Red Sox

How did World Series champions who missed the subsequent postseason respond the year after?

How did World Series champions who missed the subsequent postseason respond the year after?

With a loss to the Rays and an Indians win over the Phillies, the Red Sox were officially eliminated from playoff contention in a season following their World Series championship. 

Boston has won 4 titles in the last 15 years, a mark no other team has matched in the same time frame. But the last two times the Red Sox have won it all, they failed to make it past September the following season. 

After winning the World Series in 2013 with a magical bearded run following the Boston Marathon bombings, the Red Sox finished with a 71-91 record, which was good for last place in the AL East. They followed up 2004's championship with a first-round sweep to the eventual champion White Sox and then fell to the Rays in Game 7 of the ALCS in 2008. 

Fortunately for the Red Sox, it's become pretty common for a World Series hangover to last an entire season after the fact. Boston is now the 10th team since 2000 to miss the postseason after hoisting that World Series trophy. 

Of course, we know what those teams did after they won it all, but what happened the year after they failed to get back? How many bounced back vs completely faded away?

2004 ANGELS

The Angels followed up their first championship in franchise history with a letdown year in 2003. They finished 77-85 and finished third in their division. However, they returned to form in 2004 and took back the AL West crown. The addition of Vladimir Guerrero certainly helped. The 29-year-old superstar won the AL MVP in his first season with the Angels, hitting .337 with 39 home runs and 126 RBI. The Angels would eventually get swept in the ALDS by the eventual champion Red Sox.

2005 MARLINS

The Marlins shocked the world by beating the Yankees in the 2003 Fall Classic, but finished third in the NL East the season after. Things didn't get much better for them in 2005 either. Sure, they had a better record, but they once again fell to third place and would eventually trade Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit and send ace Josh Beckett to the Red Sox. This is probably the path the Red Sox want to avoid. The Marlins have been one of baseball's worst over the last 10 years. 

2007 WHITE SOX

After winning the World Series in 2005, Chicago went 90-72 the following season. A strong showing, but the AL Central was a powerhouse that year. The Tigers and Twins made the postseason over them. The year following, the White Sox went 72-90 and haven't been a real threat in the American League since. 

2008 CARDINALS

St. Louis won its first championship since 1967 in 2006, but missed the playoffs the next two seasons after. Cardinals fans wouldn't be disappointed for long though, as they won another title in 2011 in an epic series with the Rangers. 

2012 GIANTS

Ah, the Giants. Kings of winning a World Series, missing the playoffs and then bouncing back to win another. The Giants missed the postseason after winning it all in 2010, but then came back the following year to beat the Tigers in the World Series. Few will forget Sergio Romo striking out Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to close out the series for San Francisco. 

2014 GIANTS

Look who it is! It's the Giants yet again! The 2014 run was how Madison Bumgarner became one of the best big-game pitchers of all time. He carried the Giants staff on an incredible workload to lift the Giants to their third championship in five years. They're the only team close to the Red Sox' level of success since the turn of the century. 

2015 RED SOX

The Red Sox were terrible in 2014, and while they weren't as bad in 2015, they still finished last in the AL East and below .500. Fortunately they would win the next three straight division titles to go with a World Series in 2018, but sometimes the reload takes a bit longer than you'd want from a team that was able to reach the pinnacle of their profession. Age most certainly played a factor for Boston here. 

2016 GIANTS

Everyone assumed the Giants would bounce back for the fourth time and win another World Series after missing the playoffs in an odd-numbered year. Alas, it wasn't meant to be, and the Giants would miss the playoffs for the second straight season. They have not been back to the postseason since. 

2017 ROYALS

The Royals took down the Mets in 2015 to finally get their World Series championship after falling to the Giants in 2014. The next two season would not be kind to the Royals, where they missed the playoffs both seasons with a record around .500. Kansas City is now one of the worst teams in baseball, but at least they got one. 

2020 RED SOX?

The Red Sox have a lot of questions to answer regarding their roster with Dave Dombrowski officially out as President of Baseball Operations. J.D. Martinez can opt-out of his current deal for a pay raise, and Mookie Betts' extension weighs over the franchise's head too. After a season like 2019, Boston needs to upgrade their pitching staff, but they might not be able to if they want to commit resources to their best players. Boston could be in trouble moving forward. 

