By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Barring an effort to reel in an established “star” executive such as Epstein, Billy Beane, Jeff Luhnow, or Andrew Friedman, the Red Sox seem likely to seek a more collaborative model between ownership and their next head of baseball operations. … Their need for more long-range thinking suggests an area where ownership-level input is likely to increase.
- Alex Speier in today’s Boston Globe
So I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m worried about this.
Look, I get it: the owner signs the checks. It’s his team. He can do whatever he wants. But there’s a reason just about every owner short of Dallas Cowboys megalomaniac Jerry Jones hires an experienced general manager to handle personnel decisions – and there’s a reason the Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Jimmy Johnson built their last championship roster. Sports people make sports decisions. Owners hire them to do so.
Today, the Red Sox find themselves in the unfortunate position of having significant needs while also possessing very little payroll flexibility and a decrepit farm system. It’s not an easy job. And the idea that Red Sox owners want “a more collaborative model between ownership and their next head of baseball operations” scares the bejeezus out of me for obvious reasons: the more people involved, the greater the chance of dysfunction. And the greater the chance of dysfunction, the greater the chance for ineptitude.
Let’s make something clear here: I don’t disagree with what the Red Sox seem to want in this instance. Given what deposed president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski did to the Red Sox minor league system, Henry has every right to emphasize a “need for more long-range thinking.” Over the last few years, the Red Sox have sometimes felt like someone intent on spending all his money before ending it all in a blaze of glory.
Which is why Henry needs to find someone who has the right philosophy, then step out of the way and let him (or her) do the job.
In the interest of fairness, let’s note here that Speier suggests the Red Sox want a collaborator “barring an effort to reel in an established star executive such as [Theo] Epstein.” They should really want one regardless. If their next GM is relatively inexperienced, then the Red Sox should hire him a veteran right-hand man – as they did with Epstein the first time, when Bill Lajoie flanked the young GM. What the Red Sox need to do here is to build an organizational framework with lasting power because what they’re doing now is playing musical chairs.
Seriously. In the last eight years, the Red Sox will have gone from Epstein to Ben Cherington to Dombrowski to Mr. X. Meanwhile, many of their competitors have remained constant. During that same period, the Red Sox have won two World Series and suffered three last-place finishes while also enduring two of the most disappointing third-place finishes in club history. In 2011, they historically collapsed. This year, they might as well have.
Given the transience in their front office, is it any wonder?
Now, say what you will about the Epstein Era from 2003-2011, but this much we generally agree on: Theo had a philosophy. He generally believed in building from the inside out. Sometimes he fell off the track - or got pulled off - but he usually got back on. No one ever said balancing prospects with a big budget was an easy task.
In the end, no matter how this season has ended, the Red Sox remain one of the true signature franchises in baseball, right there with the Yankees, Cubs, Giants, Dodgers and Cardinals. They deserve a big-name GM with big-time power, and they should have the money and prospects to do everything they want to do. Right now, they have none of that.
The sooner they put it all in place, the better off they will be.
And for the longest period of time possible.