Bobby V being shown the door the day after the Red Sox season finally ended was no surprise. The surprise would have been if they waited for the weekend so it wouldn’t make the front page. But everyone knew the other shoe would drop, and John, Tom and Larry had no need to prolong the obvious, and had the decency to get it over with before the playoffs begin.
Here’s how I cut up the blame pie. I should point out that I have professional experience cutting pies; in high school I worked at Howard Johnson’s in Wellesley and a portion of the the work was cutting slices of pie. Cutting that first piece neatly is an art. Usually it was apple pie that was kept in a heated drawer. Customers would get a piping hot slice with vanilla ice cream melting on it and think it just came out of the oven. In truth, it had probably been in the heated drawer for a couple of weeks.
Okay, the blame:
10% to Ownership. They didn’t really want Bobby but hired him anyway because no one better was available. And they got rid of him when they needed to.
5% to Ben Cherington. He wanted Dale Sveum, but Dale had no managerial experience and people couldn’t even spell his name, let alone pronounce it. Ownership overruled Ben.
20% to the starting pitching. Most people would put more of the blame on the starters, and there were a lot of horrible first innings, but Lester, Buchholz, DuBront and even Beckett had a surprising number of Quality Starts that did not result in wins. (A Quality Start means you went five full innings giving up three earned runs or less.) Why? Because either Bobby V left them in until after they had run out of gas or the bullpen blew it on them. If you don’t count Dice-K and Aaron Cook in this section, the number is probably down to 15%. (Dice-K actually won a game – one run over 8 innings in a 5-1 win in an afternoon game on August 27th. I was there.)
20% to the bullpen. I kept hearing hosts on WEEI and announcers on national network games saying the problem was starting pitching and the bullpen had been pretty good, but I completely disagree. Alfredo Aceves was horrible two times out of three. His Blown Save count is deceptively low because it doesn’t count the times when he gave up a four-run lead, or came in with the game tied and gave it up. Remember John “Waaay back” Wasdin? Aceves could be called Alfredo “That’s a two-run homer” Aceves. Or Alfredo Blown-Seves. Andrew Miller was all over the place, often unable to retire the one hitter he faced. Andrew Bailey, when he finally showed up, was ok at best. I saw him in spring training. They brought him in the the 6th inning and he immediately gave up 6 straight hits. This was supposed to be our Papelbon replacement? Yikes. To be fair, Junichi Tazawa was a pleasant surprise most of the time and Craig Breslow wasn’t too bad.
20% to injuries. Almost half the roster was on the DL at least once. Those who came back didn’t play to their potential. Ellsbury missed the majority of the season and performed well below his fabulous 2011. (But I definitelty want him to stay!) Nobody expected much from Crawford, and in his place Daniel Nava did better than Crawford in 2011. So that injury doesn’t add much. Andrew Bailey has already been dumped on above. Ortiz going down in July hurt a lot. The various guys filling in as DH collectively batted something like 100 points lower than Ortiz with no home runs. Scott Atchison getting hurt? Didn’t matter.
5% to player and coach attitude. Not a high number, and that’s because it was brought on by…
20% to Bobby V. At least. He made it too much about himself. He mispronounced player’s names. He left pitchers in too long. 8 innings out of Daniel Bard, who was used to pitching only the 8th? Youk wasn’t trying hard enough? Putting Punto in the lineup when he was batting .178 because he liked him? Salty as DH…batting .220-something? Aceves as the closer? Not bringing Ciriaco up until late July? Come on. That’s not how we do it around here.