Regrets, sometimes general managers have a few.
What they wish they had thought of in November, December, and January that would have made their lives so much easier in August and September.
Ben Cherington wishes he had solidified the Red Sox’ starting pitching more. He and his staff decided that Daniel Bard was going to make the transition from reliever to starter. He thought Alfredo Aceves would also be in the starting mix, but closer Andrew Bailey got hurt, leaving him with veteran Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka — and you know the rest of the story. He probably thought Andrew Miller might protect him in the rotation, and Miller got hurt. Miller wound up being Boston’s best and most consistent reliever.
Jerry Dipoto worked his rear end off last offseason. The first-year Angels GM signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, both worthwhile acquisitions. But he left one area untouched — the bullpen. He made a nice acquisition for the bullpen in Ernesto Frieri, but it wasn’t enough as Frieri eventually showed warts after an amazing start.
As far as regrets by Colorado GM Dan O’Dowd, he said, “How long is this article? Just kidding. We all have regrets. When you make the amount of decisions we do, you make mistakes. So this year [Jeremy] Guthrie was acquired to give us innings, but Coors [Field] got him and that hurt us. We had such a lack of experience everywhere else. There was no margin for error, and I screwed up.”
In Milwaukee, Doug Melvin’s team made a run at the end after a slow start, but 83 wins weren’t enough. Melvin regrets the lack of flexibility he had to improve his bullpen after Francisco Rodriguez surprisingly accepted their $8 million offer. Melvin had extended the offer so the Brewers would be protected and receive a No. 1 draft pick if K-Rod didn’t accept. But he did.
“You always go back and see things that worked out and things that didn’t based on the decisions you made,” said Melvin, a two-time executive of the year. “People said we wouldn’t be able to score runs losing Prince [Fielder], but we led the league in runs scored, home runs, and doubles. We expected 64 starts out of Shawn Marcum and Zack Greinke and we got 44, but one thing we did do is give our young starters a chance to pitch, and all three of them showed that they’re going to be good major league pitchers.”
Tampa Bay has always stuck to its philosophy of pitching first, but the regret of not trading some of its pitching for a hitter at the deadline has to be there. The Rays needed offense as Carlos Pena and Luke Scott struggled, and Evan Longoria missed so much time because of injury.
“If they had traded for a hitter they’d be in the playoffs right now,” said one American League East official. “They had the best pitching. They were one hitter away and they didn’t do it.”
The Indians were heavily lefthanded, feeling that’s the way to go at Progressive Field, yet the 81 games they played on the road surely meant they needed more righthanded pop. If Chris Antonetti had a regret one would think it was not signing Josh Willingham and allowing him to sign with the Twins. The Indians offered two years and the Twins went three, and that’s where Willingham went. He would have made a big difference in the middle of that Cleveland order.
The Blue Jays would have added more depth to their starting rotation with a veteran pitcher and perhaps traded some of their top prospects in order to add more depth to a staff that was decimated with injuries.
The Phillies toyed with the idea of adding more thump to the lineup to replace the injured Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, both of whom missed much of the first half of the season. If they had, maybe the Phillies would have snuck into the playoffs after they made their late-season push.
The Dodgers would have improved their starting pitching sooner — pre-Josh Beckett — but they don’t seem to regret the trade with the Red Sox in which they took on $264 million in payroll. It would appear they will be a big player for a starting pitcher this offseason, whether it be in free agency or in trade.
The Pirates probably would have put the Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente statues in the lineup if they could have to improve their OBP (they failed to acquire Kevin Youkilis, who would have helped), but they’re another team who didn’t trade for a bat or put more depth in their bullpen. First baseman Gaby Sanchez and reliever Chad Qualls just didn’t cut it. Nor did they try to get another starter when James McDonald went south in the second half.
The Tigers probably should have sought one more reliever.
And there are always teams with no regrets.
Brian Cashman said he didn’t have any regrets to speak of, and why not? His Yankees won the AL East.
The Braves are glad they didn’t mess up their team by making major changes after their 2011 collapse, but probably would have liked to have added another pure hitter.
The Giants probably struggled with keeping expensive Barry Zito over the years and probably had the same thoughts when Tim Lincecum was struggling. When Melky Cabrera tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, GM Brian Sabean could have thought big to replace Cabrera, but he thought smaller and it turned out Marco Scutaro was a gem and helped add a clutch element to the lineup.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo never got that center fielder/leadoff hitter he wanted, but you know, it didn’t turn out so bad. Will he regret the decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg? Who knows? Probably depends on whether the Nationals lose a Game 7 because they have someone less competent on the mound.
The A’s have no regrets. They stripped their team of three All-Stars – Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, and Trevor Cahill — and wound up winning the AL West. How many teams regret not going the extra mile to sign A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes? And how many teams regret (hello, Red Sox) not even bidding on him because they feared his skills wouldn’t translate to the major leagues?
Regrets, yes, there have been a few.
Apropos of nothing
1. A reader suggested Dustin Pedroia should be the Red Sox’ player-manager, and I couldn’t disagree. But I’ll bet the players wouldn’t like him because he’d be too tough on them. I see how he speaks to them now as a teammate and I know he’s kidding half the time, but he wants everyone to play the game 100 percent and take pride in every movement they make on the field. He had a long, heated chat with Ben Cherington the next-to-last game of the season about changing the culture of the clubhouse. I’ll bet you he could do it. By the way, Pedroia said he’s staying out of the managerial search. Pedroia became a Bobby Valentine ally and was certainly a Terry Francona ally and friend. Don’t sense that he’s too big on the revolving door of managers.
