Saturday, August 19, 2006

Black Friday

Not only did the Red Sox get pasted, twice, by the Yankees, but today I lost something a lot more than my hope for playoff games in October. I lost my faith in the Red Sox front office. It's not that I wish they had kept Pedro and Lowe and Cabrera and Damon... I understand why they let them walk. It's not even the way they spent the Pedro money (Renteria and Clement), or the way they went about building the 2006 team, although that bothers me.

Granted, when you have a GM for a few weeks, and then no GM for a month, and then co-GM's for a few months, and then your original GM comes back and you still don't have a shortstop or a center fielder, it's kinda hard to put together a cohesive plan for a season. But even given all of that, the team was incredibly ill-prepared for this weekend's series with the Yankees.

On the off-day before the series began, Boston traded for Eric Hinske. It was a good move - they needed a lefty bat and an back-up at the infield corners - but to make room for him, someone had to go. That someone had to be one of the 13 pitchers on the roster, and it was almost a slam dunk that Manny Delcarmen would either be sent down to AAA or disabled, or that Rudy Seanez would be given the long-overdue heave-ho.

So what ended up happening? Craig Breslow, the only lefty in the bullpen, and a guy who had pitched well in limited major league opportunities this season, was sent down. I need to repeat: he was the only lefty. And they were about to face Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon and Robinson Cano five times in four days. It was a move that made zero sense at the time and now, after watching the pitching staff give up 26 runs in 18 innings, it makes even less sense.

Now, Francona made some bad decisions on Friday, from pulling starters to which relievers to use (and when) to pinch-hitting match-ups. But I have to give him some kind of benefit of the doubt here - this roster has been woefully mismanaged for going on a month now, and there's really no excuse for that.

If you want to take a step back and get the kids some time this year, fine. If you can't make a move at the trade deadline because the asking price is too high, that's okay too. But you can't go into an enormous weekend series like this one, only a game and a half out of first, with a completely dysfunctional roster like the one the Sox have now. Beyond any trade or contract or draft pick or walk-out, this 25-man abomination is the single most damning indictment of Theo Epstein's performance this year. I like Theo, and I'm usually a borderline apologist for him, but this is inexcusable.

I sat in Fenway Park tonight and saw history: the longest nine-inning game ever in the major leagues. And I left feeling like I had been punched in the stomach. And for that, for the first time, I blame Theo Epstein.

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