It’s time for the Red Sox to deliver. John Henry likely said as much, when, on Tuesday, he met with General Manager Ben Cherington, Manager John Farrell and the entire Front Office in search of solutions to another disappointing start.
Indeed, this lack of results is in danger of becoming a recurring theme of Cherington’s tenure. Aside from 2013, when the Sox caught lightning in a bottle and rode a crest of immense civic emotion to a sublime championship, the Olde Towne Team has been fairly mediocre throughout his premiership. In fact, since Cherington was promoted to General Manager before the 2012 season, Boston is just 250-263, despite spending more than $659 million in payroll. Needless to say, that represents by far the worst cost-per-win ratio of any GM presently working in the Major Leagues.
In three full seasons as head of the Fenway think-tank, Cherington has delivered just one admittedly glorious postseason berth, sandwiched between last place finishes where the team finished 25 and 26 games behind the division winner, respectively. A poor start this season, with the Sox under .500 at the time of writing, has many people wondering whether 2013 was truly an aberration and the continued flirtation with cellar-dweller status is a more accurate representation of Cherington’s skills.
I don’t mean to lead an anti-Cherington crusade. Far from it. I actually like the man, and think he has all the attributes to be a sharp and perceptive, big-market GM. But, at this point, I’m more than a little worried about the core philosophy which lies at the bedrock of Boston baseball. Just who are the Red Sox anymore, and where are they headed?
The failure to pay Jon Lester, coupled with a thorough negligence of elite starting pitching, has led to discomfort in Red Sox Nation. That discomfort turned to disquiet last week, as the Sox dipped below .500 and sunk to the bottom of a weak AL East. It’s incredibly frustrating, because, in my opinion, there is a major opportunity to contend right now, but the Red Sox don’t seem ready, or able, to take advantage.
We hear so much about the starting rotation, but, oftentimes, the severity of the situation doesn’t become apparent until you stop and actually contemplate what is happening. Why does the Front Office persist with Clay Buchholz, let alone consider him an ace? Why do we accept Wade Miley and Joe Kelly as anything other than back-of-the-rotation starters? Why are we messing around here? This is Boston, not Minnesota. The Red Sox fans who so loyally fill Fenway Park deserve so much better.
It’s not that ownership isn’t spending money, because it is. Rather, the way it is spending, with an unbalanced investment in offense at the obvious detriment of pitching, is hard to understand. Right now, I think people are becoming fatigued by the way this $173 million team needs to make such a high-stakes drama out of grinding each and every win. Nothing is coming easy, because the team is lopsided and askew in its fundamental makeup.
Thus, following a strange few years and another disappointing start, we’re reaching a critical juncture for Red Sox management and the team it constructs. It’s time this ball club showed it’s true face. It’s time to begin setting high standards again. It’s time to deliver, plain and simple.