Red Sox

Time for Larry Lucchino to go


Time for Larry Lucchino to go

Yesterday, we learned that Bobby Valentines job is safe.

For now.

That doesnt mean it will be safe next week, next month or by the time youre done reading this column, but as of right . . . NOW, hes here to stay. This according to Sox principal owner John Henry, who sent out an afternoon e-mail blast group name: Media Pals :) in which he expressed an assortment of actual human feelings about this tumultuous season.

On top of his manager, Henry touched on player perception (There has been no lack of effort from our players.), ownership interest (Tom, Larry and I seldom miss a telecast when on the road if we aren't there.) and personal maintenance (A few sprays of WD40 keep my circuits and hinges lubed all day!). But really, this was about Valentine, and on that note, Henry, our virtual angel from Internet heaven, made a lot of sense.

To blame Bobby Valentine for the Red Sox being .500 at this point in the season is simply wrong, he typed (or dictated).

And I agree.

In baseball, managers often get too much credit and too much blame for what happens on the field.

And I agree.

But an organization is much more than the field manager. We all share responsibility for the success and failure of the Boston Red Sox.

Aaaannd I agree, and disagree.

Its true that an organization is much more than the field manager. That the 2003 Sox came within five outs of the World Series with Grady Little pulling the strings provides us with a lifetime of proof. But the second part bothers me:

We all share responsibility for the success and failure of the Boston Red Sox.

Its a cute clich (as was just about everything else Henry said), but in this case its just not true. While its nice to pretend that the Sox are one big happy family that dishes out blame and eats up success in equal portions, history suggests otherwise. Its shown us over and over that while the Sox and this ownership group might win together, they lose in a million different pieces. And per usual, the one man who deserves most of the blame is the same one who consistently deflects it. Who is never held accountable. Who, after a season which saw an epic collapse (internally and on the field) the departure of a GM, the firing of a manager and nearly an entire medical staff, actually RECEIVED AN EXTENSION.

Im talking about Henrys under-handed right-hand man.

Of course, Im talking about Larry Lucchino.

Forget Valentine. Forget Josh Beckett. Forget every other aspect of this franchise that needs to be filtered out before the Sox can return to respectability.

Lucchino's the one who needs to go.

Whether or not his dismissal is realistic (i.e. the extension and Henrys undying devotion) doesnt change the reality: Lucchino's the head of this venomous, poop-projecting snake, and until hes removed, the Sox will stay where they are. Confused. In disarray. Cloaked in organizational mystery, as employees go about their business with one eye on the task at hand and another on the look out for an inevitable dagger between their shoulder blades.

Larry Lucchino runs the Red Sox, Henry said during last years guerrilla radio appearance with Felger and Mazz. And you know what? Hes running them into the ground. Hes made a mockery of a team that so many New Englanders loved so much. HE hired Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington. HE thought that placing these two alter egos atop the franchise flow chart would result in anything but turmoil. HEs the one who didnt have the foresight to recognize that keeping a bunch of Terry Franconas best coaching buddies in the dugout would only add to the difficulty and drama. HEs the one who, in the midst of an awful season that (combined with last September) has left Red Sox fans angrier and more jaded than they've been in nearly a decade, came out with this ridiculous letter to the fans.

I know we all joked and had a good time at the letter's expense, but more than anything that laughter was a coping mechanism. Just a little something to help us deal with how depressing this situation has become; how out of touch ownership has fallen with its real fans. And like with everything else, Lucchino is at the forefront of that issue. He's the source. He's the one making all these miserable decisions, yet his status is never in question.

Now it wouldn't be fair to drop this level of criticism on Lucchino without recognizing all the good he's done for this team. Obviously, his hand in the two titles, but also, the work he's done to preserve and restore Fenway Park. Likewise, while many of the marketing techniques he and his crew have implemented over the years have driven fans crazy, these tactics have also generated obscene amounts of money, and helped the Sox maintain one of the most expensive rosters in baseball. That doesn't mean the team has always used this money wisely, but it's consistently been there, and that has a lot to do with Larry Lucchino. For everything he's not, he is an unquestionably intelligent guy; he's a great businessman.

