The Red Sox have caught a lot of heat this offseason, and, admittedly, much of it has been deserved. But a recent column in The Boston Globe regarding the team’s current state seemed more like a barroom rant than a levelheaded assessment.
Dan Shaughnessy labeled the Red Sox a “doofus organization,” before then going on a lengthy tirade about the club’s tumultuous offseason and eventually questioning ownership’s intelligence.
Sure, the organization has seen better days, as the Sox failed to live up to their World Series aspirations in 2011 and have since had a roller-coaster offseason. But much of what Shaughnessy points to as reasons why the team’s ownership is, in his opinion, inept is based around offseason happenings that are either irrelevant, too early to judge or completely unworthy of such bold, senseless scrutiny.
The Red Sox did collapse down the stretch, and the fallout has been less than glorious, especially the departures of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein and rumors regarding a lack of leadership in the clubhouse. But to go ahead and label an entire organization — one that’s won two World Series titles since 2004 — as “doofus” is just bit mind-boggling.
The Epstein compensation talks have been drawn out and the frequent news that there is no news is rather strange. But to criticize the Red Sox for a lack of resolution means one is nitpicking a bit.
Epstein is a great baseball executive and one who helped lead the Sox to success they hadn’t enjoyed in nearly a century. But when it comes down to his departure, should the Sox really have held out for Matt Garza, as Shaughnessy suggests?
Epstein may have had value — although “tremendous value” may be overstating it — but holding an entire franchise hostage while its general manager situation plays out would have been equally as frustrating to watch. After Francona’s departure, Epstein represented the first domino, and it was crucial for the team to figure out if he was officially Chicago-bound. As much uncertainty as there still is in Boston, there would have been even more uncertainty if the future of the team’s GM position remained in limbo much longer.
What’s interesting about Shaughnessy’s insistence that the Sox should have held out before letting Epstein head to Chicago, though, is that he’s also a bit concerned about how long the managerial search is taking, pointing to the Cardinals’ swift hiring of Mike Matheny as their skipper. This begs the question of why he feels it’s prudent that the team exhibit so much patience when it comes to one facet of the organization, but then assume something’s wrong with the “chain of command” when such patience is shown in a different area.
Finding a new Red Sox manager is important, but what’s more important is finding the right guy, no matter who’s involved in the decision-making, what goes into the decision-making and how long it takes to arrive at said decision.
Shaughnessy feels the Sox made Ben Cherington look powerless, as he says the Sox GM went to the Dominican Republic to scout Cuban prospect Yoenis Cespedes “while the grown-ups resume the managerial search.” The only problem with that logic is that talks with Bobby Valentine, a new candidate for the position, were put on hold while Cherington was in the D.R. So what could really be the case is that Cherington and the Sox also realize the team needs to continue to address the on-field product — as crazy as that notion may sound.
And when it comes to that on-field product, most players still view the Red Sox as a franchise committed to winning. Jonathan Papelbon has left town, but not offering him a record-setting deal to trump Philadelphia’s shouldn’t be held against the Sox, as doling out hefty contracts to relievers is risky business. If the Sox do look for a long-term replacement for Papelbon outside the organization, though, free-agent closer Heath Bell appears more than willing if they come knocking with a suitable offer.
The same can likely be said for a number of other free agents. And why shouldn’t Boston remain a prime destination for those on the open market? The team’s activity when it comes to thinking outside the box in the way of transactions and player development is admirable, even if rough times (like the collapse and this offseason) do fall upon it from time to time.
So while Shaughnessy wants to sit around and speculate about who’s flexing their muscles inside the team’s front office, it might be best to take a step back and let things play out a bit before crying wolf for seemingly the hundredth time this offseason.
At the end of the day, the only concern is that the Sox — as a whole — are able to flex their muscle in the AL East in 2012. 2011 may have ended prematurely, and that obviously can’t be completely thrown out. But something tells me that the Red Sox will continue to remain competitive despite everything else that’s gone on.
And that, my friend, in and of itself, proves that this “cumbersome ownership group” knows what its doing when it comes to running this “doofus organization.”
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