Sox Should Focus On 2013 Now!
Monday, August 20, 2012
If the front office of the Boston Red Sox were smart, which is highly debatable, they should immediately begin the process of preparing for next year.
Like it or not, the 2012 season has been over for a while for Boston. Even with the addition of a second wild card team in each league, their realistic chances of making it to the post season this year have been as dead as the late, great Johnny Pesky for some time now.
For that reason, all of their efforts should be focused on April of 2013 when this team will hit the diamond with a clean slate for what will hopefully be a fresh start of a new era.
There are many things that need to be done between now and the start of next season. Here’s a look at a few of them:
The first, and arguably the toughest, thing that needs to be done is for this ownership group to promote an atmosphere of accountability where everyone from the owner on down accepts responsibility for his actions.
This may be a very difficult task for the organization to accomplish given their propensity to try to put a spin on everything that is even remotely controversial. They are the kings of excuse making and it has created a toxic atmosphere within the entire organization. Until and unless this changes, this organization will never be able to get back to where they once were which was a perennial championship contender.
The next step for the club will be to empower new general manager Ben Cherrington to make the moves that he believes are necessary to improve the ballclub no matter what the consequences might be.
If Cherrington believes, like most of Red Sox Nation, that getting rid of Josh Beckett is necessary this offseason, then he must be allowed to do that no matter how much of his remaining salary the club has to eat.
Cherrington must also be the one who is allowed to decide what, if anything needs to be done with the likes of Carl Crawford, John Lackey, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and others on the roster.
In regard to Crawford, the first move that should be made immediately, as in – today, is that he should be allowed to have Tommy John surgery to repair his injured elbow. The 2012 season is lost so there is no sense wheeling Crawford out there every day and delaying the inevitable. Let him have the surgery now because the sooner it is done, the sooner he will be able to return to help this team next season.
Lackey’s situation is a difficult one in that, like Beckett, he has two years left on his deal at big money. Given his lack of production here and the fact that he is coming off of Tommy John surgery himself, it will be hard to find any takers for Lackey this offseason. It would also seem unlikely that the club would be willing to eat a large portion of both his contract and Josh Beckett’s. And, given the fact that Beckett is really the first one who needs to be exiled, Boston may be stuck with Lackey for 2013.
David Ortiz’s situation will be an interesting one. At age 36, Big Papi is getting along in years and his inability to return quickly from his Achilles injury is a big red flag when considering his future here. At best, the team would be wise to offer him arbitration one more time so that they would only have to be locked into him for one season. If Ortiz is unhappy with that, he can reject arbitration and test the free agent waters.
Ellsbury’s situation is another one worth watching. On the one hand, he had an MVP-type season in 2011. On the other hand, he has been unable to stay healthy for a majority of his young career and has only one homerun this year in limited play after belting 32 last season. Add to that the fact that he is a client of Scott Boras and many believe that he wants out of Boston following the 2013 season, and the time may be right to move him this offseason. Given the fact that he and Crawford are very similar type players, does it make sense to invest big bucks into both of them?
Cherrington also needs to understand that the future of this club should be centered around players like Will Middlebrooks, Pedro Ciriaco, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez. Those are some of the building blocks that should provide the foundation for the future.
In addition to empowering Cherrington to make all of the personnel decisions this offseason, ownership also needs to let the GM pick the right manager to lead the club.
It’s safe to say that Larry Lucchino’s choice – Bobby Valentine – is not the right fit for this job. That’s not to say that what has happened this season is his fault. However, his old school style of managing doesn’t appear to be conducive motivating today’s overpaid, egotistical ballplayers.
The feeling is that the organization would love to bring John Farrell back to manage the team but he still has one year remaining on his deal with Toronto. Could the Red Sox work out a compensation package with the Blue Jays if they really feel that Farrell is the right guy for the job? Certainly. And they should work toward that end if they do have that much faith in him.
Another name that has been thrown around as a potential replacement for Valentine is Jason Varitek. While the love for Varitek in these parts is more than understandable, he is most definitely not the right man for the job at this time.
First of all, Varitek not only has no managerial experience, he has no coaching experience whatsoever. People point to the success of Joe Girardi as an example that Varitek could work out, but he had prior managerial experience before going to New York to lead the Yankees.
Furthermore, Varitek is not yet far enough removed from this team to come in and be their boss. There are too many of his former teammates still on the roster. Until most, if not all of them, are gone, he should not be considered a legitimate candidate for the job.
Another name many Red Sox fans would love to see on the bench is Terry Francona. That’s right, Terry Francona back on the Boston bench.
For an organization so enamored with the public relations aspect of everything, admitting they were wrong by firing Tito and bringing him back would be a grand slam!
However, this scenario also appears unlikely. First of all, the egos of Henry, Werner, Lucchino, et al are probably too gigantic to allow them to admit to making such a mistake.
Secondly, I’m not sure Francona would want to come back to Boston following the way he was treated by that ownership group on the way out the door. Not only was Francona made the fall guy for the September 2011 collapse, he was also smeared by the organization in the media for having been divorced and allegedly addicted to painkillers on his way out the door. It was another unfortunate example of the type of spin control that this ownership group feels is necessary every time someone questions their moves.
In the end, there is much work to be done by the Boston Red Sox organization and that work needs to begin now with all eyes on 2013.