The 2012 season is as fresh as a new coat of paint but that didn’t stop Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino from discussing the possibility and ability of the Red Sox to add more payroll this season. More specifically, Lucchino stated that the management’s willingness to dish out additional dollars would be designed to improve their starting pitching with the obvious target being free-agent Roy Oswalt.
But quite often money doesn’t buy happiness and in sports it far too often doesn’t buy a championship, just ask the New York Yankees. For the Red Sox to increase their payroll even higher and once again be penalized by the luxury tax threshold won’t solve the situation at hand which is a history of bad contracts that strap this club performance wise.
One would think that by now Lucchino and company would have come to some sort of self realization of what happened over the past three years. Inking free-agents to over-priced contracts only to have them under perform has left this club in a state disarray. Names like John Lackey, Bobby Jenks and Carl Crawford are the first that come to mind and those ones make any Sox fan squeamish. Heck, the total amount of salaries that started the season on the DL is almost equal to the Tampa Bay Rays entire payroll. Over $57M is sitting on the injured-reserved shelf and the team is off to a struggling start. Now the brass want to solve the problem by the same actions that put them in this exact position; throw money at it. Shame, shame, shame. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Theo Epstein played with house money for years in Boston and his two World Series overshadow the path of destruction that he left behind. He bolted for the windy city and the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, but Sox fans are left with daily reminders of the repercussions of trying to buy your way out of a bad situation.
I’m not saying this is a bridge year and all is lost before it ever really gets going. It’s not time to hit the panic button….yet. But if Lucchino et al, think that going out and adding a boatload of salary will turn this ship around they are dead wrong. What is it going to take? How about some internal candidates like Youkilis, Ellsbury, Ross and move Bard to the pen. I’m fine with adding Oswalt to the rotation or trading for a guy like Gavin Floyd, surely another $3-5 million is acceptable. Anything more than that is best to be offset by shedding payroll elsewhere, for example trading Kevin Youkilis.
At 33, Youkilis is still a valuable bat and an average third baseman. His salary has been $12M for the past two years and yet another possible question mark as to why Theo threw such a lofty salary over a four-year period for a body that is breaking down. Granted they didn’t know Youk would break down and decline the way he has, but isn’t that what scouts are for? To analyze the way he plays the game and determine whether or not he can maintain his performance at that level? A deal involving Youkilis could be the answer, providing Cherington negotiates a young, powerful arm in return. This is a deal that may need to happen sooner than later to avoid throwing more money at players who aren’t the answer.
What about giving a youngster a chance to come up and play hero for a month and a half. That doesn’t happen often because of the team’s desire to bring in veteran players with the fix it now mentality. A player like Jose Iglesias would bring some freshness to what has become a stale clubhouse.
Somewhere over the past three seasons all was lost in Boston. The management focused their interests elsewhere and as a result the club is slowly decaying around them. Multiple leaks have sprung and this boat is in need of repair. Let’s all hope they don’t use bubble gum to plug those holes.