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Grading the 2012 Red Sox season

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(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) - Remember that feeling when you were a kid and it was report card day, and there was a grade or two that you were not all that excited to show your parents?

Maybe it was the C- in 10th grade Spanish, (the teacher hates me Mom, I don't know what to say), the D in Trigonometry (she doesn't let us use calculators) or possibly the F in Home Economics (if we got graded on eating the food, I would have gotten at least a B), but no matter what the class, we've all been there. That feeling of shame mixed with embarrassment was never fun, yet that is exactly how members of the 2012 Red Sox feel as we grade them for their (mostly) putrid season. 

It's been a week since the team's disastrous 93 loss campaign ended, a season that saw the team use an incredible 56 players and lose more games than a Sox team had since 1965. The red sharpie is out, and it ain't pretty. 

Management

John Henry, Owner - F

John Henry is an absentee owner. He cares far more about his new toy Liverpool (although he's doing a fine job of ruining them) than he does about his old toy in the Sox, but the thing is that shouldn't really matter. If Henry was putting the power in the right people's hands it wouldn't mean a thing that he spends most of his time in Europe. Instead, he has handed the keys to Larry Lucchino, and the organization has unraveled. It's gotten so bad that many fans are clamoring for Henry to sell the team, despite the fact that he helped the club win their only two championships since World War I ended. 

Larry Lucchino, President of Baseball Operations - F

Larry Lucchino is an incredibly smart man, one who has been a success at nearly everything he has ever done, but in the twelve months since Theo Epstein jumped ship to Chicago, he has lost his touch in a big way. He smeared Tito on his way out of town, hired Bobby Valentine, and led baseball ops through its toughest campaign in decades. But with Lucchino it's not just what he does, but how he does it. When he fired Bobby Valentine, it wasn't that his decision was wrong to hire him, it was simply that the team had too many injuries to compete. The man cannot admit his mistakes which is a problem when you make as many as he does.

Ben Cherington, General Manager - D

This could very easily be an "I" for incomplete, but for the sake of this article, I am pretending that Cherington, and not Lucchino, was in charge of baseball operations. This grade would have absolutely have been an F if not for the August 24th mega-deal that sent Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to the left coast; however, Cherington's ability to press the reset button saved him from having to repeat this course. The rookie GM's season was not exactly the way he had probably hoped his career would have started. He traded Jed Lowrie (16 homeruns as a shortstop) for Mark Melancon and his 6.20 ERA. He also dealt Josh Reddick (32 homers in the cavernous Oakland Coliseum) for oft-injured closer Andrew Bailey and light hitting OF Ryan Sweeney. Relief pitching is very difficult to predict, so trading for it is a risky proposition. Cherington took the risk, and it back fired. He also dealt Kevin Youkilis and got absolutely nothing in return, turned Daniel Bard into a starter and shipped Marco Scutaro to Colorado. Yikes. Let's hope year two is a little better for Ben.

Bobby Valentine - D-

Bobby V is the kid that the teacher passes just so they don't have to see his face re-taking the class the next year. His struggles have been talked about ad nauseam, but the best way to sum up Valentine: He made every situation worse. Good ones, bad ones, mediocre ones, the man just made everything worse. He was never given a fair shake in Boston, but even if he had been, it wouldn't have ended well.

Starting Line-up

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Catcher - C+

Twenty-five homeruns out of the catcher's spot is not easy to find, and Salty was able to do just that. Unfortunately, hitting for power is just about the only thing he does well as his .288 OBP is well below average and his defensive ability is limited. He'll be back next year, and in his age 28 season. We'll see if he can take the next step.

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B - B-

Yes, I know Gonzo is now a Dodger, but he started 123 games for the Sox so he's the first baseman to grade. What a strange journey it was for him, going from prized off-season acquisition to the center of the biggest trade in baseball history in less than 20 months. Trading him was the poison pill that the team needed to swallow to rid themselves of Beckett and Crawford. On the field Gonzalez had a slightly down year for himself, but did manage a .300 average with 15 homers and 86 RBIs before being traded. Not worth $23 million, but numbers this team will miss going forward.

Dustin Pedroia, 2B - B+

Pedroia is the consummate warrior on the baseball field, playing the final two games of the season with a broken finger, despite the fact the team had been eliminated for weeks. He is unquestionably the team's heart and soul, as well as their best player. Pedroia churned out another above average season, despite playing much of the first half with a busted up thumb, and reached the 1,000 hit plateau just after his 29th birthday. Second base is one of the only positions that the Sox do not have to worry about entering 2013.

Will Middlebrooks, 3B - B+

And third base is one of the others. Middlebrooks completed his incredible rise through the system and reached the majors back in May. Before a broken wrist ended his season, he was a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate (non Mike Trout division) putting up 15 homeruns and an .835 OPS, but more than that he did something that just about no one else did this year. He excited people at Fenway.

Mike Aviles, SS - D+

When the decision was made to trade Marco Scutaro to Colorado and insert Aviles as the starter, it was certainly a head scratcher. The common notion was that Aviles could hit, but his fielding would be an issue. Turns out, the opposite was true. Aviles was a well above average shortstop, but his .282 OBP and his awful numbers at the dish following a hot April were his downfall. He may well be the starter again in 2013, but hopefully the organization can upgrade.

