Ben Cherington looking brilliant so far in 2013

GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox selected high school left-hander Trey Ball with their first pick Thursday night. (Getty Images)
GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox selected high school left-hander Trey Ball with their first pick Thursday night. (Getty Images)

With the Red Sox off to the start that they are, in first place in the AL East at the start of the second week in June, the question has been raised – who deserves the brunt of the credit?

After the disastrous 69-win season in 2012, changes needed to be made, and big ones too. First the manager was fired and a new, familiar face was brought in, in John Farrell, followed by a series of free agent signings and trades, some big and some small. The man behind these moves was general manager Ben Cherington and thus the man who deserves the majority of the credit for the team’s early success.

“We’ve got to build a better team,” Cherington said last November, a few weeks after trading for Farrell. “This is Boston, and we’re going to build a team as quick as we can. It’s not a two, four, five year plan.”

Many thought this season would be of the rebuilding variety in which the Sox might not contend for the AL East title, but because of the moves Cherington made the team is right there as one of the top teams in all of baseball.

As of yesterday, the team has nine players on the current 25-man roster that were not on the team last season and of the team’s 320 RBIs, 106 (33 percent) have come from those players. Obviously the acquiring of bigger name players like Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli stand out, but it’s the lesser known players that have made a significant impact.

Veterans David Ross and Jonny Gomes have been outstanding clubhouse guys, providing leadership as well as producing when called upon on the field. Koji Uehara has been arguably the Sox’ most consistent reliever as he’s tied for eighth in the American League in holds with 10.

Ryan Dempster, despite his 3-6 record, has pitched quite well with a 4.39 ERA before yesterday’s start. Mike Carp is hitting .317 with five home runs, despite not getting to play everyday. Finally, Stephen Drew has shown some signs of coming around offensively, despite his .234 average, and has played solid defense at shortstop.

Also, what often goes unnoticed is that Cherington did not trade closer Andrew Bailey after acquiring Joel Hanrahan, which proved beneficial when Hanrahan suffered a season-ending elbow injury last month.

Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84


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