On October 29, 2007, at 12:06 in the morning, the Red Sox capped of an easy 4 game sweep of the Colorado Rockies to win their 7th World Series in team history and their second in three years. As a Red Sox fan, things could not seem any better. The team finally had a competent GM and ownership combination. The team had a manager that was loved by the team’s players and fans. The farm system was ripe with talent with the likes of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Lars Anderson, Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden and Jed Lowrie as well as the recently graduated trio of Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon. The youth was plentiful, and other key long-term fixtures like Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Josh Becket and even Daisuke Matsuzaka seemingly meant that the team’s success at that time was potentially sustainable for a long time.
And for a while, that is exactly what happened. The next two years the team won exactly 95 games. In 2008 the Red Sox lost to Tampa Bay in the ALCS in game 7. In 2009 the team was swept by the Angels in the ALDS. However, since then, the Red Sox have finished no better than 3rd in the AL East, have not won over 90 games, and are now staring their third consecutive season without making the playoffs. For all the excitement that surrounded this roster, things surely never quite panned out like I’m sure we all hoped.
So what happened? Well, that’s a complex question and isn’t what I am seeking to answer. There are numerous upon numerous things that went wrong. There were injuries. There were bad contracts handed out. There were underachieving players. There was bad luck. There were just flat out better teams that outplayed the Sox in a strong AL and an even stronger AL East.
I recently read a post on Bleacher Report talking about how it was poor trading from Theo Epstein that are most to blame for the Red Sox current woes. While I do think Theo made some pretty obvious mistakes, scapegoating him, specifically for his trades, didn’t quite settle easily with me. Since it was a silly Bleacher Report article from a silly Bleacher Report author, I feel no desire to link to it and increase his page hits. I just didn’t agree with it, and sought out to delve a bit into it.
Maybe he had a point, despite posting no specific evidence to support his claim. Maybe the Red Sox got too gung-ho in their desires to achieve immediate success, and thus made risky trades that ultimately backfired. There is an easy way to figure this out though and that’s to look at the trades.
What role did trades play into it? Specifically, did the Red Sox make any huge errors in their desire to continually contend rather than focus on the future?
By my count, since Papelbon struck out Seth Smith for the final out in 2007, the Red Sox have made just over 60 player trades. The vast majority of them were the exchanging of low level prospects that will never pan out and journeymen players that never really had any impact.
Perhaps none will have more of an impact than the blockbuster just pulled off with the Dodgers, but only time will tell who really won that trade.
The first major trade that happened after the Red Sox last World Series win was right before the non-waiver trade deadline the year after.
July 31, 2008: The Dodgers sent Bryan Morris and Andy LaRoche to the Pirates. The Red Sox sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. The Red Sox sent Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pirates. The Pirates sent Jason Bay to the Red Sox.