Every year, we try to look ahead at what might be around the next corner. Sometimes we're right. Sometimes we are hilariously wrong.
As many of you have no doubt noticed, there's been a bit of a media tempest surrounding one-time Baseball Prospectus writer Nate Silver. Silver made the decision several years ago to leave behind being right most of the time about what would happen in baseball, and started being right most of the time about what would happen in elections. Without getting too far into the politics of it, Silver at one point called out one of his critics, betting said critic $1,000 that his model was correct. This led to a new round of arguments after his public editor at the New York Times said that such betting was unprofessional and unbecoming anyone benefiting from the Times' good name. Multiple columnists and bloggers defended Silver, even suggesting that more columnists should have a financial stake in their predictions. It's been interesting to watch, but as this isn't a politics blog, why do I bring it up?
The idea of accountability is what appealed to me. Political pundits, and often baseball writers, seem to be able to keep their jobs despite being constantly, thunderingly wrong about everything. Part of this is because many of them (read: all of talk radio and a goodly portion of local columnists) are simply paid to be angry and loud. Partly, though, it's because no one bothers to recall what someone said last year, last month, or even last week. As the offseason gets going, I'm hoping to look back at some of this year's greatest failures of prediction. And because accountability starts in the mirror, today I'll be looking back at a few of the predictions or pieces of advice I put out there this year, and just how wrong I was. So, in no particular order...
April 9: Boston had imploded right out of the gate against Detroit, mostly due to the bullpen blowing late leads, and everywhere the cry went up "Make Daniel Bard the closer now!" I argued that he deserved at least a few starts to see what the Sox would be giving up. I stand by that, even though Bard completely collapsed after a few kinda promising starts. Boston needed a starter, Bard wanted to start, and it was worth a shot. And in retrospect, it's not like having him in the pen would have made much difference to this team. So on "Bard's gonna do fine" I was definitely wrong, but "let's find out" I'm still comfortable with.
May 1: In a piece examining the state of the Red Sox after one month, I wound up with kind of a mixed bag. On Kevin Youkilis, I said that he'd earned the right to fight through his slump, but if things were still bad in June, it'd be time to consider a move. They called up Will Middlebrooks earlier than I'd expected, but the Youk trade was in June, so partial credit. On the pitching end, I said that Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were starting to look like their old selves (if only), that Rich Hill and Junichi Tazawa would help the bullpen (real proud of that), and that Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka looked good as starting depth (ouch). Let's move along.
May 4: Mariano Rivera got hurt, I said some nice things about him, and hoped that he'd come back next year. Looks like he's going to. Which, hooray in baseball terms, boo in needing-to-beat-the-Yankees terms. Not so much a prediction, but what I wanted to happen happened, and that was a bit rare this year.
June 22: Maybe my angriest piece of the year, defending David Ortiz over his "rant" about the Boston media scene. Now that Valentine's been fired and people are becoming more candid about what the clubhouse was like, it's clear that there was something behind the run of poorly-sourced "the Red Sox are dysfunctional" stories at midseason. So on that I was wrong. But on the overall thrust of the piece, that these anonymous smear stories are bad for not only the team but sports journalism generally... That I'm not changing my mind on.
July 9: The Globe's Nick Cafardo encouraged the Sox to "trade Josh Beckett, 10-5 rights or not," in order to shake things up. I attacked this idea as being just a desire to see Boston do something, magically fixing the team via action. Beckett, of course, did wind up dealt as part of the Punto Trade, although it clearly didn't energize anyone. The move probably will lead to a stronger franchise long-term, so in that sense trading Beckett was smart. But trading just Beckett, as had been recommended, wouldn't have been enough.
July 12: My trade dealine GM piece. The Red Sox did trade Kelly Shoppach. Otherwise a big pile of nope. I did finish by saying that my plan assumed "at least a passable rest of July." I'm impressed by that hedge, actually. Solid middle ground there.
August 17: The hot topic for about a week in mid-August was that the Red Sox should grab Jason Varitek for their inevitable managerial opening. I did not care for this idea. So I said so, at length. Boston did hire 'Tek, but not to run the team. He'll be a special assistant to Ben Cherington, presumably doing a little bit of everything as Boston rebuilds. This seems just about right, and leaves open the possibility of the big chair somewhere down the road.
October 22: The Red Sox hired John Farrell, and I put forth a few possible rationales. I definitely got one wrong. There will be no "Project Aviles." Mike's cover was apparently blown (yeah, probably shouldn't have speculated about it until he was home safe), and he was exiled to Cleveland. I still hold some hope that he'll talk Justin Masterson into heading back to Boston.
March 5: I saved this one for last. In a piece on Bobby Valentine as spring training got started, I... Hell, just look at the quote.
[Valentine] shows an awareness of the PR aspects of the job, something that bodes well for future losing streaks and clubhouse controversies.
There it is, folks. The wrongest thing anyone said about the Boston Red Sox this year. I'm actually kind of proud. Stay tuned next year, when I guarantee a Cy Young for John Lackey and play up Jose Iglesias's Silver Slugger chances.