Cherington. Due to Hazen’s background in scouting, paired with the tutelage of Epstein and Cherington, he’s a healthy balance of traditional ideas, as well as analytic knowledge.
The Red Sox took a page from Billy Beane and The Oakland A’s after the 2002 season, and put together a solid window of three consecutive playoff appearances: the pinnacle, of course, being the 2004 World Series title. That being said, structuring a team like Beane’s will prove, and has proven to be foolish. Oakland has been to the playoffs eight times since the year 2000, but they have only won one playoff series: the 2006 ALDS against The Twins. Oakland would eventually be swept by Dombrowski’s Tigers in the ALCS.
Point being, Oakland’s model works fine for them. They don’t have a lot of money, and Beane constantly reconfigures his roster to give them a chance. The Red Sox aren’t The Oakland Athletics. The Red Sox are a financial powerhouse, and need to flex those muscles on proven talent: not bums who “may bounce back” like Justin Masterson and Grady Sizemore. On the other hand, money can’t be blown on the shiniest toys just because they’ve been good in the past: i.e. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and most recently, Pablo Sandoval. There needs to be a mix.
Balance is the key word.
John Henry realizes that now, as his money has been spent wisely (in my opinion) on Superstar talent and great character guys/teammates like David Price and Craig Kimbrel.
Obviously the season has yet to start, but I’m confident in this change of philosophy, and believe it will put the Sox back where they belong: October.