Despite Terry Francona camping out in the visitor's clubhouse over the weekend at Yankee Stadium, the era of World Series rings, "idiots" and a near-Yankee-level payroll is deceased. In fact, if you haven't noticed, this era has been without a pulse for quite some time now.
Make no mistake, the Red Sox are in Phase II of the Henry, Werner, Lucchino era. It remains doubtful that the second act will be as successful as the first. But if Boston is to wash its hands totally clean of Phase I, it must start trading off its old, noisy gears Tuesday before 4 p.m. (the MLB trade deadline).
Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury are the four that must go.
The way in which Beckett poisons a clubhouse has been long discussed. His 5-9 record and 4.57 ERA this season has just accelerated the process of trading him to a desired spot south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Lester has been a disaster this year, but he along with Ellsbury could still bring back legitimate big league prospects.
Ortiz has whined for several years about how the front office strings him along with year-to-year deals. He is 36-years-old and looked as though he was fully cooked over two years ago. His production could fall off at any hour.
Ellsbury is a potential league MVP when healthy (which isn't often). But it remains clear as day that he will not re-sign in Boston after his current contract expires in the fall of 2013.
Remember the farm?
From 2005-2008 the Red Sox looked as though it had the perfect baseball dual threat: A year-in and year-out World Series contender at the big league level and a farm system that produced stars like Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Clay Buchholz, Lester and Ellsbury.
But it's been a while since we saw someone come through the ranks and become an All-Star.
Some of this can be attributed to poor drafting, but the main issue has been that the Red Sox have been trading off parts at the trade deadline and in the offseason each and every year for over a decade.
Think a young gun like the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo would help this team right now?
The farm system desperately needs to be replenished. The best option for this right now is getting prospects back for the current players that could help legitimate playoff contenders.
Don’t care about the Bronx
The Red Sox panicked two offseasons ago by bringing in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. They were still plenty bitter about not landing Mark Teixeira the year prior.
After all this time, it’s become clear that the ownership group has no longterm intention of competing with the Yankees financially (they are $20 million off the pace this year). And that’s fine. They are quite alright being in the top five payroll-wise, but matching them dollar for dollar has never been the wisest move to make.
This team needs to get back to making wise BASEBALL decisions. It’s that simple. For a .500 team that has shown no signs this year of being a potential World Series champion (that’s the measuring stick now thanks to Phase I), it’s time to sell and sell big.