Daniel Nava, LF - B-

If you had told me during Spring Training that Daniel Nava would start more games than anyone else in LF, I would have had you committed. The guy didn't even get an invite to major league camp, yet because of injuries found himself in the starting line-up consistently. Nava did a solid job, but honestly, the fact that a team with a $175 million dollar payroll had Daniel Nava in their starting line-up tells you just about all you need to know about the 2012 Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF - D

Oh Ellsbury, you tease. After a 2011 season that saw him as the AL MVP runner-up, Ells started the season off by dislocating his shoulder in a freak sliding accident (not his fault) and ended it in a platoon with Che-Hsaun Lin (totally his fault). Considering he's looking for a $150 million dollar pay-day, 2013 is going to be a very interesting season for Mr. Ellsbury.

Cody Ross, RF - B+

Led the team in RBIs (81), played hard, and his walk-off homer against the White Sox in July may have been the highlight of the season for the team. The acquisition of Ross was a huge plus for Ben Cherington, now let's hope the outfielder is back next season.

David Ortiz, DH - A

Remember in April 2010 when Papi was hitting under .200 with 0 homeruns and everyone wanted to release him? Umm..me neither. Papi is back, and he's back big. Unfortunately for the Sox, Ortiz season basically came to an end in late July when he was rounding the bases after a game winning homer by Adrian Gonzalez (a game-winning homerun that ruins your season…the 2012 Red Sox everybody!), but when it ended Ortiz was leading the AL in OPS and leading the team in just about every offensive category imaginable. Now the question becomes, what does the team do with him? Give him the multi-year deal that he's asking for? Offer another one- year pact? Or let the big man walk? Stay tuned.

Rapid Fire Grades of Other Hitters

Pedro Ciriaco, IF - B Guy gets everything out of his talent that he possibly can, and he killed the Yankees. What more can you ask for?

Ryan Sweeney, OF - D I will never understand how a seemingly healthy 6'4'' man goes through an entire season without a homerun. Also broke his hand punching a wall.

Scott Podsednik, OF - C+ Scott Podsednik got 216 At-Bats for the 2012 Sox. There are no words.

Ryan Lavarnway/Pedro Ciriaco/Ryan Kalish - Incomplete  All three struggled immensely when given playing time. But you give up on them yet. Let's see what 2013 brings for these guys. 

Nick Punto, IF - F-  I just really disliked the Nick Punto era. 

Pitching Staff

Jon Lester, SP - D

An epic disaster. That's just about the only way to sum up Lester's 2012 campaign. Career worst's in Winning percentage, ERA, and WHIP, and an awful on the mound demeanor that saw him whining after just about every pitch. The best thing you can say about Lester is that he took the ball every five days, he was the only starter not to miss a start this year. 

Clay Buchholz, SP - C+

Clay Buchholz first 9 starts: 7.84 ERA

Clay Buchholz next 12 starts: 2.19 ERA

Clay Buchholz last 8 starts: 5.84 ERA

No idea what to make of this. Will the real Clay Buchholz please report to Spring Training in 2013? Thanks in advance.

Felix Doubront, SP - B-

The good: Over a strikeout per inning, sometimes electric stuff, solid rookie season.

The bad: Wore down over the course of the year, far too many walks.

The ugly: That his 11 wins actually led the team.

Josh Beckett, SP - F

Oh how the mighty have fallen. The 2007 post-season legend began his descent back to Earth in September of last year and completed his crash and burn this year. Even putting aside the off-field issues (poor conditioning, golfgate) his performance on the mound was U-G-L-Y. A 5.23 ERA for $17 million is unacceptable, and was a big reason he now calls Chavez Ravine home. 

Aaron Cook/Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP - F

One of the most embarrassing parts of this season was that the Sox somehow gave a combined 29 starts to these two guys and their combined 6.56 ERA. A couple of guys in their early 30s who have absolutely no chance of helping the 2013 team, yet here they were in September making starts. Just awful.

Alfredo Aceves, Closer - D-

I loved Aceves in 2011, had a legitimate man crush on the guy. Workhorse reliever who consistently put out fires in big moments, took the ball every day, never complained about a thing. Well let's just say things changed this year. He may well have been the worst closer in baseball: 10 losses and a 5.36 ERA, consistently mocked Bobby V (can't say I completely blame him, but still), and whined about his role to the point that he was suspended three games. 

Rapid Fire Grades of Other Pitchers

Daniel Bard, SP/RP - F Really hope this guy's career hasn't been ruined

Franklin Morales, SP/RP - B+ Really pleasant surprise in a season that didn't have many.

Scott Atchinson, RP - A Hey an A! 

Junichi Tazawa, RP - A+ Hey an A+!

Vicente Padilla, RP - C OK we're back to normal, Padilla was consistently inconsistent for the Sox this season. His 4.50 ERA sums that up.

Mark Melancon, RP - D- An abject disaster of a season, spent two months in Pawtucket and had an ERA over 6.

Andrew Miller, RP - B- Control issues aside he was a solid bullpen piece this year.

Clayton Mortensen, RP - B+ Another guy who quietly had a good year. He shouldn't have spent as much time as he did in Pawtucket. 

In the end, an ugly season produces a very ugly report card, but there is a sliver of silver lining with the firing of Valentine, and the Sox already opening contract negotiations with Ortiz and Ross, here's hoping that there's a lot more A's to dish out next year.

What grades would you give out? Let us know in the comment section. 

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