Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Molasses to Rum

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I don’t know that I’ve ever read Brian MacPherson from the Union Leader before, but if this article is any indication, I’m not missing much.

Okay, that’s a bit harsh.  MacPherson isn’t a terrible writer, just a stereotypical member of the New England sports media looking for trouble where there most likely isn’t any.  His article today is nothing but a whinefest about how horrible the Red Sox (specifically Theo and Tito) are to their players.   Listen, I can give  you a laundry list of players who I felt got the shaft by the team.  But it’s a personal feeling and in no way takes away from the fact that I understand the team does what it does, ultimately, for the betterment of the organization as a whole and it’s not anything personal.  MacPherson seems to be taking fanboyishness to a new level today:

WHETHER OR NOT the Red Sox sign Mark Teixeira this week — or next week or the week after — Theo Epstein and Terry Francona are going to have some serious work to do.

They’ll have some work to do with Mike Lowell, first of all. He signed a team-friendly contract just a year ago, turning down more years and bigger money elsewhere, but he became trade bait as soon as the Red Sox began courting Teixeira.

It’s not just Lowell, though. They’ll have work to do with Kevin Youkilis — and Josh Beckett, and even Dustin Pedroia.

The Teixeira negotiations have sent a message to everyone who wears a Red Sox uniform: We don’t care who you are. You are expendable.

Is he for real? He thinks these players don’t know that baseball is a business and the teams they play for will do whatever they can to sign players who will help the team win?

He thinks that, after the season he had physically, Mike Lowell didn’t know this would possibly be happening?

And Kevin Youkilis is on record as having said:

If we add a guy like Mark Teixeira to the team, that would be great,” said Youkilis. “You never know – I might be the guy traded (to make room). But I don’t mind it; I get to play baseball for a living.”

MacPherson is right. Youk sounds pissed to me. (Shout out to SG for the heads up on that story.)

MacPherson gives no reason Beckett will need to be “worked” with and he goes on to admit that Pedroia doesn’t have to “worry”.   Hell, though, he even throws Jason Bay into the mix.   He needs to be concerned that the Red Sox have no loyalty to their players.  He brings up Bronson Arroyo.  You remember Bronson.  He was traded in 2006.  Red Sox stuck a knife in his heart when they traded him (and got suck in return).  It was shitty and  many people thought so.  Funny, though, how it hasn’t stopped players from signing with the Sox.  Funny how it hasn’t affected the success of the team.

Here’s how MacPherson ends his piece:

Baseball is a business, sure. But when your product is your people, you have to treat them a certain way.

I, actually, don’t entirely disagree with this.  But here’s the thing for me, loyalty goes both ways.  The Red Sox treated Manny like a God and he gave them the finger.  They made really good offers to Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon and were told “we’re going where the money is”.  There is practically NO loyalty in baseball (Bronson Arroyo aside) but to blame it solely on the owners (and, in this case, the entire Red Sox front office) makes no sense to me.

I often say that if I were GM, John Valentin would have been the shortstop until he shattered into a million pieces.  This is one of the many reasons I’m not a general manager of a baseball team.  I’ll tell you what, I don’t want to see Mike Lowell go anywhere.  He’s been great for this team, he seems like a genuinely good guy, and in a time when he could have taken advantage of the free agent market, he, essentially, took a discount to stay in Boston.  I think it would stink on ice if he got booted just because someone younger and shinier came to town.  But as much as I would hate it, I understand it.  And so do the players – I’m guessing more than I.

Baseball is a business.  It’s lousy, but true.  And it’s probably the first thing these guys learn about baseball once they hit the bigs.  This isn’t news to anyone.


December 22, 2008 - Posted by | Boston Sports Media, Hot Stove, Players, Rants | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I don’t care if it is a business. Leave Mike alone!
    There should be a little loyalty in every business, even Baseball.
    (no icons on the replies?)

    Comment by Red Son Hen | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. I believe there should be loyalty. But I know there isn’t.

    And the loyalty should be on both sides.

    When Bronson was traded, I saw it coming and was still really devastated for him. When Kyle was DFA’d I DIDN’T see it coming and was devastated. Two players who were loyal and got kicked for it. I hate that.

    BUT, generally, I understand the reasons things happen. Doesn’t mean I like it, but I get it.

    Comment by Cyn | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. Just a side note…Bronson Arroyo was on ‘Extreme Makeover, Home Edition’ last night. The family was from the Cinicnnati area and Bronson was the son’s favorite player. Bronson came to their house, in uniform, and invited the boy to come throw out the first pitch at a game. During the closing credits, the boy was shown delivering the pitch at the stadium. The family was very impressed with Bronson. Seems to be a great guy.

    Comment by KFish | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. Cyn, well said. I wondered if it would come back to bite Mikey when he took the Red Sox offer and now it looks like it might.

    It’s tough being a fan when they look at it as a business. But it is what it is and there isn’t anything we can do about it.

