When a team has the largest collapse of all time during the month of September, there is plenty of blame to go around. Terry Francona, former Boston Red Sox manager, received the brunt of it recently after his meeting with the team’s hierarchy. The franchise decided not to pick up Francona’s option for next season.
Theo Epstein is widely viewed as a baseball mastermind. With Brad Pitt playing another baseball executive in Moneyball, it’s a stretch to put Epstein into the same category. Many of his signings haven’t produced the forecasted results. There have been rumors of him heading to Chicago to work with the Cubs, but it’s difficult to fathom his departure unless he is forced out. The only thing that the Windy City brings to the table is a bigger challenge and the headaches that accompany it.
The players are the primary reason for the success or failure during any baseball season. John Lackey had the highest earned run average of any starting pitcher in the league this year. It’s a testament to the Red Sox offensive line-up that he didn’t finish with a losing record. I don’t pretend to know all of the details, but tmz.com certainly made him look like a creep for filing divorce papers on a cancer-stricken spouse.
Carl Crawford was brought over from Tampa Bay as one of the two major acquisitions for Boston. He finished the season with under a .300 on base percentage and drove in just a fraction over fifty runs. His eighteen stolen bases were a major disappointment for Red Sox nation. It’s hard to wrap your head around a signing of a blockbuster deal for a player whose main weapon is speed, but is on the verge of entering the twilight of his career.
J.D. Drew has been a constant disappointment for every team that he has signed with. His reputation as a high maintenance teammate started the moment when he was drafted. The contentious negotiations became about more than business. The personal nature of the process should have been a harbinger of a lackluster career. Once again, he has played in a fraction of the games for his team with limited offensive production.
One thing that usually separates large market clubs from their counterparts is the quality of the bullpen. It is certainly an important category that is often ignored by the casual fan, but it doesn’t take away from the prominence of the starting rotation. Clay Buchholz only made thirteen starts for Boston this season. His win-loss ratio of two to one is fantastic, but the innings and starts were much below Francona’s expectations. He is in the prime of his career and was expected to be a workhorse. This void was a major blow to the organization.
Terry Francona won’t be unemployed for long. The South Side of Chicago would be an excellent option for him. His legendary rapport with players could be just what the doctor ordered to turn Adam Dunn and the White Sox around. There is nowhere to go but up from last year for both men.