When Ben Cherington took the reigns as the Boston Red Sox GM – well sort of (Larry Lucchino, cough, cough) – he inherited a bloated payroll inflicted on the team by Theo Epstein and suffered a meddling President and CEO in Lucchino. Carl Crawford was in the fold and the fix was in for Adrian Gonzalez to name just two of the poster children of excess and largess. Boston’s orgiastic spending had perverted the mission and seriously damaged team unity.
The formula for success that had garnered the Sox two World Championships in 2004 and 2007 had become undone by early 2010. Fans grew disgruntled then incredulous and, finally, became prime candidates for anger management group therapy. Things had to change. This year Cherington is ensuring just that. How has Red Sox Nation and the media reacted? Frankly, like children who knew that eating too much Christmas candy was making them sick but who are now rebelling long and loud once honey whole wheat crackers have been swapped out.
Get off Cherington’s back. This is what you begged for; to rid the team of fat contracts by underperforming once stars. You wanted to get back to the basic building blocks of true team play. Now your wish is coming true and you want to take it all back? Better think it through next time. I for one haven’t had near enough crackers yet. Bring it Ben!
Think about it. In one master stroke Cherington started to chart a new course last August when he successfully and improbably dumped over $260 million in payroll on the Dodgers after it had become apparent that Boston was going nowhere and that the clubhouse had become cancerous.
Since coming in dead last in the AL East Cherington has signed a solid back up catcher (David Ross), acquired two outfielders (Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes), possibly bagged a first baseman and sometimes catcher (Mike Napoli, whose status is still in limbo) and picked up a durable reliever with decent stats (Koji Uehara) and starter (Ryan Dempster) who promise with certainty to lay a more solid foundation than Boston’s previous house of cards. If they acquire Nick Swisher they will have plugged a number of holes that will afford them flexibility in potential future trades, lineup moves and payroll. It’s a trifecta. Enjoy this.
Cherington pulled all this off for $124.95 million total for all the contracts, just $51 million per year. None of the contracts are longer than three years so the exposure to massive downside is reduced. These deals are the mark of a shrewd shopper, not a bumpkin who is being taken and doesn’t want to win.
Ben wants to win but he’s willing to delay gratification. Follow suit kids. Better days are coming – just not tomorrow. Besides, the Angels have successfully wrested the freewheeling, over-spender mantle from the Sox, recently signing Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal. Good luck with that.
So after all the high-rolling, Yankee payroll chasing failure and it’s accompanying arrogance and ego, the Old Towne Team has been cut down to size and is trying to turn it around. Cherington’s measured, conservative approach is essentially what you asked for. Boston will be better this year, especially after more arms are acquired. Quit yer bithcin’, pull up your big boy and big girl pants and recognize this for what it is; a brick by brick rebuilding effort.
Ben, the trowel and mortar remain in your hands. Go forth and do good.
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.
- Another Brick In The Wall, Pink Floyd