Yes, the Boston Red Sox are cursed again…cursed with a great, proactive front office.
Coming into spring training, the organization was eager to put a woeful 2012 season behind them. Team president Larry Lucchino’s biggest goal was to restore some order inside the locker room, as the front office was embarrassed again by a lackluster performance from a high-priced roster that wasn’t inspired by their volatile manager, Bobby Valentine.
His hiring seemed to be the logical choice if you wanted to bring discipline back to Boston. No one expected Bobby V to alienate everyone that was associated with the Red Sox organization by season’s end. This left no choice for the front office but to cut their losses and fire him ASAP. Good businessmen react quickly to disappointing results, especially if you expect an immediate return on your investment. There’s no room for the timid when operating a big market franchise.
General manager Ben Cherington began the over-haul of the Red Sox’s roster with a waiver trade last August that removed a financial albatross from their neck, as the Los Angeles Dodgers took $250 million of guaranteed contracts (first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford and pitcher Josh Beckett) off their hands.
This trade allowed the Red Sox to become more active in the free agent market, Cherington stayed away from star names like outfielder Josh Hamilton and pitcher Zach Grienke, and instead sought players who could excel under the spotlight of playing for a major-market franchise. The highlight acquisition has been Mike Napoli, who’s provided clutch hits all season long.
Next, Cherington sought the services of a manager he originally wanted to hire after replacing Theo Epstein in 2011. He acquired John Farrell from the Toronto Blue Jays via a trade to help rebuild the team’s pathetic pitching staff. Farrell has brought emotion and intensity back to the mound this season, even-though fans still have questions about the overall pitching depth within the organization.
The biggest reason for his hire is to fix the pitching mechanics of the team’s two aces, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholtz, as getting them back on track could be the single most important player move made by the Red Sox this season. Farrell understands the importance of having two studs atop your starting rotation. Serviceable starting pitchers will keep you in contention, but they will not win you a divisional title. Dominant pitching has been the biggest reason for the Sox renaissance this year.
It’s not too early to say the Red Sox are over their nightmarish season from a year ago, but it’s too soon to proclaim them a World Series contender. The batting lineup has provided solid production all throughout the order and this has helped them return to form in the AL East. Cherington has built a roster that has a strong core of players who can easily regain the swagger of past Sox teams from a decade ago.
The erosion of the Red Sox franchise is greatly exaggerated, so the fans of Boston can keep wearing those baseball hats as they try to take the season.