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September 6, 2012

Bill James is not the answer to Sox woes

I get it. John Henry is a geek.

And his obsequious fondness toward the biggest geek in sports, famed baseball author/statistician Bill James, is not healthy.

Because Henry is an extremely rich geek, he has the checkbook as well as the power to put James in any position he darn well pleases. And a recent email to a Boston Herald writer implied James, after an apparent brief respite from consulting with the Red Sox baseball operations department, will be back making recommendations — maybe as a co-general manager — to Ben Cherington & Co.

That’s a mistake of Carl Crawford-like proportions.

In reality, the decline of the Red Sox over the last half-decade and, in particular, the two implosions over the last year, probably have as much to do with Henry’s mismanagement than anything else that James could have done. Henry, whether he lost his senses while courting a new love of his life or the obsession with growing the Fenway Sports Group, took his eye off his baseball team.

Here’s a fact Henry must face: The Red Sox are a mess of epic proportions and a “championship run” is out of the question for at least one or two more seasons.

James is not the answer. He’s an entertainer, albeit an incredibly geeky one.

Agreed, his paralysis-by-analysis is interesting, thought-provoking and has visionary qualities. He has player breakdowns for every baseball happenstance imaginable.

But his incredible library of information always seems to leave out one important factor about the game of baseball — it is played by human beings.

James can show me — and he did, through former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein — 10 different ways that J.D. Drew was not only a “great player” before he got to Boston, but he remarkably has data to “prove” his career was worth every cent of the $70 million he received.

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