Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Puppetmaster


Who's pulling the strings at Fenway? First and foremost, John Henry, one of the four hundred richest men on the planet, is a businessman. That's not criticism, or meant solely as fact, but as a compliment. Of course, Henry can't be micromanaging every business decision, any more than he can make every trade for his investment empire. Success at the top means setting goals, with not only a vision and a plan, and hiring the right people to execute your plan.

All of which brings us to the state of management. We have every reason to believe that the Hoyers and Cheringtons of the organization will continue to point the Sox in the right direction. The question is, who establishes the philosophy, the direction, the priorities, the budget, and surveys the constantly changing landscape that is baseball?

As a fan, I have great confidence in the CEO's ability to create an improving (albeit antiquated and expensive) physical plant, to establish business operations priorities, to expand Red Sox revenues, and run the business side of the operation adroitly. His baseball playing resume' aside, I lack the same confidence in his legerdemain concerning baseball operations. Dirty Larry has shown us his dark side in the execution of critical negotiations for GM. I don't necessarily agree with the Herald's article today about the search process. What independent, confident, and ahem, employed legitimate GM candidate will cede authority and control to the extent that we believe the CEO demands over baseball operations?

If you have the experience, the vision, the talent, and the eye of the GM, are you going to accept training wheels for decision-making? I'm not talking about budgetary review, fiduciary responsibility (the two most abused words in America), medical evaluations, and so on. What all of us desire is a capable GM who makes independent baseball judgements without the need for the imprimatur of the Prince.

Maybe the Sox have it all under control. But it sure doesn't look like it from here.

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