Organizational Rankings: Future Talent – Boston

Boston is an organization that has a lot of money but it is also a very smart organization; it’s run by people that could probably turn a team with a $40-million budget into a World Champion.

Much like the Tampa Bay Rays, whom we looked at yesterday, the organization is led by a young, aggressive general manager: Theo Epstein. Although a lot of the organization’s front office talent has been picked through over the past few years – including Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod – the club still has some very smart men overseeing the club’s future stars. Mike Hazen continues on in his role as director of player development, while the scouting department will have a new leader in 2010 with the loss of McLeod to the San Diego Padres organization.

The club on the field consists mostly of veteran players. Younger, home-grown talent includes outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Jon Lester has developed into a legitimate No. 2 starter in the rotation, and Clay Buchholz also has promise and has been coveted by a number of teams in trade talks. Closer Jonathan Papelbon, another home-grown talent, is no longer a “young player” but his eventual replacement – Daniel Bard – is.

The organization has done a nice job of developing both top tiered amateur talent (Casey Kelly, Derrick Gibson) and lower round selections (Josh Reddick). With money to burn, the club has used its monetary advantage to sign some high-risk, over-slot player such as Ryan Westmoreland, Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish, and Anthony Rizzo. Over the past three seasons, the club has handed out more over-slot deals (outside of the first three rounds) than any other team in baseball: 16. Along with the amateur draft, the club is a major player in the international market with the signing of players such as Junichi Tazawa, Stolmy Pimentel, and Jose Iglesias.

The club is not afraid to use its young players as bargaining chips in trades for proven talent, such as catcher Victor Martinez. The organization sent young pitchers Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price to Cleveland. One player that Boston would like to have back is shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who was part of the loot sent to Florida for pitcher Josh Beckett in 2005.

This club may technically be a veteran team, but the organization knows how to acquire, develop and utilize young talent to its fullest.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


28 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: Future Talent – Boston”

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  1. John P. says:

    “Jon Lester has developed into a legitimate No. 2 starter.”

    I’d suggest scrapping that sentence in favor of something like this: “Jon Lester has developed into one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball.”

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    • CC says:

      Well maybe not top 10 quite yet. Still, he’s more of “a legitimate staff ace.”

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      • suicide squeeze says:

        If he can keep striking out more than a batter per inning like last season, then yes, he is a top 10 pitcher.

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      • descender says:

        He’s not better than any of the top 10 pitchers in baseball… or the top 12 actually, so how can he be on that list? Don’t underestimate the other pitchers in the league because you like Lester.

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      • TsB says:

        He’s in the top 10 among starting pitchers for FIP and xFIP over the past 2 years whilst playing in the AL east. One more year like last year and he is certainly top 10. Being objective, I can’t think of 10 guys who I can say 100% I would rather have pitching for me.

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  2. overtlybiasedfan says:

    I really hate to be “this guy”, but if they can turn a $40 mil team into world champions, where are all the Championships with the budget they have?

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    • Boomer says:

      Um, 2004 and 2007?

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      Yeah, if they can turn a team with a $40 million budget into a world champion, then why is Boston spending so much money. And why aren’t they getting more return on the extra $100 million they are spending?

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      • Boomer says:

        First off, he says “probably”.

        Second, it takes a payroll of over $100 million to consistently make the playoffs from the AL East. That’s the return you get. No playoff, no championship. If the Sox were in the AL West, they’d be able to spend much less to get an 80% chance of 95 wins.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        If a team is good enough to in a World Championship, they are good enough to win the AL East or wild-card.

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      • Boomer says:

        I said consistently.

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  3. Seels says:

    Did they NOT win two championships in the last 6 seasons? What an odd thing to say.

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  4. LibertyBoy says:

    Not a knock on Hanley, but I’d think they’d keep Beckett winning 20 regular season games in ’07 before tacking another 4 wins in the PS. Without the second championship no one ever says “powerhouse” or “dynasty” or “best team of the decade” in any discussion. But it’s a great point to make that Hanley, a home grown, was the price.

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    • Derek R-C says:

      Agreed. As much as Sox fans would love to have Hanley back. If we had to choose between Hanley or 2007 WS Championship, I think the decision is obvious.

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      • NBarnes says:

        I’m a Sox fan, and given the benefit of hindsight, I think that anybody who’d still make that trade is insane. Beckett’s been good, but Hanley has been both better and cheaper. Beckett’s been underpaid relative to market, but there’s a big difference between underpaid and basically free, as Hanley’s been. To the extent that losing Beckett leaves a hole in the rotation, it also fills what’s been a gaping hole at shortstop, and does so in a fashion that absolutely leaves cash in the Sox’s pocket that would allow them to find an solution for the rotation.

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      • Reuben says:

        Anyone who says they prefer Beckett to Hanley is crazy. Hanley may have decreased their chances in 07, but would have increased them in 08 and beyond.