But what else can he do here?

How many more rings does he need to win?

How much friendlier can he make Fenway? How more beloved can America's already-most-beloved ball park become under his watch? How can he top this centennial celebration?

In terms of marketing, it's clear that his schtick doesn't work anymore. It was a great run; he should be annoyingly proud of everything he did and all the people he brainwashed. But it's over. People aren't buying it. Business has peaked and it's time to move on.

The Red Sox issues aren't a matter of marketing, public perception or historical preservation.

It's about baseball. That's all that's left, and it's the only way to bring the team out of their current funk. They need a clear, cohesive, fresh and innovative baseball strategy. No more power struggles. No more back-stabbing. No more internal chaos.

No more Larry Lucchino.

He needs to step down or step aside.

Right now, that's probably just a pipe dream, but if anything's going to change, that needs to become a reality.

Well, OK. It's about five minutes. Have the Sox fired Bobby V. yet?

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins


Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

He was dubbed "Closer B" by Red Sox manager John Farrell when acquired at the trade deadline last summer, now Addison Reed is "Closer B Gone" the Twins.

The right-handed reliever, 29, has agreed to a two-year, $16.75 million free-agent deal with Minnesota, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and reports. 

Reed began last season with the Mets and had 19 saves and a 2.57 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox, where he had a 3.33 ERA in 29 games (27 innings) without a save as a setup man for Craig Kimbrell.  

Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration


Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

The Red Sox and star right fielder Mookie Betts intend to go to an arbitration hearing in February, and there were signs this was coming even a year ago.

Betts was the only arbitration-eligible player on the Red Sox who did not settle on a contract with the team on Friday, when a deadline arrived for all teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange 2018 salary figures. Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Drew Pomeranz were the biggest names to avoid hearings.

Betts filed for a $10.5 million salary and the Red Sox filed at $7.5 million.  Betts and the Red Sox agreed previously that if no figure could be settled on by the Friday deadline, they would proceed to a hearing, assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran said. 

A three-person panel of arbitrators therefore is set to determine what Betts makes in 2018: either the $7.5 million figure the Sox filed or the $10.5 million figure Betts' camp submitted. The arbitrators won't settle on a midpoint for the parties. 

O'Halloran noted to the Globe there are no hard feelings involved.

Nonetheless, such a large gap would seem to provide incentive to settle. The parties technically could still decide to do so, but that would take a change of course from the present plan. The idea was to settle any time before Friday, and they did not. 

Betts is asking for near-record money for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Kris Bryant set the record Friday with a $10.85 million settlement.

The hearings can be difficult for player-team relations because teams have to make the case in front of the player that he is worth less money than he wants.

Betts, 25, hit .264, with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .803 OPS in 2017, numbers that fell from his American League MVP runner-up performance in 2016, but were nonetheless very strong and coupled with first-rate defense.

This offseason is Betts' first of arbitration eligibility. In the first three years of service time in a players' career, there's no recourse if you don't like the salary a team is offering. Teams can pay players anything at league minimum or above. 

The only option a player has in those first three years is to make a stand on principle: you can force the team to technically "renew" your salary, which notes to everyone that you did not agree to the salary. Betts and his agents did that in 2017 when the Sox paid him $950,000, a very high amount relative to most contract renewals.

Some of the standard thinking behind forcing a team to renew a contract is that if an arbitration case comes up down the road — and one now looms for Betts — it's supposed to show the arbitrators that the player felt even in seasons past, he was underpaid.

Still, the Sox may have effectively combatted that perception by paying Betts almost $1 million on a renewal. Per USA Today, that $950,000 agreement in 2017 was "the second-highest one-year deal ever for a non-arbitration-eligible player with two-plus years of big league service." Mike Trout got $1 million in 2014.