We ask for a FIFTH time: Who kidnapped our Red Sox?
Hand me my Red Sox souvenir Giant Foam Finger, YET, ONCE AGAIN!
A: ALL of the above! And it’s time for the Citizens of Red Sox Nation to take their team back!
(ED. NOTE: After naming names and pinning blame in parts 1-5, in part 6 we will make the case that Sox fans need to pull together and adopt the Green Bay Packers plan, where the fans own the team, or else we are stuck with a disinterested owner, an ego maniac CEO, who thinks he knows more about baseball than the GM, and a GM who takes out his resentment of the CEO on the manager, who was hired by the CEO.
Thus, we will use a series format with 6 posts:
1-4 will point the finger at the Owner, CEO,  GM, and  Manager.
5 PLAYERS, we will blame a few players and suggest “deep drill” surgery for the patient. [think trades and prospects]
6 will offer a plan to take the team back [think Green Bay Packers]
As Casey Stengel said to the press corps after winning the 1958 World Series:
““I couldn’t have done it without my players.”
Certainly the Red Sox inept management could not have failed so badly without the players. After the tepid reaction to the Pitchers of Beer scandal, no one in the Fenway Brain Truss—not Henry, not Larry, not Gentle Ben—have backed any criticism of the players. Cherington sided publicly with Pedroia over Valentine.
It is axiomatic that “management” hire and fire “non-management” and that it is easier to sacrifice one scapegoat, regardless of winning performances*, than taking the time to meticulously root out the few players who are stinking up the clubhouse.
As a public service to Red Sox Nation, we will do the dirty work in this article.
Manager Valentine was asked if his players were responding to his ‘style’?
“I don’t know what my style is,’’ he answered. “Guys who are having good seasons have responded well. Guys who are not having good seasons are not responding well.’’
We begin our “Blame the Players,” inquisition by opening up a case of “Whup Ass,” unsure if 24 aerosol cans would be enough to cover the clubhouse, trainer’s room, and showers. But, once we shook the first can for 30 seconds, popped off the cap, and put our right index finger on the red spray button, we were hard pressed to find more than a handful of players who needed a “Whup Ass” treatment.
Think about it; consider the starters and tell me which one is part of the problem:
Did you find anybody on that list that is a slacker, dogging it, jaking it, choking, or laying down?
How about these guys:
Crawford, Lavarnway, Punto, Sweeney, Shoppach, Kalish, Ciriaco, Nava.
Let’s keep our can of Whup Ass in the “Cops Clear Scene,” 2-handed, straight-armed position as we stalk the clubhouse for hiding perps. “Clear!” OK, let’s head out to the bullpen.
So far, since we cannot blame a guy for getting injured, I have not a single suspect.
Oh, man, the game has started! We need to get out of the Sox pen! Better head back to the clubhouse and pack up our Whup Ass.
Wait! I hear laughter coming from the Trainer’s room!
[whispered, forcefully] Resume 2-handed, straight-armed position!
And, also, the “Left-overs:” Bench coach Bogar, Pitching coach McClure, Bullpen coach Gary Tuck.
Say, coaches: I noticed you guys are able to talk, to each other. Do you all get a sudden attack of Social Anxiety Disorder when the manager is around? Oh, right, only Bobby Valentine.
At last, we have a Sox Suspect Six Pack. Bring in our Strip Search Crew, Janet Napolitano and the DHS Gal Pals. Once they’re done with the boys, we’ll herd them [the boys] into the shower room for a thorough Whup Ass treatment.
Way back on April 10, before the Sox had played a half dozen games, we averred:
“It all comes down to one player, Josh Beckett. After administering five “Punxsutawney Phil Pills” [homers] in less than 5 innings in Detroit, is Beckett ready to get past his hatred of his manager and return to his form [15-10], or will he remain in his funk for the rest of the season and, with several curious stays on the DL, start fewer games and sink under .500, say 8 and 12?
If Beckett chooses to play “The Josher,” the petulant post-college frat boy, that 8-12 record will probably mean the Sox will not even make a Wild Card slot; consider the AL West with the Rangers and the Angels racking up wins against the Seattle Marinades and the Oakland Haze.
Ben and the Braintruss can wait to see if The Josher can fundamentally rectify his mood when he faces division rival Tampa next, or they can start shopping him and trade for a pitcher with a better attitude–now.
We may have been wrong; it may not come down to just one player, but we may have been right in naming Beckett as the Ring Leader of The Bad Boys of Beer. We were correct in suggesting that the Sox trade Josh ASAP, before he went further into the tank.
