Our Fenway Frauds miniseries returns as we look at one of the most vile professional sports franchises in North America: the Boston Red Sox. Remember, after years of ramping up the efforts to beat the New York Yankees, the organization finally won a World Series in 2004 with a bunch of bad apples.
So, what did the team do for a follow-up? Merely won 95 games to tie the Yankees atop the AL East Division standings with mostly the same cast of characters, committed to the cause. This is what we found in perusing the roster … and it was hard, admittedly, since we’ve already covered so many dudes.
Exhibit A: Tony Graffanino
Yes, he compiled just 200 plate appearances after being acquired midseason from the Kansas City Royals, but Graffanino fits a profile: age 33 and posted the highest OPS for his career (.812), in terms of volume. A career .265 hitter, he managed a .319 average while filling a hole at second base for the Red Sox. And yes, you guessed it: That batting average was also a career high for this little-known scrub.
This short stint with the Fenway Frauds was enough to get a mediocre utility infielder more than $5M more in contracts at his age—including a $1M raise in 2006 from the Royals, who took him back after this demonstration of “prowess” in Boston. Temptation for a guy who had made less than $5M in his 9-year career up to this point? You betcha.
Exhibit B: Mike Myers
This tradition LOOGY was 36 years old during the regular season, but he ended up posting his best seasonal ERA since his age-31 season. Overall, Myers had a 4.29 career ERA with 9 teams over 13 MLB seasons. But his lone full season in Boston—2005—he put up a 3.13 ERA, which led to almost $2.5M more in contracts before he washed out of the majors after the 2007 season.
His seasons prior to joining the Red Sox: 4.38 in Arizona (2002); 5.70 in Arizona (2003); and 4.88 in Seattle (2004). His traveling through so many cities with such a mediocre career ERA tells you all you need to know about Myers’ minimal ability, but his ERA in Boston (3.44) and New York in 2006-2007 (2.90) reveal a change in habits between 2004 and 2005 that wasn’t just managing and usage.
Exhibit C: Mike Timlin
We know we already have singled him out, but we have to again: at age 39, Timlin led the AL in appearances (81) while posting a 2.24 ERA—a figure he hadn’t come close to since 1995. In fact, that age-29 season was the only other time in his career that he cracked the 2.50 barrier for ERA. Truth was the Red Sox needed a temporary closer, and Timlin somehow found the strength in his age-39 arm.
We’re not buying it. Timlin’s career is full of inconsistency, first off, and even though we analyzed his junk already, his 3.63 ERA reveals he was never a dominant reliever—except for this season, really, when he recorded his most saves since 1999. His pattern fits one of the player who is often injured/tired and uses temporarily just to get his groove back. Temptation would have been high in this locker room, anyway.
Conclusion: Anyone in this clubhouse is suspect, basically
These three guys do not provide the kind of open-and-shut cases like we have seen in the past, but they’re pretty consistent in patterns we’ve seen elsewhere, too. Plus, once the Red Sox got a taste of success—without punishment, just like the San Francisco Giants—they were not going to stop doing what they were doing. We’ve seen this throughout the years since, of course, in Boston.
This is a cheating culture, where anyone who steps into the locker room and struggles was going to be encouraged to use, and the benefits to the players were obvious, too: money and probably more of it than they’d ever made before, as the Red Sox fans finally could throw their money at a winner. After all, in the end, that’s what it always comes down to, isn’t it?