Sunday, September 27, 2015

Column of Contradictions

"Hope" a word not often found in The CHB's vocabulary, and when it does make one of its rare appearances, it's typically delivered in snide fashion. Which is why today's column is a treat -- ostensibly on the increasing odds of the Red Sox improving in 2016 but in fact a true column of contradictions in which The CHB even manages to refute himself in a single paragraph.

With that, on with the show:

Contradiction 1. "[U]nlike last year, the Hub’s hardball high hopes might be rooted in reality rather than ball club propaganda and wishful thinking."

Compare that to April 3, when The CHB's pick to win the AL East was none other than the Orioles saying, "Why does everyone think the Red Sox made up 25 games on these guys?" Which came just a few months after he wrote that the Red Sox should be applauded for spending money.

Those Orioles, by the way, are same team the Red Sox beat three games straight this weekend while allowing ZERO runs, and which the Sox are now in position to relegate to the cellar.

Contradiction 2. "Despite the shattered dreams and yet another lost summer of meaningless games, the Red Sox have managed to make changes and showcase skills that generate legitimate hope for 2016."

What changes, exactly, have they made? A bunch of front office hires who have yet to put their imprint on the team. The other "changes" were made for them: John Farrell started cancer treatment, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez hit the DL, allowing the Sox the convenience of replacing them with better players (Sandoval and Ramirez had a combined WAR of -2.0 this season). What's really happening is that the Sox are at least playing to their level of ability; it just came too late to make a race of it.

Contradiction 3. "New boss Dave Dombrowski is an old-school baseball guy who’s got prospects, cash, and vision. Now all he has to do is rebuild a terrible pitching staff."

Yet in May and in August this year, The CHB called those same prospects "universally overrated" and "over-valued."

Miley, Porcello and Kelly combined for 4.7 wins above replacement this year. Not great, but hardly "terrible." Buchholz, the guy who wasn't a No. 1 in Shank's eyes, was on a All Star caliber pace (2.7 WAR in 113 innings) before getting hurt. In truth, the starters were decent if occasionally erratic. The bullpen dragged everyone else down.

Contradiction 4. Again on April 3, The CHB predicted the Red Sox would make the wild card this season. If the Sox were so overrated -- "ball club propaganda and wishful thinking" is how he now describes them, why did he pick them for the playoffs?

Contradiction 5. Will Dave Dombrowski trade "some of the coveted prospects who were always overprotected in the slow-moving Cherington regime"? That slow-moving regime produced two outstanding players in Betts and Boegarts (the latter of whom is having one of the six best seasons for a 22 year old shortstop in major league history)

Contradiction 6. "We don’t have enough space here to address the Hanley/Pablo problem."

In October and again in November of 2014, The CHB insisted the Red Sox sign Sandoval. "The Red Sox can’t sign Pablo Sandoval fast enough," he wrote. (For the record, we argued against it.) Sandoval was flat-out awful. Against all odds, Ramirez was even worse. Yet The CHB called his signing a "boffo day." John Henry and Bill James are looking smarter and smarter.

Contradiction 7. All these changes will "undoubtedly vault the Sox back into contender status with media outlets and in Vegas." Besides the O's and Sox, here are the rest of The CHB's picks for the rest of the MLB playoffs were the Tigers, Angels, Indians (wild card), Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants (wild card), Pirates (wild card), with the Nationals over the O's in the World Series.

How did that compare to the Vegas preseason favorites? In order by division, they were: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Mariners (WC), Athletics (WC), Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers, Cubs (WC), Padres (WC).

So not only did Vegas match The CHB with three correct picks each, but Shank did no better in forecasting the World Series participants. So much for old school.

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