By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
If Ben Cherington had been an investment banker, it is likely he would be doing time in a federal penitentiary for the way he wasted hundreds of millions of dollars of John Henry’s money right now.
Between the newly designated for assignment Pablo Sandoval ($95M), the no longer in baseball Allen Craig ($41.25), the costliest minor-leaguer in history Rusney Castillo (72.5M), and a guy who often times less motivated than a sleepy slug – Hanley Ramirez ($88M) – Larry Lucchino’s former hand puppet has taken nearly $300 million of the Red Sox greenbacks; and flushed them into the Boston Harbor.
This doesn’t even take into account the bungling of the Jon Lester contract – that resulted in now president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, dumping $217 million at the feet of the fickle David Price in 2015 – or the lack of return he got (Craig and Joe Kelly) for John Lackey, and his team friendly contract at the time.
In 2013, Cherington and Lucchino ran into one, much like the way the Panda runs into salad; by pure happenstance. The fluke of a championship emboldened the puppet master and his pet; so much so, that their missteps are the reason that the Red Sox are reticent to go over the luxury tax at the trade deadline this season.
During his press conference to discuss the dismissal of Sandoval, Dombrowski was seemingly attempting to be diplomatic. “It was a very difficult decision in some ways. Any time you have a player that has a long-term contract with a lot of dollars involved, that’s been a good player, that’s a difficult decision,” said the Sox big boss. “You’re always hoping that player bounces back and is the player you’ve seen in the past. That was hard. You’re talking about a lot of money. I give ownership a lot of credit. They were willing to allow us to do this.”
Credit? Credit?? Credit???
These are the same guys who green lighted Cherington to spend like a drunken sailor, on players (see the list above) that were either unknowns, or no one thought at the time would be a good fit. This is the same crew that let Theo Epstein give Carl Crawford a seven-year, $142 million contract; just to watch him turn into a puddle when the bright lights of Boston, and Fenway Park, came on in his first season with the team in 2011 – the infamous “chicken and beer” debacle.
And they are the ones that saw fit to choose Lucchino over Epstein, when the dust was still settling on that season’s massive meltdown.
You reap what you sow, and the end that came for Lucchino and Cherington in 2015, is proof of that.
For as much as Cherington gets credit for the Red Sox once fruitful farm system, of the young stars on the team – Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi – only Benintendi was selected by the Sox former GM.
During his time running the Red Sox, Lucchino became so obsessed with the New York Yankees, that he turned his team into a carbon copy of the “Evil Empire.” For too long, he thought he was the smartest guy in the room – and likely still does – but it was his boneheaded mistakes that resulted in Jon Lester pitching for the Cubs and not the Sox; and the clown show that was Bobby Valentine.
The truth of the matter is, no matter who made the push to throw ridiculous money at poorly chosen players, or who pulled the trigger on outrageously bad trades; Red Sox ownership was complicit at every turn.
The designation for assignment by the team of Sandoval on Friday, is just another feather falling onto the bed of wasted cash that is weighing down the team’s ability to add talent at the major-league level, as the trading deadline approaches.
Of course, the team will deny that they don’t want to go over the luxury tax, but it is more likely than not that Dombrowski has been given notice not to do so without prior authorization from the check-cutting spendthrifts, whose bills are coming due.
There is no getting around the fact that the duo of Lucchino and Cherington did an awful lot of damage to the Red Sox pocket book, before they were shown the door together in ’15. However, it is just as true that the Sox ownership needs to look in the mirror and realize; they are just as guilty.
It is a king-sized bed of lost cash that they had a hand in making. It’s too bad that Red Sox fans have to sleep in it with them.
Follow on Twitter @KevinMFlanagan. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.