May 16, 2007


The Shrewd Craft of Building Depth (WILL CARROLL, May 16, 2007, NY Sun)

They play a game in the Boston Red Sox front office each off-season. A giant magnetic whiteboard is arranged with hundreds of small tiles. Each tile has the name of a player on it, and each tile's slot on the board gives that player's position and his location in the organization — Boston, Pawtucket, or Fort Myers. It is more than a depth chart, it is a list of assets as real as the balance sheet or the Green Monster outside.

In this game, one of the team's operations staff turns away from the board for a moment, and another surreptitiously takes a tile or two off the board. The first staffer then turns around and adjusts the chart to fill in for missing tiles. If Manny Ramirez pulls a hamstring, they've played the game enough times to know that Wily Mo Pena takes over in left, that Kevin Youkilis gets slotted in as the emergency left fielder, and that prospect David Murphy is only a phone call away and posting an OBP over .400 down on the farm. If it's Curt Schilling bleeding from the ankle, the Red Sox quickly shift Devern Hansack up from Pawtucket, or later in the season, they know they will have Jon Lester available.

I was told this story of the whiteboard at the 2005 Winter Meetings by a Red Sox staffer with a sly grin. I'm still not sure if they actually play this game, but every team has its version of the whiteboard, and every team at least considers what happens when — not if — injuries hit. The reason that it's believable with Boston is that they never seem to be caught unprepared. At any position on the diamond, in the rotation or the bullpen, the Sox have not just one option, but a range of possibilities that cascade out — shifting a player here, another player there, or start the web of phone calls from the front office to other teams when a trade is needed.

In contrast, Brian Cashman and the Yankees have a whiteboard or something similar somewhere in their offices, but when Cashman looks at it, he must only see more problems.

They're thin and shallow.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 16, 2007 1:03 PM

Uh-huh. Yep.

Problem is, ot only do the Yanks have the 2nd best minor league system overall and far and away the best pitching, system wide, but they also demolished the Sawx in last year's draft.

The Sawx have Wily-K-Mo and Lester? Oh dear. I'll take Melky and St. Phil over those two any day.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 16, 2007 5:25 PM