Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey had a
habit of drinking beer, eating fast-food fried chicken, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games while their teammates tried to salvage a once-promising season. ...There is more (buying the players $300 headphones?!?!), including Theo Epstein being explicitly fingered as the man who pushed against management's doubts to sign Carl Crawford. If Epstein is truly having a "heart vs head" debate about whether to head to Chicago, waking up this morning to this article may clear his mind.
Francona spent the season living in a hotel after he moved out of the Brookline home he shared with Jacque, his wife of nearly 30 years. But he adamantly denied his marital problems affected his job performance. ... Team sources also expressed concern that Francona's performance may have been affected by his use of pain medication, which he also vehemently denied. ...
By all accounts, the 2011 Sox perished from a rash of relatively small indignities. For every player committed to the team's conditioning program, there was a slacker. For every Sox regular who rose early on the road to take optional batting practice, there were others who never bothered. For every player who dedicated himself to the quest for a championship, there were too many distracted by petty personal issues. ...
Sources said Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, who were joined at times by Buchholz, began the practice late in 2010. The pitchers not only continued the routine this year, sources said, but they joined a number of teammates in cutting back on their exercise regimens despite appeals from the team’s strength and conditioning coach Dave Page. ... For Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, the consequences were apparent as their body fat appeared to increase and pitching skills eroded.
Elsewhere, there is also a report of Beckett telling teammates that he no longer cared about the outcome of the season once his chances at the Cy Young faded away. Lou Merloni stated on WEEI this morning that the team meeting in Toronto was focused on Beckett.
Hohler lists Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Alfredo Aceves, and Jonathan Papelbon among the team's hardest workers. WEEI's Rob Bradford writes that he does not completely agree with the characterization of Ellsbury's relationship with his teammates as "chilled" after 2010's Ribgate.
Ellsbury clearly socialized and regularly interacted with more than just one player — Jed Lowrie — as the report suggested.A dysfunctional team can win (e.g., 1972-74 A's and 1977-78 Yankees, for two famous examples), but the wide-spread unprofessionalism - like when at least 4/5 of your starting rotation has oodles of time to eat fried chicken and play video games, but not to exercise - is a sign that things are seriously fucked up.
The big questions are: How much housecleaning has to be done to demonstrate that a weekend softball beer-league mentality will not be tolerated, and who gets cut loose or traded?
Wakefield and Varitek will probably not return in 2012, and that has as much, if not more, to do with their declining skills as any behind-the-scenes issues. Still, Pedroia was the only player to speak on the record to the Globe, while Varitek, the team's captain, "chastised a reporter for calling him at home and otherwise declined to comment".
Looking at the "I Like Beer" trio: Beckett and Lackey are both signed through 2014, with Beckett making $15.75 per and Lackey at $15.25. The team could get more value for Beckett (though he has 10-5 rights), but how can Lackey remain in Boston? The boos he got in September will likely seem like cheers compared to the reception he'll hear next spring.
Beckett, in a late August interview:
Baseball isn't my No. 1 priority anymore. ... I definitely find myself thinking about [my wife Holly and the baby] whereas a lot of times I used to be thinking about how I was going to get this guy out, or what I needed to do that day. ... I have three more years of obligation here and at that point my family is going to be even more important ... Can we get a job closer to home? Do we want to play in Boston still? Do we want to go out to the West Coast and be in the nice weather?Lester has two years remaining, with 2012 coming at the bargain rate of $7.6 (he will be paid $11.6 in 2013 and the team has a $13 option for 2014).
Kevin Youkilis, who has been hampered by injuries and, according to the Globe, "by nearly all accounts, grew more detached and short-tempered as he tried to play through his ailments", is in the final year of his contract, though the club holds an option for 2013.
As if that wasn't enough, SoSHer BroodsSexton points out: "There is going to be a constant effort by the press to stir shit up next year based upon the expectations set by these stories."
If only the team could get rid of the mediots who believe they are (or deserve to be) co-stars in the on-going story (drama, soap opera) of the Red Sox. But they can't, so we have to tolerate people like Peter Abraham, who suggests (with a straight face) that the Red Sox allow possible managerial candidates to be interviewed by the local media as part of the team's evaluation process.
[Other pertinent articles linked in comments]