    Comment by Ted | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  5. K, that was a repeat. 🙂 It was a very cool thing for him to do.

    Comment by Cyn | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  6. “There is practically NO loyalty in baseball (Bronson Arroyo aside)”

    You know, I think “loyalty” is not quite the right word to use in that case. It’s not as though there wasn’t self-interest there. So far as I could tell Bronson loved the city, loved the fans, loved Fenway and playing for the Red Sox, and as a result made poorly-informed financial concessions in his deal. Is that really “loyalty”? IMO the way “loyalty” gets tossed around it implies a selflessness that isn’t actually there. I could see “loyalty” in re-signing with a crappy team that depended on you, knowing that that team would continue to suck. But I don’t really see it in making financial concessions for a team that you like better, particularly when those concessions aren’t, say for thousands vs. millions.

    “And it’s probably the first thing these guys learn about baseball once they hit the bigs.”

    Let’s talk about draft deals and signing bonuses. Pretty sure these guys know about business a long, long time before that. 😉 And for all that there’s plenty I dislike about him, I think it was Shea Hillenbrand who said that one thing he hated in the minors was the cutthroat atmosphere, because fundamentally, everyone there wants the same prize, and it doesn’t necessarily get given out for being unselfish. (And as a disclaimer, I would imagine that the better a team is in evaluating its own talent–and I think the Sox are one of the best–the less this is true, at least to a detrimental extent.)

    I know I say this every time this comes up, but I still think Theo said it best when he said that the hardest part of accepting the position of GM was giving up being a fan.

    Comment by KellyO | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  7. Yup, it’s all business. Which of course makes it hard when we the fans covet favorite players.

    Youk also went on record saying he’d gladly play third base full time should we land Texeira.

    There is loyalty amongst thieves my friends… that’s what we need to keep in mind.

    Comment by Rebecca | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  8. Oops, Typo. Or maybe a Freudian slip! I meant to say:
    “There is NO loyalty amongst thieves…”

    Comment by Rebecca | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  9. Why does KellyO have to be so damn logical? and right? 😉

    Comment by Tex19 | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  10. If I recall correctly, Lowell and Beckett came to the Sox together, after playing together for quite a while on the Marlins. However, Beckett was quoted at one point saying he had never played without Alex Gonzalez behind him as a shortstop, and after he left the Sox Josh did just fine.

    I think the loyalty issue is interesting, and I’m going to toss another log on the fire to simmer: loyalty to whom? The fact that we all want a player to stay does not mean that it is in his best interest to do so. Bronson may be a very good example: HE wanted to stay, WE all gasped in shock when he was traded…but his career in Cincinnati has been something it may not have ever been in Boston.

    Mind you, I am not saying that these decisions are made in some sort of grand altruistic manner, with Theo, Tito and John Henry looking mournful and saying to the player “This will hurt us a lot more than it will hurt you” like Ward about to administer a punishment to Wally and the Beav. But their first loyalty is to the team and the business. They have all admitted publicly, at one time or another, their sincere affection for and even friendship with certain players. Lowell is a good example. They all like him immensely as a person. but let him ride the bench? Not fair to the team, the payroll, or to Mike.

    I am actually sitting here and moaning over the fact Lowell might leave. I love his spirit and style, and he has performed incredibly well for the team during his time here. I want him to stay. I feel that MacPhereson is stating that the team should treat the players a certain way…and by his definition that means the team should be loyal to public opinion. If we don’t like Mike leaving, well there is no way we are going to accept any reasoning by the front office. They are being mean and cruel to him, end of point, period.

    The truth is, we don’t know what they are doing or thinking in the front office. The truth is, the office has a job to do, and that is where their loyalty lies. The truth is, there are other teams who have treated their players far worse during times that were far less clear. I can think of a dozen examples from the team I grew up watching, where management came out in public blasting a player and making threats about their contract whenever they did not perform on the field as the owner expected. Playing injured? Doesn’t matter, you didn’t hit. That kind of thing. (Guess the team and win a coconut 😉 ) So maybe my opinion is a bit biased, considering that I have rarely, if ever, seen this management do that to a player.

    I’ll be the first to admit that if they let Lowell go I will be weeping over it. Until anything actually happens, though, I will refrain from throwing stones at the Sox management. Call me a hypocrite if you like, but the truth is my loyalty lies with the players…or maybe, with my own feelings. At least I can admit to that, though. MacPherson needs to do the same, I think. His articles might be improved by his being able to separate his personal loyalties (to players…or to public opinion?) from the facts that are being presented and can be found out through research and asking questions.

    Comment by Emmie | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  11. If we are going to talk loyalty or maybe an allegience to a team I think we need to mention Tim Wakefield. Now he is definitely one of my favorites for all he has done for the team and willing to do whatever it takes.

    Great comments by everyone.

    Comment by Cruiser | December 24, 2008 | Reply

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