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Arnie Beyeler: Should He Manage the 2013 Red Sox?

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Pawtucket Red Sox player Danny Valencia (36) celebrates after scoring against the Reno Aces in the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Liz Condo-US PRESSWIRE
Pawtucket Red Sox player Danny Valencia (36) celebrates after scoring against the Reno Aces in the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Liz Condo-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 Pawtucket Red Sox are not the Triple-A champions. After winning the Governor’s Cup, the Red Sox' Triple-A club was bested in the one-game championship by the Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate, the Reno Aces.

The International League Champs might not be the Triple-A champions this year, but their achievements this season are still impressive. The team used 69 total players over the course of the season and 18 players who played on the PawSox also impacted the major league club. At the end of season that has been marked by managerial chaos at the big league level, the work of Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler stands out in sharp contrast. If the Red Sox do move on from the endless drama of Bobby Valentine, Beyeler deserves real consideration for the job.

The Pawtucket Red Sox went 79-65 this season under Beyeler and won the International League champion for the first time since 1984. They were even better by run differential with a Pythagorean record of 83-61. Despite enormous roster turnover and many of the team’s best players, like Mauro Gomez and Pedro Ciriaco, being shipped up I-95 to help the Red Sox cope with record numbers of injuries, the Paw Sox won games and ultimately a championship.

Certainly at the Triple-A level winning is largely a secondary concern; the farm teams exist to provide depth for the big league club and to develop prospects. Also, the Paw Sox may have been at an advantage over other Triple-A clubs because GM Ben Cherington acquired a large number of veteran players--especially veteran pitchers--on either minor league deals or split contracts. They fielded the second oldest pitching staff in the league with an average age of 28.8 for their hurdlers. The Paw Sox innings leaders were veterans Brandon Duckworth and Justin Germano, who have played in the majors previously. Still, the PawSox started 18 different pitchers this season and finished with the third best ERA in the league. While fringe major leaguers like Germano and Aaron Cook helped greatly, Pawtucket also benefited from young developing players like Junichi Tazawa, Chris Carpenter and Josh Fields, who are now set to help the big league club in important roles next season. Beyeler’s ability to balance the needs of development while still giving the reserves regular work is no minor feat.

That balancing act was not just limited to the pitching staff either. 34 position players logged time with the team and here too, the way in which Beyeler managed to work around rehab assignments, depth signings and the demands of developing prospects is impressive. In this case, however, there was far less regular playing time given to older, more experienced players. The average age for PawSox hitters was just 26, the lowest average age in the IL. Che-Hsuan Lin lead all PawSox players in plate appearances even though the competition for playing time in the outfield was significant. Top prospects Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway were fourth and seventh in plate appearances. This was certainly what the upper brass wanted for these young players, but it was no easy task to actually find these at bats. Pawtucket saw rehab stints from Cody Ross, Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis this year and Beyeler also needed to keep players like Jason Repko, Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik and Darnell McDonald ready for big league assignments. Beyeler did more than just find at bats for everyone, he pieced together an effective line up which finished fourth in the IL in runs scored.

This type of high turnover in players is not unusual for Triple-A teams. Several International League teams used more total players than Pawtucket and one such team the Indianapolis Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate, even won more games than Pawtucket. Still, Beyeler deserves a great deal of credit for keeping the players focused night in and night even as they bounced around from level to level and watched teammates come and go. In the end, Beyeler may not be the best candidate for the Red Sox managers position and you can certainly argue that his greatest value for the franchise lies in doing exactly what he did this year, but if he is interested in the job, the Red Sox need to give him a serious look.

The 2012 season has been marked by poor communication between Bobby Valentine and his players. In this respect, Arnie Beyeler appears to be far better. In handling so many players and the uncertainty that comes with constant roster turnover, Beyeler has shown some of the communications skills that Valentine has been lacking. 2013 will be a very different situation for the Red Sox now that the mega-trade has cleared both salary and everyday players from the team. Given the careful way that the Red Sox have brought along their top talent in the past, the manager of the 2013 Red Sox might be forced to handle a more fluid roster than in previous seasons, with young players getting call ups and then being optioned back down as needed. This season in Pawtucket, Beyeler has shown he can handle that kind of uncertainty and still communicate those decisions to his players effectively and efficiently while keeping the other 24 men’s attention on the task of winning. He has a relationship with a large number of players who are poised to play important roles for the 2013 team, including most of the bullpen’s top arms. Young players like Iglesias, Juan Carlos Linares and Bryce Brentz have all played under him this season and could be important parts of the 2013 team by the end of the year.

The PawSox season has been a nice story in this otherwise unpleasant year. Making Beyeler the manager in 2013 would be a perfect appendix to that story. Whether that happens or not may largely depend on what happens with other candidates (like Tim Bogar), but like many of the prospects he has helped in his time with Portland and now with Pawtucket, Beyeler has real upside and that should not be ignored.