|Red Sox Problems Run Deep||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on August 21, 2012
Clearly Theo Epstein saw the writing on the wall when he decided to get out of Boston. Just five years removed from a World Championship the atmosphere in the Red Sox clubhouse, not to mention the front office, has been getting more and more toxic.
With all of the talent the Red Sox have, it’s hard to understand how this team can’t seem to play quality baseball. Despite all the dugout grumblings it’s not Bobby Valentine’s fault that the Red Sox more or less stink.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
This all started last season, pre-Valentine, when the September swoon of the Red Sox went down in the annals of the worst collapses ever by a major league organization. Valentine was brought in to try to reignite passion and help this organization find a working chemistry once again.
Trying to make the on-field talent turn into a cohesive unit and strive for excellence has mostly been an abject failure. Instead of Valentine serving as a catalyst who engendered excellence, the only cohesion he’s inspired has been among the faction of players who’ve decided they dislike Valentine and his methods and want a managerial change.
The front office probably thought the purging of Kevin Youkilis and the perceived lackadaisical attitude that Valentine chided him for would help straighten out the remaining regulars, but the on-field failure has belied that thought. Instead the Boston headliners seem to be making headlines of the wrong sort -- in the Jersey Shore kind of way.
Part of that of course is mere smoke and illusion. Issues like John Lackey, who has failed to pitch a single inning, walking through the clubhouse double fisting with his beers aren’t relevant to the on-field struggles of this team. But they make the kind of white noise that obscures the real truth. Some of these guys have lost it, some have stopped caring, and some are just there for the checks.
It’s certainly left fans longing for the “Idiots” of 2004 who at least always seem to have fun and came together as a team with each member seeming to positively inspire the players around them and providing great entertainment value to the fans.
Right now all you see are the negatives. Be it the badly out of shape Josh Beckett, who instead of coming into camp ready to redeem himself for last year, came back still carrying all those extra pounds, or the team meeting where several players apparently vehemently complained to management that they didn’t want to play for Bobby V.
It’s a shame. There still is a lot of talent on this team, but if any of it can be salvaged, or if the Red Sox need to totally rebuild is a valid talking point. But clearly at least some rebuilding, at least within the starting pitching ranks, needs to be done and soon.
The starting staff is the most obvious culprit in the Red Sox collapse. Failure to perform on field, excuses, bad attitude and stories like the beer and fried chicken episodes of last season, not to mention their clubhouse attitude, has hurt the organizational prestige and turned the BoSox into laughingstocks.
The front office could do the wrong thing and sack the manager, but that would be the easy thing to do instead of acknowledging that the problems run far deeper. Letting a clique of players persuade upper management to push Bobby V out would be sending the wrong message. As Boston owner John Henry pointed out it would be letting the “inmates run the asylum.”
At the least the Red Sox need is a better class of inmates. But maybe we should question if the problems come from higher up too. Maybe there was a reason Theo Epstein wanted to get out of Boston.