2. It’s got to be tough for the Rangers to have short winters in Texas and to go all the way to the World Series the past two years and now into their third straight postseason. It takes its toll, more so on a mental basis than on a physical basis.
3. Adding Rick Peterson as their pitching coach makes so much sense for the Red Sox that they probably won’t do it.
4. Have received inquiries lately about whether it’s time for the Red Sox to select a minority manager. Of course it is.
5. Heard a charge that Valentine didn’t use his advance scouting reports, except every time I visited him in his office he was reading scouting reports.
6. As good as the A’s young pitching is (they made 101 starts with rookies), I don’t expect them to be as good next season. As one NL executive said, “Sometimes it’s all about expectations. The expectations for the A’s were very low and the expectations for the Red Sox were very high. One team played loosey-goosey and the other played up tight. Pressure is an amazing thing. There was no pressure on Oakland and all the pressure on Boston.”
7. The Orioles won 69 games last season, same as the Red Sox this season. Think the Red Sox can do next season what the Orioles did?
8. Comparing September 2011 collapses: The Braves collapsed, remained status quo, and rebounded by making the playoffs. The Red Sox collapsed, made some changes, and won 69 games.
9. Found it odd that Carl Crawford, even though he had Tommy John surgery, never visited Los Angeles after the deal from Boston.
10. I’d pick up impending free agent Derek Lowe if I were the Red Sox. He can protect you in the starting rotation and bullpen, and he would love to continue his career in Boston.
11. Still think trying to get the Twins to trade Joe Mauer to the Red Sox makes sense. Pure hitter who can catch and play first. Twins can take on some money and take one of Boston’s catchers and another prospect or two.
Apropos of something
MLB Network analyst Larry Bowa remains very close to Joe Torre. Asked whether Torre might be a good fit for the Boston job, Bowa said, “He’d be great there. I’ve seen Joe take young teams and make them better and seen him take veteran teams and get the most out of them. He has the amazing ability to bring people together for a common goal. I have no idea if he wants to manage again, but if he does, he’s a great manager.”
Bowa was a tough manager and he was one tough coach. He was Torre’s enforcer, the bad cop who would get in players’ faces if he felt they weren’t doing their part. Every manager needs this type of guy. Obviously, Terry Francona had Brad Mills and then DeMarlo Hale.
Bowa, who recently interviewed for the Astros managerial opening, has been around long enough to know how it all needs to work for an organization to come together.
Bowa doesn’t believe in player’s managers being the way to go, even in this day and age when players have become more sensitive than ever.
“I think what you need to do is get your core players together and say to them this is what I want to do and this how I want to do it,” said Bowa. “If you can get them on board, then the rest of the players will follow them. The players just need to know what you’re all about and if you do that well, they’ll perform and they’ll get everyone else to perform.”
Updates on 9
1. Brad Ausmus, special assistant to GM, Padres —
2. Ryne Sandberg, third base coach, Phillies —
3. Chili Davis, batting coach, A’s — It’s amazing how you either click or don’t with batting coaches. What Davis has done with A’s hitters this season is remarkable. Davis was in the Red Sox employ at Pawtucket, but the Sox couldn’t keep him from joining the A’s. His recommendation to get Josh Reddick from the Sox, predicting he would hit for power, has really fueled the A’s season.
4. Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs — After finishing with 32 homers and 108 RBI, it appears the Cubs should have suitors for him this offseason. Soriano makes so much sense for a team like the Rays as their DH, especially since Theo Epstein would pick up most of the final two years of Soriano’s deal. Soriano could also help the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Indians.
5. Shin-Shoo Choo, OF, Indians — Chris Antonetti has said he expects Choo, 30, to be his right fielder next season, but it appears the Indians GM will also listen to overtures for the lefthanded hitter. Choo is the type of player the Red Sox might go after — entering his final arbitration season and may not be a long-term possibility for the budget-conscious Tribe. Choo is represented by Scott Boras, who will have the same dilemma with Jacoby Ellsbury. The Sox will likely seek an outfielder in the offseason, and Cleveland is ripe for a trade with Boston, in which a pitcher like Justin Masterson could also be involved.
6. Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers —
7. Jake Peavy, RHP, Chicago — His $22 million option will not be picked up by the White Sox, but the righthander should make a nice payday in free agency, perhaps even remaining with the White Sox. Peavy was 11-12 with a 3.37 ERA and a low 1.096 WHIP in 219 innings. He finally seems to be over his injury issues. It would appear, at age 31, Peavy would be a target for the Red Sox. Peavy may also prefer going back to the NL.
8. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle — The Mariners feel they have an excellent young team, and they’re moving the fences in, which should help their terrible offense. The bottom line: While teams have offered the moon for King Felix in the past, there’s no chance Jack Zduriencik is going to trade him now. Hernandez is under contract through 2014, and after that the Mariners ownership has gobs of money to be able to re-sign him. He’ll make $19.5 million next season and $20 million in 2014. He’s got the money already, and he really loves playing in Seattle.
9. Josh Johnson, RHP, Marlins —
From the Bill Chuck files: “Kevin Youkilis, Prince Fielder, and Carlos Quentin led the majors with 17 times each getting hit by a pitch.” And, “Derek Jeter led the majors with 169 singles, followed by Marco Scutaro with 147.” . . . One more name to consider for Boston’s managing job: ESPN’s Orel Hershiser. Smart, pitching oriented, he’d be terrific . . . Happy birthday to Butch Henry (44), and belated birthday wishes (Saturday) to Oil Can Boyd (53) and Darren Oliver (42).
Nick Cafardo can be reached at Cafardo@globe.com or Twitter @email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.