According to a very nice Uber driver I met on Sunday the two reasons are simple: 1) The Red Sox are losing because that was the plan 2) The Red Sox are losing more than they should be because they aren’t sticking to the original plan.
Now, let me – in my absolute naivety – try to elaborate.
They are losing because that was the plan
Apparently there are basically two (at least two) strategies to running a baseball team. The first strategy is to buy players that are pure class – the problem there is that doing so is expensive. The other strategy is to try and develop young players – the problem there is that your team may not be great during development. In essence, apparently the Red Sox plan is the latter, i.e. to build up loads of quality young players, and that explains why they aren’t winning so much. While in transition the whole plan is roughly the following:
- Let young players improve by giving them game time.
- To carry the team over until the young players mature, buy some old (30 yrs +) players that aren’t absolutely epic but are very good value for how well they play (aka “value players” – I hope I didn’t just make that up).
- Look forward to winning in a few years (which should be about 18 months from now, according to my Uber friend).
So, in summary the plan was to have a few years of mediocrity and win in the future.
They are losing even more because they didn’t follow the plan
A few years ago, the plan apparently started to go wrong. First of all, the Red Sox won out the whole league (World Series). Apparently, it’s possible for that to be a bad thing. According to my new found friend, the victory was completely unexpected. It was a fluke because the Sox had just bought in some “value players” that happened to play the best baseball of their lives on that year. The problem, he continued, was that victory set unreasonable expectations. In other words, even though the team was mediocre/decent, people would expect epicness. This put pressure on the strategy of letting young players grow. In fact, he went on, the Sox partially abandoned their initial strategy. They bought some pretty pricey players (Pablo Sandoval being one) and they let go of a “value player” Jon Lester [who was a top class pitcher but perhaps had only a few years left at his peak]. Now the Sox have less money in the bank but what’s more, their younger players aren’t getting the game time they need to improve.
Whew… pretty pleased to know that all of this sub-par performance is perfectly normal.