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    • Matt says:

      Keep in mind that not only did the Red Sox get Josh Beckett in the Hanley Ramirez deal, but they got Mike Lowell. Lowell was almost as instrumental in winning the 2007 World Series as Beckett, finishing 5th in Regular Season MVP voting. Lowell provided 2 years of good value at 3rd, despite being basically a salary dump by the Marlins. I’m confident Theo Epstein feels he got his money’s worth.

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  5. Bob says:

    Maybe they don’t turn out championships every season because there is this called injuries and less than satisfactory player performance. Things do not always turned out as planned, come on guys you know that. If everything was based on paper then the Red Sox, Yankees, or Phillies would win the World Series every year. Payroll obviously does not affect these factors. As for Jon Lester being a top 10 starter, I do not think it is out of the question because he pitches in the AL East, the toughest division in baseball, so he faces much harder teams than say a pitcher in the NL West or a National League pitcher in general.

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  6. Mike says:

    Some of these expectations are kind of wacky. Boston has made the play-offs every year since 2003 other than 2006 (in which everyone and their mother got hurt).

    Given the tiny samples we deal with in the play offs- it’s difficult to argue that the eventual winner of the World Series is truly the “greatest team in baseball” that year. When dealing with samples of 11-20 total games, it seems that post season success potentially has more to do with good health, good luck and good timing rather than roster composition.

    Take Boston’s two WS championship runs as examples:

    In 2007, they were clearly the best team in baseball and yet their opponent was an average team with loads of young talent who happened to get hot at the right time. Despite the fact that Boston swept, Colorado could have easily won that series. If Boston played Colorado 100 times, how often would Boston have won? At best, maybe, 60 times? The difference between the best team in baseball and a pretty good club is a lot narrower than many think.

    In 2004, Boston was again an excellent team. However, it seems that the New York Yankees were almost certainly a better club and the Cardinals may have been as well. Interestingly enough, the 06 Sox (not much different than the 07 Sox in terms of talent) failed to make the post season and a pretty average Cards team won the World Series.

    Baseball is unpredictable, that’s one reason why it’s so much fun to follow. The work of the folks here (and a few other sites) enhances my enjoyment of baseball because they always find different ways to look at the game. However, despite their hard work- they’re (and I’m) going to be incorrect a whole lotta of the time, the main reason for this is that the difference between Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees are a lot smaller than most people would ever be willing to admit.

    That narrow gap explains along with small sample sizes explains why teams like the 90’s Braves didn’t take home numerous WS trophies or why the 2000’s NY Yankees didn’t enjoy the success that the 90’s Yankees did.

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    • Reuben says:

      “[T]he main reason for this is that the difference between Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees are a lot smaller than most people would ever be willing to admit.”

      I’m pretty sure the main reason is entropy.

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  7. quintjs says:

    I think the point of the 40million dollar WS champions comment was in reference to the Rays.

    The fact the Red Sox can build that good of a farm system, with that much impact talent without having a top 20 draft pick is impressive.

    You think if they had all the Rays #1 picks they couldn’t do the same thing? with their ability to draft and develop, they would have done it better.

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  8. Nick says:

    “He’s not better than any of the top 10 pitchers in baseball… or the top 12 actually, so how can he be on that list? Don’t underestimate the other pitchers in the league because you like Lester.”

    Oh god, this is the perfect example of someone having access to a powerful machine without the knowledge of how to operate it.

    “Lester was 13th in FIP last year, therefore there are 12 better pitchers than him.”

    First if all, the 6 guys directly ahead of him were no more than .10 lower in FIP.

    Second, over half of the guys ahead of him pitch in the National League. Lester pitches in the AL and in the toughest division in baseball.

    That said, last year was the first and only year he’s been that good. If he stays there, he’s undoubtedly top 10, and top 2 or 3 among lefties. As it stands he’s safely a top 15 pitcher in baseball.

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  9. pft says:

    Seems Youkillis should have been mentioned somewhere. Oh, he was pre-Theo, sorry.

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  10. Dan says:

    This has not been well-publicized, but Westmoreland’s career is hanging in the balance. He’s having brain surgery soon.

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    • Boomer says:

      I think he already had it and it was a success. Rehabbing now but probably won’t play this year, IIRC.

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  11. Matt says:

    Keep in mind that not only did the Red Sox get Josh Beckett in the Hanley Ramirez deal, but they got Mike Lowell. Lowell was almost as instrumental in winning the 2007 World Series as Beckett, finishing 5th in Regular Season MVP voting. Lowell provided 2 years of good value at 3rd, despite being basically a salary dump by the Marlins. I’m confident Theo Epstein feels he got his money’s worth.

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  12. DJacobs says:

    Re: Hanley, who knows if the move to Florida was instrumental in his blossoming into one of the game’s best. He sure floundered around in the Sox mL before the trade. The only safe thing to say is the trade worked well for both teams.

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  13. camstew says:

    the reason Hanley was floundering in the minors is bc they had a little player named nomar who used to be one of the best players in baseball. he def would have solved the sox ss problem for the past 6 yrs but I still think beckett is still more important that Hanley would have been

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