The 2012 edition of the Boston Red Sox has been a disaster. New England's beloved baseball team, winners of two World Series in the past decade, has been in disaray since their epic collapse in September of the 2011 season. Since that point, things have gone from bad to worse, to down right embarrassing.
Although we are experiencing the breakdown now, this collapse is the result of several years of poor decisions and mis-management. The ownership, which had been lauded for resurecting the storied franchise as well as restoring the beloved Fenway Park, seemed to have a change in philosophy. Their approach, which was once a two pronged system of developing the on-field talent while growing the business brand, had fallen by the wayside. They once allowed the baseball minds to make the baseball decisions, and the business minds to handle the branding and marketing of the club. However, at some point these two paths converged, and the resulting collision led to the epic failure.
Theo Epstein was the first one to identify the shift, noting that certain members of the ownership started affecting on-field decisions in order to "Feed the Monster." The group seemed to mortgage the team's results and future success in favor of preserving their "sell-out streak" and appeasing the "pink hat" fans. The appeal of big named free agents such as John Lackey and Carl Crawford caused the Sox to open up the checkbook, and throw rediculous money at these overrated and overpriced "stars." In doing so, the factors in the team's previous success, player development and team chemistry, were forgotten.
Epstein saw that this new philosophy had taken over and knew that he needed to part ways. He was able to jump ship, and seperate himself from the regime that once shared his vision. The team then promoted Ben Cherington to take over as General Manager, only to become a puppet to the ownership group's will. This was evidenced by the hiring of manager Bobby Valentine, a move not approved by Cherington, but rather Larry Lucchino. The move, which was widely unpopular among the Boston media, amplified the team's issues.
The team did make a few moves, albeit late, to right the sinking ship. They were able to ship the much maligned Josh Beckett, the underwhelming Carl Crawford, and the barely adequate Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers in exchange for a few prospects and a bucket of balls. This move freed up over $200 million in guaranteed contracts, and allowed the team to separate itself from negative clubhouse influences. They are also very likely to release their enigmatic manager, who lately has displayed very peculiar and questionable behavior, as soon as the season concludes.
The future direction of the Sox is still very questionable, and many question remain unanswered:
* What will their approach be to rebuilding this franchise? Will they throw good money after bad, and try to sign marketable stars to mega contracts? Or will they use moneyball practices, and search for value players who can contribute their sum to the whole?
* Who will they bring in to manage next years squad? Another old-school hard-ass like their current lame duck skipper? or will they go back to a soft and cuddly players manager like Tito?
* What is the ownership's stake in this teams success? Did they slash payroll in order to facilitate a sale? Are they committed to the quality of the on-field product? Would an ownership change be harmful or helpful for the future of this franchise?
Tune in to Psycho Sports this Wednesday at 10 PM, and we will attempt to address many of these questions and issues.
- Kevin Aherne
Host, Psycho Sports
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