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Red Sox can look in one of these two directions to find their next GM

Red Sox can look in one of these two directions to find their next GM

The Red Sox fired Dave Dombrowski more than a month ago, and we still can't name a single candidate to replace him.

The mere existence of the opening has contributed to a run on contract extensions in front offices across baseball, however. The latest domino to fall was Dodgers boss Andrew Friedman, who announced on Monday that he's staying in Hollywood. He joins Arizona GM Mike Hazen and Minnesota VP Derek Falvey — two Massachusetts natives — on the list of those either extended or nearing an extension.

Any one of them could've been a compelling candidate in Boston, particularly Friedman, given his track record building winners in both large and small markets. And that's before we even consider hometown hero Theo Epstein, who recently restated his commitment to the Cubs, albeit without receiving a contractual sweetener like any of the above.

When Red Sox owner John Henry noted the difficulty of poaching opposing executives, he wasn't kidding. The team's last two GMs were either hired from within (Ben Cherington) or plucked off the street (Dombrowski).

What should be one of the most coveted jobs in the game is instead serving as little more than leverage for some big names to stay put. So where do the Red Sox go from here?

Their pool may have narrowed, but their general options remain the same: familiarity or change.

The former is represented by the Epstein school of executives with Red Sox ties, as we discussed after Dombrowski's ouster. This starts with Epstein himself, and even if his commitment to Chicago sounds definitive, he can't be entirely discounted until the Red Sox hire someone else. The same goes for Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, who was linked to the job in one report, but hasn't been since.

With Henry claiming he wants to hire an experienced candidate, especially given the challenges facing whoever takes the job, that would seemingly eliminate Arizona assistants Amiel Sawdaye and Jared Porter, as well as Mets exec Jared Banner, who all spent time here.

What that leaves is Option B — an executive without Boston ties who has demonstrated success elsewhere and can give the Red Sox operation a fresh perspective.

One such man is Tampa's Chaim Bloom, a Yale grad like Epstein who has helped oversee Tampa's resurgence despite one of baseball's smallest payrolls. He's the team's VP of baseball operations alongside GM Erik Neander. The Rays followed up a 90-win 2018 with 96 wins and a wild card berth. They then rode one of baseball's most unconventional pitching staffs to Game 5 of the ALDS against the Astros.

With defending Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell limited to barely 100 innings by injuries and breakout candidate Tyler Glasnow making only 12 starts for the same reason, the Rays still found a way. Of their 14 pitchers who made starts, 11 also pitched in relief. Former Red Sox farmhand Jalen Beeks, acquired in the Nathan Eovaldi trade, threw over 100 innings despite making only three starts.

The Rays found a creative way to build their staff with castoffs and prospects and one targeted free agent strike in All-Star right-hander Charlie Morton, and the result was the best ERA in the American League. The Red Sox, meanwhile, devoted megabucks to Chris Sale, David Price, and Eovaldi, and then watched all three break down en route to a staff ERA of 4.70 — more than a run higher than Tampa's 3.65.

Tampa's ability to find and develop cheap pitching stands in direct contrast to Boston's struggles in that regard dating back to Epstein. The Red Sox have drafted and developed just two starters of note since 2000 — Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz — and had they a deeper well of talent in the minors, they wouldn't have needed to devote more than $400 million to the Big Three.

The Astros, Rays, Dodgers, and Yankees have surpassed the Red Sox from a player development standpoint, which isn't just limited to the minor leagues. Improving the performance of big leaguers matters, too, whether it's New York turning castoffs like Luke Voit and Mike Tauchman into useful sluggers, the Rays finding diamonds under virtually every rock, or the Dodgers hitting on All-Stars Max Muncy and Justin Turner for nothing.

The question will be if the Red Sox can peel anyone away from the aforementioned organizations, especially since Boston's top job hasn't exactly exuded stability recently. And that's before we even consider the challenges awaiting the next GM as they relate to payroll and the future of Mookie Betts.

The Red Sox insist they will cast a wide net, and eventually they'll find their man. But for now it's a tad disconcerting that the best candidates aren't even interested in hearing what Boston has to say.

