At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Monday, November 28, 2005

GM By Committee Seems to Work: Look for Larry Soon

By now you no doubt know the Boston Red Sox have taken advantage of the fire sale taking place in Miami, where the Marlins again have found it necessary to shed payroll, and to do so in a hurry. But the most notable thing about this may be the fact that the Sox have done so without a sitting general manager. While the wounds left by Theo Epstein’s surprise departure may still be smarting, it is clear that the team is moving forward, and that’s worth noting whether you’re a fan, player, agent, or opposing GM.

It has been popular lately to wonder whether the Sox can conduct meaningful business without a titular head to its day-to-day operations. But in the past few weeks, a Central Committee consisting of Ben Cherington, Jed Hoyer, Jeremy Kapstein, Bill Lajoie, Craig Shipley, and Larry Lucchino as General Secretary somehow has managed to re-sign Mike Timlin, tender a contract offer to Johnny Damon, and deal for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota. In addition, coaches have been hired, and discussions reportedly also have been ongoing regarding the possible disposition of Manny Ramirez and David Wells, both of whom have requested trades. So it is clear the club is open for business, and given the apparent lack of a compelling candidate to assume the GM role, my November 16 thought that Lucchino himself may be asked to fill the position, even ‘temporarily’ through the 2006 season, refuses to go away.

Even though the current Management by Committee does seem to be working, it is inevitable that the Sox will name a successor to Theo – baseball is tradition-bound, as we know, and operating without a GM is about as non-traditional as it gets. And let’s not forget that sound management practice also recommends that the buck stop somewhere. Given that Lucchino is a senior executive with the team and is a primary controller of player-related pursestrings, in many ways he is already doing the work. How much longer can it be before he is formally gets the job?

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