The Boston Red Sox made a terrible mistake by overreacting in 2012 and replacing manager Terry Francona with Bobby Valentine. That desire to shake up the status quo resulted in the hiring of Bobby Valentine as manager. The Red Sox finished 69-93 and the collapse resulted in a complete shake-up of the roster as they erased many mistakes by trading away recent marquee acquisitions first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, and also veteran pitcher Josh Beckett late in the season to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Red Sox rebounded under new skipper John Farrell with a shocking World Series victory in 2013 before crashing back to earth in 2014 with a 71-91 record. The Red Sox again embarked on a house-cleaning as starting pitchers Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, and John Lackey and others were all shipped out during the season for prospects and other young players as Boston dramatically revamped their roster and created flexibility for the offseason for the second time in three seasons.
The question now is whether the Red Sox should continue to follow their 2013 blueprint and turn over the leadership at the manager position.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon this week exercised an option to leave Tampa Bay and escape to a team more willing to spend on players and on Maddon. While the Chicago Cubs are expected to be the favorites to land Maddon, the Red Sox are fools not to explore the opportunity.
When Manny Ramirez was on the free agent market the Red Sox did not ignore him due to having Will Cordeiro and Reggie Jefferson on the roster.
Maddon is an innovator and one of the highest touted managers in the game. If the Red Sox lose 90 games next season, would Farrell keep his job? How about if the Red Sox fail to make the playoffs again?
The Red Sox fan base has been force fed the front office’s line of not being interested in Maddon, but the big question is WHY?
What is the reason that the Red Sox would not upgrade at manager? They are actively upgrading the starting rotation, the bullpen, and the lineup, so why not the manager? Sure, Farrell won a championship in Boston, but before 2013 his track record was far from stellar. Last season was a disaster and should force the front office to re-evaluate their decision with a superior option suddenly and unexpectedly available to them.
Maddon has done a fantastic job with a small market team in Tampa Bay after cutting his teeth in Anaheim under respected manager Mike Scioscia. Maddon was a finalist in Boston when then general manager Theo Epstein chose Terry Francona to lead the Red Sox. Maddon is not simply an innovator in the dugout, but his personality in infectious and could revitalize a clubhouse that was dour and uninspired last year.
Farrell came to Boston with a reputation as a great handler of pitching. His years as pitching coach under Francona endeared him to the front office but his time in Toronto was uninspiring. For all his acumen with the pitching staff, the Red Sox had three starting pitchers help carry their squads to the postseason. But it was with their new teams as Peavy (starting game six of the World Series for San Francisco), Lester (pitching Oakland into the Wild Card before running out of gas), and Lackey helping St. Louis reach the NLCS). For Boston, having a pitching guru does them no good when their best pitchers are performing for other teams.
The Red Sox have succeeded by being able to push the envelope and not to settle for second best on the field continually looking to upgrade at every position. Shouldn’t that apply in the dugout as well?