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Four potentially undervalued pitchers Red Sox could target this offseason

Four potentially undervalued pitchers Red Sox could target this offseason

It's time for the Red Sox to start thinking like a small-market team, because burning money in the name of their rotation could have dire consequences that stretch well into the 2020s.

With Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi set to earn $80 million annually through 2022 despite being major injury risks, the Red Sox will need to bargain hunt to fill the rest of their rotation. So where might they turn?

The key will be finding undervalued assets. One way to identify them is to look for pitchers with the biggest disparity between their ERA and FIP.

The latter — fielding independent pitching — is an ERA-like number derived from the events a pitcher can directly control: walks, strikeouts, home runs, and hit by pitches, the idea being that everything else is in the hands of the defense. FIP has its flaws, because it operates on the assumption that a pitcher can't impact balls in play, which means hurlers aren't credited for the majority of their outs, but it can still be a useful tool.

A wide spread between a pitcher's ERA and FIP can suggest bad luck or bad defense that mask some underlying strengths. The Red Sox, interestingly enough, looked a lot better as a staff via FIP than ERA, led by Chris Sale (4.40 ERA vs. 3.39 FIP), David Price (4.28 vs. 3.62), and even Rick Porcello (5.52 vs. 4.76).

Their staff ERA of 4.70 surpassed their 4.28 FIP by the widest margin of any team in baseball. Defensive metrics are notoriously spotty, but Fangraphs ranked Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts dead last at his position in defensive runs saved, saying he cost the Red Sox 19 runs. Similarly, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (minus-2) and third baseman Rafael Devers (minus-13) were considered negatives, too. Bogaerts and Devers aren't going anywhere, but Bradley, a defending Gold Glover, is likely to be traded this winter. The Red Sox could also upgrade their defense at second base.

In any event, we're drifting a little far afield. The point is finding opposing pitchers who significantly underperformed their FIP, which could make them targets this winter. Here are four names to remember.

1. Joe Musgrove, RHP, Pirates

A first-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2011, Musgrove was traded to the Astros a year later before joining Pittsburgh as the centerpiece in the 2018 Gerrit Cole blockbuster. He made a career-high 31 starts this year, going 11-12 with a 4.44 ERA that masked a 3.82 FIP.

Those relatively middling numbers still established the 26-year-old as Pittsburgh's most effective starter, and he remains under team control through 2022.

With the Pirates in what feels like an eternal rebuild, it's hard to imagine they'd consider any player untouchable. Musgrove could make for an intriguing target.

2. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Reds

Gausman is a non-tender candidate, since he's set to make at least $10 million in his final year of arbitration. Chosen fourth overall in the 2012 draft by the Orioles, Gausman was once considered a top-10 prospect.

He has yet to live up to that hype, but he's better than the numbers suggested last year between Atlanta, where he posted a 6.19 ERA (and 4.20 FIP) in 16 starts, and Cincinnati, where he found use as a reliever (4.03 ERA, 3.17 FIP). Gausman struck out a career-high 10 batters per nine innings and is still only 28, so perhaps a flyer is in order, particularly if other teams are viewing him as a reliever and the Red Sox give him an opportunity to start.

3. Spencer Turnbull, RHP, Tigers

How does the AL's loss leader sound? Pitching for a woeful team, Turnbull went just 3-17 with a 4.61 ERA in 30 starts. His 3.99 FIP suggests better stuff than results, however, and he doesn't become a free agent until 2025.

Turnbull throws 95-97 and is considered a piece of Detroit's future, but it never hurts to ask. The 27-year-old went winless in his final 18 starts and is a late bloomer who was still pitching in Double A at age 25.

4. Pablo Lopez, RHP, Marlins

The rookie went 5-8 with a 5.09 ERA in 21 starts, but his 4.28 FIP and low walk rates (2.2 per nine innings) suggest some promise. The 23-year-old hails from Venezuela and can't become a free agent until 2025. He features a low-90s fastball and changeup, and the Marlins like his competitiveness. Being the Marlins means they're in perpetual fire-sale mode, however, and Lopez is worth a look.

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