Ben Cherington-Return to Basics


We, as loyal, obedient citizens of the Red Sox Nation, have been bewildered by the front office’s lack of activity in acquiring new talent, especially after the disastrous and humiliating close to last season.  The pitching was atrocious equaled, apparently, only by the deflation of the attitude in the club house. One of the Fan Favorites, Jonathan Papelbon, without any whining or bargaining at all, left the Red Sox as soon as he could.  Our management did not seem to disturbed. It did say they never had a chance to make him an offer before he left, but he had been with the club for several years. One would assume that if management wanted him, they would have made serious inroads prior to the end of the season.

John Thomas of the Boston Herald, in an article today, explored the “new” methodology of trades, etc under Ben Cherington, the new GM. When the Divine Theo came into the picture 10 years ago, he didn’t spend big money on flashy talent. He looked for bargains and the under appreciated e.g. David Ortiz, Kevin Millar and others who were charter members of the Johnny Damon‘s beloved idiots. After analysis, Theo cobbled together a team that put the curse of the Bambino to rest. No big trades or free agent deals; just relying on the farm system and the bottoms of barrels for new talent.  We also had a manage, Terry Francona whose quiet dignity, nurtured the newcomers and brought out the best. You will recall that in the 2004 Series, there were no “stars” who carried the day. They all did; and with a vigor and spirit that would shame a high school cheer leading squad.

Another example Theo’s genius was to trade for Josh Becket in 2005 at the Marlins’ annual fire sale, and in order to round out the deal, the Red Sox had to unexpectedly acquire Mike Lowell. Lowell, as we all know, became an extremely important part of the organization, culminating in his being named MVP of the 2007  World Series.

Then, over time, Theo started spending money and got some big names; and boy did he pick some expensive losers.  It wasn’t the price he paid, it was who he picked in the first place. John Lackey, Carl Crawford, Mike Cameron,  Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler.  These were all past their prime or infirm, with the exception of Crawford. There are those that think Crawford may turn out to be worth the 142 million dollar contract, but only time will tell. To put in other terms, right now Theo has obligated the Red Sox to over a quarter of a billion dollars of nonperforming non talent, that should have been obvious before they were signed up originally. Theo forgot how he built the team in the first place or got in a hurry, because, acting like he had an unlimited budget (which in fact he almost did), he spurned the farm system and spent major bucks, in part, for the aforesaid disappointments. As the country folks say, he got above his raisings.

Cherington has dialed the spending back and making for informed rational decisions about potential talent. Melancon was a good deal. The Yankees drafted him as a potential replacement for the unhittable Mariano Rivera.

This not a quick or painless transition. The Red Sox Nation is not a patient nation. Long before the computer age, its citizens have demanded immediate gratification; in the alternative, if they don’t get what they want, they get loud.  An example is a post today by Tom Harrington, a contributing editor for Yahoo Sports, Boston GM Needs To Wake Up and Make Moves. He grouses about inactivity of management, which I have done myself. My grousing has been tempered by recent team acquisitions. Mr. Harrington, however, is among the citizenry of the Nation that is not satisfied with the pace of acquisitions. He complains about the free agents, very expensive free agents, that signed elsewhere, the loss of Papelbon without a comparable replacement and dismisses Melancon as a light weight.

This is not a good time to be a popular GM with the Red Sox.  The pace is either too slow, or player choices are objectionable and/or the purse strings are two tight. Cherington, I am sure, has become inured to the barbs of angry fans. It is impossible to please everyone. This is Boston, remember. These folks know baseball. He has taken a very positive step forward with his recent acquisitions; let’s give him a little time to put the pieces together.  Ryan Madson and Andrew Bailey are still out there. We have talent that can be traded, and if it comes to that, there is a bunch of money, luxury tax be damned.  So, Red Sox Nation. Chill. It’s still a long way to the beginning of the next season.

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