The Boston Red Sox, mired in a 20-32 slump since the All-Star break, began the necessary organizational face lift in late August by moving the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.
That was just the beginning.
Boston will be going through a complete overhaul this offseason as the squad reboots its plan to produce a winning ball club. More players will be gone than return, and the manager could be fired as soon as this weekend, but the changes need to start from deeper within the ranks—the ownership.
John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner need to take a page out of The King of Pop's playbook, start with the men in the mirror and ask them to change their ways.
Many fans around Boston are calling for the heads of the trio, while others are just simply praying that the group, which has owned the franchise for the past decade and brought the city its first World Series title in 86 years, will sell, sell, sell. While that does seem likely to happen within the next five years, don't count on it coming this offseason.
However, the owners should realize that for the organization to head in a fresh, forward and positive direction, it will have to start with themselves. They'll have to figure out how to take the success that they enjoyed in their first five years, learn from the mistakes they've made in the past five and apply them to how the game has changed and will evolve over the course of the next five.
Would you rather see the Red Sox retool in the offseason for a run next year or take three years to rebuild from the bottom up?
From 2003 on, the Red Sox seemed to be ahead of the curve, having hired the Jesus of Sabermetrics, Bill James, as a special advisor and emphasizing values he preached from the major league club on down.
Clearly, it worked. For a little while.
The team won the World Series in two of the next four years, and the rest is history. That is until around 2010 when ownership started getting away from the core of why they were successful, much of which came from his input. A few bad signings that James wasn't fond of later and Boston finds itself under the spotlight during one of the darkest periods of Red Sox baseball in the team's history.
Listen to James, win games. It's that simple.
But the problems within the ownership do run a little deeper than that, which is becoming more and more blatantly obvious as time passes. Henry would never admit it, but it's hard to justify that he has the time or energy to put into this club that he once did. While his heart may still be as in it as it was from day one, owning two organizations across the Atlantic Ocean from each other is time consuming. Especially when they're two of the most famous teams in their respective sports, with two of the most rabid and demanding fan bases on the planet.
It's tough to say, but Henry needs to pick one or the other. Throw in his co-ownership of Roush Fenway Racing, and it's gets a bit out of hand.
In addition to just being stretched too thin, it seems that in an effort to keep fans coming to the ball park, buying merchandise and staying fat and happy, the group has transformed the organization into more of a business than a ball club.
This needs to stop.
Sellout streaks, advertising and marketable faces on the diamond are nice and all, but the Boston Red Sox play baseball. That's all they've ever done, or will ever do. When money gets too heavily involved, ahead of developing the most fundamentally and productively-sound team, fecal matter hits the fan.
My advice to Henry, Lucchino, and Werner? You all fell in love with the game of baseball at some point. Find that part inside all of you again. Focus on the game being played on the field and nothing else.
The rest will sort itself out, I promise.