Saturday, January 28, 2012

Off-season Fenway Follies

The Patriots are a week from playing in their fifth Super Bowl in the past ten years.  The Bruins go into the All-Star Weekend as #2 in the conference as they defend their Stanley Cup crown.  The Celtics...well, at least they've won four straight games.  Where is the Red Sox excitement? The anticipation of Spring Training being less than a month away?  Well, talk of fiscal responsibility, luxury tax concerns, and endless replays of Liverpool FC matches on NESN (disclaimer: Everton fan here at BostonSportPage.com and Liverpool represent the 76ers to my Celtics, the Yankees to my Red Sox, and the Canadians to my Bruins; I am NOT amused by John Henry buying Liverpool FC and stuffing them down the craw of all NESN viewers.) hardly inspires confidence.  So, with a bit of a lull in the sports euphoria (at least until the Patriots land in Indianapolis and the media beings their non-stop 24-7 coverage of Super Bowl week) the time seems ripe to review some of my off-season gripes regarding the denizens of Yawkey Way.



  • Historic September Collapse: 
    • Um, I'm not quite ready to face these emotions again. It's only been four months...
  • Beer and Chicken Wings:
    • A snack I enjoy immensely, but is certainly not appropriate for the pitching staff in the middle of a game.  The fact that Josh Beckett, et al had the audacity to disrespect a manager who went out of his way to protect them from the ravenous Boston media and took the heat for them again and again is beyond shocking.  The fact that other than paying John Lackey a boat-load of cash to rehab during the season there was no shake-up of the starting rotation shows the front-office/ownership dysfunction in Boston.  The problem is not the manager, the problem is the players and who ultimately brought them to town. For the record, Theo Epstein was not employed by the Red Sox when Josh Beckett came to town, and I am sure that under the influence of  Sodium Thiopental, better known as Sodium Pentothal, will tell anyone that he had NOTHING to do with bringing in Carl Crawford or John Lackey.  Those moves have Larry Lucchino's fingerprints all over them. 
  • Losing General Manager Theo Epstein:
    • This one hurt. No one did more to keep this team competitive with savvy free agent signings (HIS signings, not OWNERSHIP'S signings...big difference there), decent trades, and excellent amateur drafting.  Theo was simply the Red Sox best defense against the Yankees.  No matter what they did in New York, Theo Epstein took the body blow and came back with a counter-punch.  He had a plan. He believed in the plan.  The plan worked.  Losing him hurts more than anyone will realize for a few years.  Mark my words, this was not a good move to let him leave/push him out (I know we do not have, nor will have anytime soon, the real story there).
  • Firing Terry Francona: 
    • I understand that after the above-mentioned event may have warranted drastic action. That said, are the Red Sox in a better situation than they were on August 31st? Terry Francona was a perfect fit in Boston.  Two World Series Championships? Whatever. Best Red Sox Manager Ever? Sure, but what have you done for us lately? Firing Francona made no sense then and makes no sense to me now.  Shake up the players rather than kowtowing to the players whims and giving them what they want: a fall guy. Oh yeah, don't even get me started about the slander campaign after Francona got axed with the leaks about pain medication issues. Pure slander. Typical Boston mudslinging. Disgraceful.
  • Hiring Bobby Valentine:
    • I understand the Larry Lucchino reasoning of bringing in Bobby V: the media will be spending all spring training  not talking about the Theo/Terry exodus, but rather gushing about how entertaining and exciting Bobby V will be. My first problem is that he is hardly what the team needs in this market.  Valentine is all about brand Bobby V. He is not going to go over the statistical analysis that the team pays out the whazoo to provide. He is not going to diffuse situations. No, Bobby V is going to put Bobby V in front of any TV camera he can find and make sure that everyone sees him.  Not what this team needs to succeed.  Second, he has been out of the game. He last managed in the majors in 2002. Lest anyone forget those Mets teams, but they (like the year before in 2001 as well) were a damned talented team that underachieved and finished .500.  Oh hooray, sign THAT manager up, please!  Finally, lest I forget, he is coming down from behind the microphone to manage.  Wow, that is a formula for success!  I just think of the Chicago White Sox in the 1986 hiring former Red Sox wild man Hawk Harrelson to be General Manager.  Showing why commentators announce the game and don't belong in charge, Harrelson fired Tony LaRussa (the late 80s Oakland A's weren't THAT great, d'oh!),  put Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk in left field, and traded a rookie named Bobby Bonilla to Pittsburgh for Jose "Ponce" DeLeon (epic fail!). Please tell me that Bobby V won't be THAT bad! 
  • Big free-agent signings this off-season re-tooling the team:
    • STILL WAITING!!!
  • Seriously, This team must have made SOME attempt to improve the team:
    • Let's review off-season activity:
      • Trade shortstop Jed Lowrie for a middle reliever quality pitcher (Mark Melancon).
      • Trade shortstop Marco Scutaro for a middle reliever quality pitcher (Clayton Mortensen). 
      • Sign outfielder Cody STINKING Ross. 
      • Trade to patch hole created by not coughing up the dough for their best relief pitcher since Dick Radatz to replace him with a relief pitcher not as good, aka trade for relief pitcher Andrew Bailey and get fourth outfielder deluxe Ryan Sweeney.  
      • Seriously, unless you count signing utility infielder Nick Punto or back-up catcher Kelly Shoppach, then there is nothing
    • So HOW EXACTLY are they improved?
      • Umm, I'm at a loss. 
        • Seriously.
          • Yup, Nick Freaking Punto. 
            • Seriously.
              • Oh yeah, and Carl Crawford had off-season surgery. 
                • It's gonna be a loooooong season!




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