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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Whither Theo and the Trio?

By the time this editorial is posted, it could be a moot point. The fact is it should have been a moot point before I sat down to write it. For these negotiations to have gotten to this point is inexcusable, because it means that one party is being less than honest.

In listening to the various sports talk shows in town, along with reading the papers, what Mo Vaughn said during his negoations way back: "It Ain't about the money" is really true. Given his experience in the job (3 years), if the most recent offer rumored to have been made (3 yrs in the neighborhood of 1.75 million) is true, then that's a reasonable committment. That would be a doubling of his current income and personally, if my employer came knocking on my door with that kind of offer, I'd be signing my name on whatever line he wanted. And I think most people would do the same.

But this negotiation is more about authority, autonomy, power and respect than it is about money. Theo wants to be "the man", the final authority in all things related to player personnel movements. This apparently bothers Larry Luccino, who views himself as someone with both a good sense of business AND a decent evaluator of talent. While having Theo answer directly to John Henry wouldn't be a complete disaster, it would cut Larry out of part of the checks and balances that good, strong stable franchises need.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall during some of these sessions. For every Nomar move, there can be a Edgar counter. For each bullpen by committe mention, the acquestion of Foulke is brought up. Each time Curt comes out of someones mouth, another person will silently mutter Matt. The truth is that Theo is an average evaluator of major league talent. His batting average is around 500, as there have been as many Ramon Vazquez signings as there have been Mark Belhorn (ignore 2005. focus on what happened in 2004).

The minor leagues is where Theo gets to puff out his chest and proudly point to what's happening. But..... he's only as good as the info that the scouts give him. Plus, last time I checked, the only draftee to have made any impact with the big league team was Jonathan Papelbon. All those prospects are just that...prospects. And until they make it to the majors and show they can stay, they can't alter the balance of success regarding the major league mistakes Theo has made.

The 2006 season will be the test in that regard. Depending on trades and free agent signings, we could see the greatest influx of minor league talent in decades..... perhaps as far back as 75, when Fred Lynn and Jim Rice both arrived full time. If Dustin Pedroia, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Leicester and Hanley Ramirez are what "everyone" says they're destined to be, then Theo should get the keys to the house, because he kept them instead of trading them for immediate help. If, however, they turn out to be less than that.... say Brian Rose-like.... then what happened in 2004 will be a very distant memory.

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