The Red Sox $50 million payroll, the lowest in baseball
Adrian Gonzalez has not produced. Carl Crawford, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Andrew Bailey, and Bobby Jenks have all yet to play a game this season. Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis have spent most of the season on the DL. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have both had their struggles. The 2012 Boston Red Sox should be no where near first place, but they are.
The players above combined make roughly $123 million. The Red Sox 2012 team payroll is $173 million. So how is it possible that they are functioning well enough to be right in the thick of the AL East? David Ortiz has played well, but he can’t carry the whole team.
No, it’s not the prima donnas with bloated contracts doing it for the Sox this year. It’s been guys who play fundamentally sound baseball like Daniel Nava and Ryan Sweeney. They might not be the most athletic players on the field, but both have higher career on base percentages than Carl Crawford. Both grind out every at bat and play smart in the field. They may not have the finesse and flare like Crawford, but they play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Most importantly, they cost about $2 million combined.
Mike Aviles carried the Red Sox early on in the season. He ignored the backlash from the media and stepped up to become a real leader. All he’s done is played fine defense and driven in 32 runs through only 51 games. Great production from a guy only making $1.2 million.
Cody Ross also helped carry the Sox early in the season with some big home runs and timely hits.
With Papelbon gone, Bard moving to the rotation, and Bobby Jenks and Andrew Bailey on the DL, the Red Sox have somehow managed to put together one of the best bullpens in baseball thus far. After an extremely rough start, the bullpen of late has been nearly untouchable. Alfredo Aceves stepped into the closers role, again doing anything he’s asked. Andrew Miller has become a nice setup man and lefty specialist, and Vicente Padilla has been a great addition. The most notable reliever is without a doubt Scott Atchison. He’s pitched 30.1 innings and only has a .89 ERA! Even Matt Albers after struggling at the end of last season has been phenomenal. Rich Hill has also returned from injury and done a fine job. With those names in relief, no one would have expected much success from the Sox bullpen. That is far from the truth as Bobby Valentine has done an exceptional job filling players in roles that they are comfortable in.
Let’s not forget young star Will Middlebrooks who ‘wakes and rakes’ everyday since he was called up.
And Jarrod Saltalamacchia who has quickly become what appears to be the Red Sox everyday catcher for years to come and maybe the best hitting catcher in baseball.
Daniel Bard and Clay Buchholz have certainly had their ups and downs, but Felix Doubront has been the staple in the Red Sox starting rotation. The Red Sox are now 8-3 in Doubront starts, and he’s the lowest paid pitcher in the rotation. He certainly deserves a whole lot of credit for the Red Sox success this season.
Last but not least, manager Bobby Valentine deserves much of the credit for managing this team to where it is now. He took all of the criticism and media scrutiny and put it on his back. The fans were booing him every time he stepped from the dugout, yet he took all of it. He tipped his cap and has persevered through all of it. He has taken the $50 million of scraps from a $173 million payroll and managed a winning baseball team.
The Red Sox aren’t where they are in the standings because of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, or dare I say Dustin Pedroia. The players carrying this team you may not have heard of unless you are a baseball fan. The players carrying this team are gritty, scrappy, players who play smart, fundamental baseball. A lot of them are fighting to stay in the big leagues.
This 2012 Red Sox team is right in the thick of things, and it has nothing to do with its bloated payroll. I hope Carl Crawford is taking note, he could learn a thing or two from Daniel Nava.