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Monday, October 10, 2005

Fire up the stove . . .

and keep it stoked for the next few months, since nothing is imminent about deals for the Sox, starting with Theo's.
What is the thinking among the brain trust for the Sox - Lucchino, Henry, et al. - when they leave Theo's salary at $350K after his leading the organization to the World Series? when they do not make any overture to discuss the next contract with him for the entire season?
This smells like business to me - in the worst sense of the word, in the sense that they perhaps did not trust his success last year and decided to wait and see this year. Did they dislike his work - Clement was a (typical, historical) post-All Star Game bust and useless in the crunch when the Schillings' and Wells's of the world get tough; Renteria appears to have been hurt most of the year and produced nothing like what he had done historically; nothing came of the Manny talks when they needed to do something before the trade deadline. Are they holding these things against him and intending to use 2005 results to balance the unmitigated success of 2004?
If they are, and we don't know that this is the case, then they are businessmen in the worst sense of that term - willing to rake in profits this year at any cost, even by still underpaying the manager of the year in 2004. They would have paid Billy Beane much much more; Lucchino tagged Theo early and mentored him, now to leave him to the marketplace, where success in the bitter, cynical market of Boston has prepared him for every other GM job in baseball except perhaps Cashman's.
I don't get it. What was the point of waiting this long? Sticking to the letter of the contract terms for a clear leader like Theo and waiting until the end of the contract to talk about the next one is the tactic of people who want to low-ball him or worse, are looking for someone else. It has the aroma of cynicism behind it, as if the owners have somehow been infected by the know-it-all, want-it-now, what-have-you-done-for-me-today fans that shout their brilliance on 'EEI.
Yeah, sports is a business - but it is not like every other business - the product is the people on the court and field and while they are often treated as commodities or worse, the assembly of the right ones to make a run at a title, such as baseball's which requires 162 test just to get into the tournament, is almost as much art as data and keeping it running well for all those tests is more art and intuition than science and data. I hope the owners recognize that.