First, Texas Rangers pitching coach, Mike Maddux, spurned the opportunity to interview for the vacant managerial position, then Jonathan Papelbon bolted to Philly. Mike Maddux claimed that the Red Sox managers position didn’t fit for his family, yet he interviewed with the Cubs. Both are big cities with huge fan bases. Both are pressure cookers to manager in, in fact there is more pressure in Chicago who haven’t won anything since 1908. But, for some reason he didn’t even want to interview here. Yes, the red Sox were still able to lineup some candidates to interview for Francona’s open spot, but you don’t see people coming out of the woodwork to come here. Is it because this isn’t a very likable team right now and who wants the headache to clean this mess up?
I’m not surprised about Jonathan Papelbon’s departure, I don’t think anyone was. What does surprise me is how he left. It has been no secret that Papelbon has always looked forward to the day he could test the free agent market. He rejected any contract extensions since he became arbitration eligible. Papelbon was all about getting the most money, regardless where he went. But, he left us all with a bad taste. Did he have any intention of coming back? We knew his decision was going to be financially based first. But, to not even give his team of seven years a phone call to tell them the offer he has on the table and give them an opportunity to match or out bid the Phillies, total disrespect. That tells me that this just wasn’t about going to the highest bidder. This was about getting out of Boston as fast as he could. The Sox never attempted to give Papelbon an offer, so maybe they wanted him out of town as much as he wanted to go.
Is there an underlining problem arising? Does anyone want to come here? Forget the collapse, this is still a talented team and will still be one of the favorites to win it all in 2012. Curt Schilling may have summed it up perfectly when he said, “Why would anyone want to root for this team?” That’s true, why would we. The Sox need a starting pitcher, who in their right mind wants to come here and take the chance of being alienated by the Beckett, Lester and Buchholz clique? The one thing everyone knows is that there is going to be a rookie manager at the helm. Is that in the Sox favor or will that keep any potential free agents to keep the Sox off their radar? I think we are about to find out and soon.
The talk of the off season has been about the lack of leadership on this team. How Theo Epstein and Terry Francona lost control. We all thought that Jason Varitek was a leader, only to find out that he wasn’t. Forget leadership, is their anyone likable on this team? Don’t you get the feeling that Jacoby Ellsbury is going to pull a Jonathan Papelbon in two years? Who does that leave? We already know the starters are an unlikable bunch. None of the position starters have the personalities of those past, “idiots.” Dustin Pedroia is the closet thing to a personality that we have. I was on the fence whether to sign David Ortiz or not when the season ended, now it is a need. The one thing you can say about Ortiz is that he is likable. Players and fans like Big Papi, but does Big Papi really want to be here or is he facing reality and knows the opportunities will be limited in the open market? Who was the last Red Sox player that you’ve heard say. “I want to be a Red Sox for my entire career.” Then again, have you ever heard John Henry or Larry Lucchino say that about a player? This isnt just about the players, I think the Red Sox ownership has been stumbling along this off season.
I think the Red Sox image has been tarnished this off season. I think they will have a hard time convincing players that Boston is the place they will want to play in. Funny how you wake up one day and scratch your head wondering, just who are these guys? We talk more about who we want to get out of here more than we do about coming.