Sunday, September 25, 2011
Success Has Led to Complacency in Red Sox
The Red Sox started and ended the 2011 season very disappointingly.
The 2010 Red Sox won 89 games, marking the first time in four years that the team failed to win at least 95 games.
The organization has set a goal of 95 wins each season in order to be playoff contenders in the highly competitive AL East.
Bear in mind, even with that goal, the Red Sox have won just one AL East title in 16 years.
This year's Red Sox club has just 88 wins, with five games yet to be played. Even if the Sox were to run the table, they would once again fail to win 95 games this season.
Only twice in the previous eight years have the Sox failed to win at least 95 games.
Much more was expected. After all, this is a club with the highest payroll in team history.
The highly disappointing 2011 season only leads to genuine questions about this team's heart, its desire and its hunger.
The Red Sox seemed to think that a 100-win season and a World Series Championship were their destiny. Perhaps they thought they deserved those things, and that they'd win simply by showing up and taking the field.
This year, the Red Sox often made winning look easy. Until their September swoon, the only adversity the Sox had faced was the April stretch in which they went 0-6 and 2-10 to start the season.
But this month, when the going got tough, the Sox just collapsed. Instead of fighting, they ran away and went into hiding.
You could call it apathy. But I say it's even worse.
This is a weak team with no character and no heart. There are some players on this squad who seem more concerned with their own stats and their next contracts than with winning ball games.
If the Red Sox continue this epic unravelling in the coming days, significant changes are in order.
It matters not whether this club makes the playoffs. They will almost certainly be bounced in the first round. Should they even get there, who would truly be surprised if the Sox were swept in the ALDS?
This is not what John Henry and Tom Werner thought they were paying for. This team was stacked from day one and built to win. This season can only be viewed as an epic failure.
The front office let manager Terry Francona enter this season unsigned beyond 2011. Even when the Sox looked like the best team in baseball for much of the season, Theo Epstein and Co. were unwilling to offer Francona an extension.
The Red Sox hold options for future years, yet have given no indication that they want Francona back next year or beyond.
Maybe the Red Sox were withholding the extension as a motivational tool. One way or the other, Francona's future with the Red Sox is suddenly in question and his job may be on the line.
Personally, I think Epstein is far more to blame for this team's under-performance, due to all of his horrible signings. He gave Francona a team of overpaid, underachievers and expected him to win with them.
To follow is a list of the Red Sox highly expensive busts in 2011:
John Lackey $15.25M
Carl Crawford $14M
JD Drew $14M
Mike Cameron $7.25M
Bobby Jenks $6M
The Sox got nothing, or next to nothing, from each of the above players.
Apparently, the whopping sum of $66.5 million doesn't buy what it used to.
That figure is equal to the entire payroll of the A's and more than the payrolls of the Nationals ($63.8M), Jays ($62.5M), Marlins ($56.9M), Diamondbacks ($53.6M), Indians ($49.1M), Padres ($45.8M), Pirates ($45M), Rays ($41M) and Royals ($36.1M).
Think about that; the Red Sox paid $66.5 million to just six under-achieving players, and it is more than the entire 25-man rosters of nine Major League teams.
Count me among those who are actually hoping this Red Sox team ultimately loses. They simply don't deserve a playoff spot. And what Red Sox fan actually wants to see this team continue to get embarrassed, as they have been all month long?
Failure is the first, necessary step in restoring desire, passion and accountability. It has to be an organic process. Bring it on.
Ultimately, the Red Sox now expect to win every year, which has led to complacency. That is a recipe for failure and let down.
This is not what the ownership is paying for. This is is not what the fans are paying for.
Everyone expects more, including the players.
The difference is, the players actually have to go out and earn it on the field.