"Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned but heaven hath no sweetness like a sports fan vindicated." - Samcat

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Once and Future GM

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(Please be getting us a shortstop, Theo)

So Theo's the General Manager of the Red Sox again. Raise your hand if you're surprised.

Anyone? Anyone?

Didn't think so.

With Theo's promotion (re-motion? Re-instatement?), co-GMs Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer (or the Two-Headed GM Monster, TM Annette), have been "reassigned" to roles as Vice President of Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager, respectively. Which, I'm guessing, is just fine with them.

The Globe's article is filled with more doublespeak and circular rhetoric than Orwell's 1984 but what it does make clear is the following:

Hoyer, 32, and Cherington, 31, both said they went into the jobs of co-GMs understanding that Epstein could well return.

''During our meetings with John, Tom and Larry in the days preceding our announcement as co-GMs, Ben and I were not only aware, but also quite hopeful, that this structure could pave the way for Theo's return," Hoyer said. ''We are thrilled that it has."


Added Cherington: ''I was aware that by accepting the co-general manager position I was helping to 'leave the light on' for Theo's eventual return. Since preserving the direction of our baseball operation is so important to me, I welcome Theo's return as an opportunity to continue what we have started to build."

This? I believe every word of. Who knows if Lucchino and Theo have buried the hatchet, so to speak? Who knows if Theo has "more autonomy" than any GM in baseball? Who knows if his new demands include an unlimited supply of Pearl Jam downloads from itunes and a private sauna room with Kelly the ball girl behind the Green Monster? These things we'll probably never know. But I'm reasonably confident that we can all agree that Ben 'n Jed aren't blowing smoke when they said they're glad Theo's back.

Think of it this way: Let's say they'd stayed co-GMs. And let's say they'd pulled off some miraculous trade that netted us a top notch centerfielder or shortstop. Since we all suspected that Theo had spent his entire time "away" working in an advisory capacity anyway (confirmed in the Globe article, by the way), would anyone have given Jeddington (TM Annette) the proper credit for the coup? Would anyone have said, "Well done, lads! Excellent show!" No. No one would have. I'll tell you what we would have said.

"Theo actually made the trade. He's still working behind the scenes."

"Those guys are just figureheads, Theo's pulling all the strings."

And the less charitable amongst us would probably condemn the trade, claiming that, "Theo wouldn't have pulled the trigger on that one because he knows something. This'll come back to bite us in the ass, just you watch."

Now imagine what would happen if the entire team and 2006 season went to shit.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth would be unparalleled around these parts. The bell towers at Harvard and the steeples at the Old North Church would be filled with Red Sox fans crying to the heavens for Theo to come back. There'd be hysteria, the likes of which we've never seen.

Of course, if this all happens on Theo's watch? It's all good. Theo's got a plan. As Sebastian would say, "Cool moss."

So I'd say ole' Ben and Jed dodged a major bullet with this one. Theo's shoes are some mighty big ones to fill. So big, it appears, that the only person capable of filling them is, in fact Theo himself. This is not to say that Cherington and Hoyer are not capable, intelligent men possessing of shrewd baseball minds. I'm sure they are. I'm equally as sure that, had they been given the position of General Manager for real, rather than just as a formaility, they'd have done a better than average job. But exactly how much can one do when one knows they're merely a placeholder? No fault or disrespect to them, but this was always bigger than Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer.

Look, you get lionized around these parts and you become a demi-God. Theo's like David Ortiz. Theo's like Curt Schilling. Theo's like, well, he's Theo. He's reached a point where the only person you can compare him to is himself.

It's not like the man never makes mistakes. I think we can all agree that the Renteria signing was, uh, not his finest hour. And he'll make mistakes again. But in the end, we're willing to overlook them because he's Theo.

Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen. But it is what it is. And Red Sox Nation will sleep a little more soundly knowing that King Theo has been reinstated in his rightful position. And around these parts, calming down the fan base is a full time job.

Now, about that shortstop...