A great deal has been written about the 2012 Sox as losers, despite their high payroll. I agree that free agent signings like John Lackey, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzales have not only failed to help the team, but are probably a part of giving it a losing image.
We must not forget, however, that within the last two years, the Townies have seen three players instrumental in winning the 07 World Series leave through trades or retirement. They are Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, and Kevin Youkilis. Designating a player as a “winner” goes beyond statistics, though they have some importance. My definition is a man that your would like to see on the mound or at the plate when a ballgame is on the line. That would apply to all three of these men, almost to their final days on the team. It is no accident that in their heyday, there was no talk of clubhouse drinking or playing golf on off days. The team image at that time was one of a scrappy, hustling group that could be counted on to contend for the pennant every year. It is not coincidence that with these three gone, it has pretty much become the other extreme.
Let’s look at their stats in 2007. Wakefield was 17-12 in 31 starts. His ERA was high, but not bad by 2012 Josh Beckett standards. Youk hit .288 with 16 homers and 83 rbi’s. His slugging average was .453, Playing both first and third, he did not make an error. Varitek, team captain, batted .255, hitting 17 homers and knocking in 68. He caught 125 of the team’s 162 games Though none of the three were chosen for the American League all-stars, they were all big contributors to the World Series win. I am pretty sure that all will become Sox Hall of Fame members.
It is an oversimplification to say that the Sox have gone downhill because winning players were replaced by losers. Many other factors were involved. There are some on the team who have potential to be winners, but most of them are young, such as Will Middlebrooks, Felix Doubront, and Jacoby Ellsbury, though the jury is still out on him. But as the Sox rebuild, they should be careful about quick cures like expensive free agent signings. Better to build through the system, where it can be better determined if the player is a winner or not.