It wasn’t long ago that teams in Major League Baseball envied the Boston Red Sox organization.
After winning the World Series in 2004 and 2007, the Sox were on top of the baseball world. They had all the makings of the perfect organization with a highly regarded farm system, the ability to make needed signings and not to mention the marketability of the team.
The success of the club was beneficial to former general manager Theo Epstein and the front office, but it also came with the added pressure to produce a competitive team every year in order to keep paying fans interested.
All this new found revenue from the expanding of the Red Sox brand was burning a hole in the team’s pocket and fans were begging the team to splurge.
The Sox won their titles with a combination of homegrown talent paired with low risk, high reward signings. Those squads came together and played inspired baseball in a selfless manner that allowed for the team to defy odds and give people something to believe in. It was all about a team concept with guys like catcher Jason Varitek, right fielder Trot Nixon, first baseman Kevin Millar, third baseman Mike Lowell and pitcher Curt Schilling exemplifying through words or actions that the team’s needs and success comes first.
Even with such a successful strategy in place, the Sox felt that they would not be able to continue winning without using a great deal of the revenue they had accumulated.
The team was pressured to make splashes to maintain fan interest and bringing in high-profile names like first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher John Lackey, right fielder J.D. Drew and shortstops Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo on long and expensive contracts was the way to do it. While most of the spending was deemed necessary, in reality the team got into bidding wars with other clubs and increased the price-tag on some of the signings.
Some of these signings had varying degrees of success, but one thing was clear; they may be the Red Sox, but not the ones we had come to love and appreciate.
The new players that the front office brought in definitely boasted some statistical worth, but they did not fully live up to it upon their tenures while also bringing in their own agendas and a lack of character to the clubhouse. The personalities within the dugout did not mesh like a championship team, nor did they play like one on the field as the teams from 2008-12 have seen a steady decline in win total.
It may have been too late, but current general manager Ben Cherington looked past the play on the field this year and saw this inability to develop team chemistry as the real hindrance.
A big move was the only way to make amends and that’s why Gonzalez, Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and their $260 million combined salary had to be sent packing.
Cherington told the press that the “team the fans deserve and the one we want required a bold move.
It was indeed a bold move, but how does a move like this help the situation and appease fans?
Cherington has been with the organization since 1999, so he has seen what it takes to build and break a championship contender. The trade was an opportunity for Cherington to wipe the slate clean and get back to basics in reshaping the team into its previous form.
Cherington spoke of “disciplined decisions” when asked about how the club planned to use the newly acquired salary space. Seeing how Epstein’s big signings panned out, it is doubtful that Cherington will allow himself or the club to get into bidding wars over players that are not a fit. Instead, Cherington will more than likely look to reload by finding cost-efficient value through trades, secondary free agent market, and signing the teams own free agents.
In addition to the salary dump, Cherington was able to obtain five players from Los Angeles that fill a need on the major league squad now or will contribute in the very near future. Two of the key players acquired by Boston, pitchers Ruby Gonzalez and Allen Webster, are highly touted pitching prospects that are said to have a great deal of potential and will need just a bit more grooming in the minors before they are major league ready.
Finding cost-efficient acquisitions and developing minor league talent — sounds like an awfully familiar strategy.
While the team has a plan of attack, fans may still be reeling from the demise of the past few years.
It’s a distressing but exciting time to be a Red Sox fan, but it may finally be time for Boston fans to let up a bit to allow the healing process for the team and themselves to begin.
Fans need to concede in their efforts to manage the team from the couch or through calls to their local sports radio station to vent frustration. The best thing a fan can do is embrace the Sox as they are and watch it all unfold at this point.
Nobody can say that they know everything will be turned around by the spring of 2013, but if fans can go in with low expectations its possible they could be rewarded with a Sox team that produces above expectation baseball.