The clubhouse is like a barrel of fish at the market; they look fine, but, down deep, there’s the easily identified smell of Stage Seven Putrefaction; it takes only a few, say maybe six, or even just one, rotting fish to spoil the barrel.
Here Dan Shaughnessy asks:
“Josh Beckett and Lackey carry themselves as unlikable characters who don’t care about the image they present to fans and media. Despite this, they get unwavering support from their teammates. We repeatedly ask why they receive this support. Should we instead be asking what this support says about the people who populate the Red Sox roster?”
A: Five capital letters: M L B P A, the acronym for the Major League Baseball Players Association. Anyone who has ever belonged to a union understands the fundamental law of solidarity. You don’t bad mouth a fellow union member, at least not in public or the media. [NOTE: they need to add an apostrophe to their name: Major League Baseball Players’ Association.]
This brings us to a point of Ubiquitous Blame; a lack of leadership in the clubhouse. You can discover a leader and name him Captain and hope it works. Some Captains, like Tek, do not engender respect with speeches; they do it with that look in their eyes. The Red Sox don’t need to name a Captain, the team needs someone to step up and be a leader.
The worst thing about the September Swoon was that, apparently, nobody took the role of leader; nobody called a players meeting and effectively “took names and kicked ass.” It did not need to be a finger-pointing session; somebody needed to say “We suck! It’s time we acted like Professional baseball players. Where is your self-respect? Where is your pride? Reach back and get it done! Find that spark for the fire in your belly. You owe it to your family, the fans, and your team mates.”
Then, somebody needed to take Beckett out to dinner for steak and wine and remind him that, all else aside, if he doesn’t find a way to get it done, it will make him completely untradeable.
Instead, Beckett has become the Anti-Captain, the bummer, the sullen adolescent, the malingerer, the infection agent for Downer Disease. [NOTE: for my sympathetic take on Josh, go to this post: http://bosoxinjection.com/2012/07/19/youre-josh-beckett-family-man-and-youre-dreaming-about-a-trade-to-texas/]
OK, time to pick up our case of Whup Ass and head to the showers.
Let’s get started by sending the coaches to the bullpen for a treatment session with Big Sis and her Gal Pals. If these guys think they can decide not to communicate with their manager, they are fired. Let the new manager for 2013 pick his own coaches. Valentine? Didn’t you read that we said he was a very intelligent man? Catch him on Baseball Tonight with his desk partner Tito.
You may not agree with me, but I am sending Lester to the Trainer’s room for a thorough medical exam; a guy with that much talent, who is not intentionally sabotaging the Red Sox, must have a physical problem. Maybe he goes DL for 15 days and returns to his Ace role.
That leaves two suspects: John Lackey and Josh Beckett.
My bookie, Mikey, gives the shortest odds that Lackey was the leak to the front office about the Ellsbury Insult Incident and likely others to the media. Mikey is calculating the odds that Lackey has Schilling the Shill on speed dial.
“Lackey was so busted up after the latest defeat that he was strutting around the clubhouse with a can of Bud Light in each hand, or what is known as “double-fisting” on every college campus in the history of mankind. So much for the Bobby Valentine ban on alcohol in the Sox clubhouse that was implemented during spring training.”
The team can no longer endure a Lurking Lackey in the clubhouse. What to do?
The Red Sox revenues will dramatically increase with the new TV broadcast deals. Instead of turning those profits to gold bars in deposit boxes offshore, the Sox need to re-invest it in making the team mentally healthy and hungry again.
You keep Lackey until he comes back from his surgery; run him out there for a start of two; then, trade him to a Big Market team sloshing in the new media contract money. You offer to pay half of his remaining salary on a yearly basis, you take a bullpen filler and a pitching prospect and you don’t look back.
2013 34 Boston Red Sox $15,250,000
2014 35 Boston Red Sox $15,250,000
201536Boston Red Sox*$500,000$500k Vesting Option. Club option at minimum for 2015 if Lackey misses significant time 2010-2014 due to an elbow injury Earliest Free Agent: 2015.
Yes, it’s a ton of money to “give up,” but there is a truism: “Don’t throw good money after bad.” Time to suck it up. Yes, it was Theo who made this huge mistake—“Wah! Wah!” John Henry, wouldn’t you gladly pay the fumigation cost for your summer home?
