When one thinks of the Boston Red Sox and their behind the scenes players, instinctively the first names that come to mind are general manager Theo Epstein and CEO Larry Lucchino. However, one man has been a major key to the success of the Sox over the past several seasons: Allard Baird.
Baird, hired by Epstein following his dismissal by the Kansas City Royals in 2006, is the vice president of player personnel, and the man largely in charge of finding players for Epstein.
Last season, Baird was tasked with the unenviable job of finding a significant number of bodies to replace a slew of injured players.
With injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Josh Beckett, Baird was literally in scramble mode. However, he was more than up to the task.
Baird was largely responsible for finding Scott Atchison, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava and Bill Hall, who ended up playing seven different positions over the course of the 2010 season with 18 home runs and 46 runs batted in.
While the Sox were unable to contend late in the season, they were second in the majors with 818 runs scored, all with a patchwork offense that saw manager Terry Francona trot out 143 different batting lineups over the course of the season.
Attrition is a natural course of events during any major league season for any team, however last season, the injury bug was particularly contagious in Boston, and Baird and his team of nine scouts saw to it that holes would be plugged with players who gave surprisingly significant contributions.
Epstein may be the face of the behind the scenes organization, but with Allard Baird, Epstein has the ability to turn rocks into diamonds in the rough.