JEFF NOWAK — Editor-in-Chief
We all should have seen this coming.
The Red Sox blew the largest lead ever over the last month of a season and the inadequacies, glaring holes and downright dysfunctionality of the second-most expensive team in sports has come to the forefront.
The silver lining from the collapse of their nine-game lead is that these issues were exposed and can now be remedied.
The first step: Terry Francona is finally out as manager.
This move surprised many, but when looking past the exterior success of a good team with good players, the truth about Francona is obvious.
He was a product of his environment.
This is not to take away from 2004-2007, in which he won two World Series in three years. He also managed the Red Sox to a Game 7 loss to the Rays in the 2008 ALCS.
But after that point, the clubhouse was lost. It may have even been lost when Manny Ramirez went crazy in 2008, but that was nothing new and largely dismissed. Come 2010, Francona no longer had a grip on his team, and his tenure as manager might as well have ended.
He would have lost his job after 2010, but the injury bug granted him a reprieve.
Then Red Sox management, spearheaded by Theo Epstein, decided to embark from the philosophies that had made Boston one of the two multi-World Series winners in the last decade and become the big, bullying spenders.
Rather than face the obvious issue of a fractured clubhouse, a disinterested manager and a lack of motivation, the checkbook was taken out and a disgusting display of riches ensued.
Carl Crawford was pried away from the Angels, possibly late-hitting revenge from 2009, and was given a seven-year, $142 million contract, the second-largest annual deal for any outfielder in the history of baseball. (Manny Ramirez’s contract from the Dodgers in 2009 was the largest).
Billy Beane likely had nightmares for weeks.
They then traded for Adrian Gonzalez, giving him a seven-year, $154 million-contract.
Not a single player received a contract of seven years or more since John Henry and Tom Werner purchased the Red Sox in 2002, a fact that said more about the Red Sox than their payroll.
These were conscious choices made in order to maintain integrity and play within the confines of reasonability—it won them two World Series.
In 2011, the team chose to plaster these holes with dollar bills.
There was dirt on the proverbial floor of the Boston Red Sox. Rather than sweep it up and deal with the clearly visible issues, they took a mop and tried to shine the floor.
While it might have looked nice at first, all they left was mud in the corner.
Expensive, dysfunctional mud.