Monday, December 12, 2005

Who Run Bartertown?

John Henry Lays Down the Law

So remember a few weeks ago, when Theo Epstein up and quit from the Red Sox, citing the baseball equivalent of “artistic differences?” Remember how the rumor was that Theo’s departure was a part of a deep-seated dissatisfaction with the way Larry Lucchino handled the running of the Red Sox and his relationship with his former protégé? Remember how John Henry cried like a little girl at the press conference and questioned his ability to own the team? Well, what if Henry actually did something besides lament the departure of the boy wonder – something like blocking the hiring of an outside GM, keeping Theo around behind the scenes for the past six weeks to help “move the transition along,” or forcing the restructuring of the Sox front office that Lucchino keeps talking about? What if 2006 will start with the same players in the front office as 2005…only with different titles?

Why the what-ifs, 6 weeks after the fact? Well, as of 3:30 this afternoon, Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington are the co-GMs of the Red Sox…and while Lucchino won’t come out and say it, Theo may be coming back in an advisory role (or as some might call it, President of Baseball Operations), in basically the same capacity that he had when he was GM, while Hoyer and Cherington will be the equivalent of assistant GMs. As Eric Wilbur points out, it sound a lot like John Henry forced the changes behind the scenes as a way to keep Epstein but keep Lucchino from losing face – rearranging the furniture, as the Herald put it, to make sure everyone is happy, however dysfunctional the result. The new setup sounds so complicated that I’d probably shoot myself in the face if it happened to me. I wonder what Theo thinks of the departure of most of his acquisitions over the past two weeks?

But in a piece of pure speculative fantasy by Wilbur, it gets even better. What if all of this post-season tomfoolery was really a public relations stunt by everyone’s favorite Boston baseball bad guy, Dr. Charles Steinberg, to keep the Sox on the front of everyone’s mind until February? Screw the usual hot stove fun…let’s make all of RSN think their favorite team has more issues than FEMA post-Katrina. It’s like baseball reality TV.

In other news, Boston’s most recent shortstop is a big wuss. Speaking for the first time since the trade, Edgar Renteria says he actually wanted out of Boston. Not because of the fans, or because of the pressure…but because of the infield in Fenway. “The ball bounces too much in the field of the shortstop, where I play,” he said. “The field is not good like other stadiums. One day it’s bad, the next day, it’s worse...I was uncomfortable the whole year.” As Robin pointed out, half of those errors were made in other parks…and somehow it’s the former Gold Glover who’s making the mistakes, when other Red Sox shortstops of recent memory haven’t had nearly as many problems. Nice try, Edgah. Anyone else now wishing we still had Cabrera out there?