Boston Red Sox: Why the Red Sox Should Never Have Signed Mike Cameron

Ben SullivanCorrespondent IJune 30, 2011

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 14:  Outfielder Mike Cameron #23 of the Boston Red Sox waits at second base against the New York Yankees during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at City of Palms Park on March 14, 2011 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

In a move that shocked pretty much no one, The Red Sox designated outfielder Mike Cameron for assignment today. 

Cameron had been abysmal at the plate and no longer possesses the defensive skills he once had. 

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that he didn’t work out. I’ve spent all afternoon trying to figure out exactly what the Red Sox thought he was going to bring to the team at the age of 38 this season. 

He was only a good player when he was able to cover large stretches of the outfield and get to balls that the average guy couldn’t. That’s not a skill you keep forever. 

Pitchers can learn how to be effective when they lose their fastball, infielders can even remain viable if they learn how to be smarter hitters. They start earning more walks and still find ways to help their team. 

But outfielders whose prime asset is their athleticism? They don’t age well. 

The Red Sox never should have signed him last season, and certainly should have been able to see this type of decline coming. 

But the bigger issue is that this type of signing, overpaying an aging player, is exactly what the arch rival Yankees have been doing for years. 

The Yankees set the blueprint for how to act as a baseball team when your owners let you just print money. 

Instead of focusing on developing your young players, you take a short term approach to building your team and throw good money after bad players who have clearly seen their best days. If the best asset a player brings to your team is that fair weather fans might recognize his name, that should be enough not to sign him. 

I don’t like seeing the Sox go down this path. I liked when they were the franchise that built their team the right way. 

They won two World Series in the last decade by grooming their minor league talent, giving their free agent money to players who were still on the upswing of their career, and filling any veteran holes through inexpensive trades. 

This was the way that worked for them, this was the strategy that got them to the top of the MLB mountain, so why did they go away from it? 

Because it’s the easy way out, that’s why. 

It’s hard to do it the right way. You have to be disciplined and daring all at the same time. 

You have to be disciplined enough to stay with the young players like Lester, Youkilis and Pedroia. And when you do hand out money to free agents, you have to be willing to go after the big fish, not just hand out money to players like Mike Cameron. 

The Sox haven’t gone off the deep end yet, they made moves this offseason that I like, especially giving all that money to Carl Crawford. 

Sure, it’s a risk, and he hasn’t done much so far to justify the deal, but the investment is for the long term. Instead of using the money for a short sighted fix, they went out and got a player who has the talent to be a franchise player. 

So I’m hoping that today was a sobering day for Theo and the gang. I’m hoping that they have learned to value the roster spots that they have. 

But mostly I’m hoping that they don’t give one away to a 38-year-old defensive outfielder again.