Mr. Henry, since you have already doubled your investment [$1.3 BILLION], peel off a few bills from your media contract windfall and fix your team. Or, sell it to the fans…
[We feel obligated to provide a link to John Tomase's article that says the players love the guy: http://www.bostonherald.com//sports/baseball/red_sox/view.bg?articleid=1061152412&utm_source=Enews&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=SECTION_sports_DATE_08-11-2012--07.08]
Again, “It all comes down to one player, Josh Beckett.”
This final fix will shock some Sox fans, but we are playing a zero sum game with three factors: 40-man roster players, prospects, and cash. As the old song says: “Somethin’s Gotta Give.” Or, simply, “No pain; no gain.”
Although it would be very “nice” for the Red Sox to be kind to Josh Beckett and try to send him and his family back to Texas with a trade to the Rangers, it is not likely that Nolan Ryan would be willing to give much back.
Yes, there was talk of Beckett and Ellsbury going to Texas for “something.” At best, since the Rangers have the #1 position prospect in baseball, SS Jurickson Profar, tearing up the minors and ready to force himself onto the Rangers starting lineup, they may be willing to send Elvis to Boston, SS Elvis Andrus for Josh and Jacoby.
The penultimate best option for the Sox was floated by the Globe’s Nick Cafardo:
“The best part of it is that the Red Sox and Mariners would make terrific trading partners.
The Sox have two guys from the Northwest — Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury — who would probably love to come home. The drop-off from Hernandez to Lester isn’t overly substantial, and the gain of Ellsbury, a player who would electrify the Mariners’ offense, would be significant.”
We tweaked the deal a bit in a previous post, making the same case for trading for a proven Ace, a genuine #1 slot starter, King Felix Hernandez, but sending Beckett and Ellsbury instead. [http://bosoxinjection.com/2012/07/04/will-sox-pay-a-kings-ransom-for-felix-hernandez/]
Don’t buy all that “he’s not on the table” smoke up your skirt from the Seattle GM; they know they are at least 5 years away from contending for the post season playoffs. By then, The King will be at the down arc phase of his career; he will be 31 in 2017.
The Seattle management says that they plan to keep King Felix as an attendance draw; every 4-5 days they pack the place—not! The added tickets above average that Hernandez generates would barely cover The King’s meal allowance.
Seattle is simply using the old ploy: “It’s going to cost A WHOLE LOT to even make us consider trading [PLAYER NAME.]” Seattle knows that a competitive team is the only way to draw enough fans to balance the books.
Maybe they take Beckett AND Lester and we keep Ellsbury?
More likely they want Lester and Ellsbury; too frickin’ bad!
Probably they take Beckett to get Ellsbury and the Sox eat ½ of Beckett’s contract and maybe toss in a prospect or two. [Kolbrin Vitek and Garin Cecchini [3B] Blocked by Middlebrooks; Jose Iglesias [SS], better option, Deven Marerro; Blake Swihart [C] blocked by Salty, Lavarnway, and no sure thing to stay at C.]
Of course, it is giving up the very-talented Ellsbury, who will be a FA and ready to cash in, and yes, John Henry will whine about the money. [BTW, John, you are off the Lackey contract hook [$15,250,000 million] after 2014; that would be a good start toward the $23 to $25 million that Hernandez would want in the first year of his Red Sox contract.}
But the “beauty part”—putting Beckett and the Sox out of their misery without resorting to a fire arm– is well worth it.
Imagine this rotation:
Now, imagine owning a part of that new team…
NEXT UP: Fan Plan to take the Sox back.
Thus, we will use a series format with 6 posts:
1-4 will point the finger at the…
 Owner [http://bosoxinjection.com/2012/08/06/taking-the-red-sox-away-from-these-failures-pt-1-blame-the-owner/]
 CEO [http://bosoxinjection.com/2012/08/07/taking-the-red-sox-away-from-these-failures-pt-2-blame-the-ceo/
[5 ] will blame a few players and suggest “deep drill” surgery for the patient. [think trades and prospects]
 will offer a plan to take the team back [think Green Bay Packers]
* Dick Howser also managed a full season in 1980, leading the team to the playoffs, but was fired after the Yankees failed to advance to the World Series. Howser has the highest career winning percentage among all Yankee managers at .632.
Houston Astros Fire Phil Garner
The Houston Astros fired manager Phil Garner yesterday. With the team 58-73 and a full 10 games out of first place in the very weak National League Central Division, Astros’ owner Drayton McLane said the squad “needed a fresh start.”
Garner, who took over the Astros in the middle of the 2004 season and led them to the 2005 National League pennant, was rather gracious under the circumstances.
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