NEW YORK — Ben Cherington took the charge from the Boston media mob in the Red Sox dugout before Sunday night’s 4-1 series finale loss to the Yankees. Cherington handled himself well. Unlike his bosses, the Sox general manager chose not to blame this season’s trainwreck on injuries, bad luck, or nasty coverage from the Blue Meanies in the press box.
“Normally when you’re being scrutinized there’s a reason for it,’’ said the first-year GM. “Things aren’t going the way you want them to, so you’re scrutinized more. We sort of made that bed ourselves and it’s up to us to make it better. When we make it better there will be less scrutiny and probably fewer distractions.’’
Amen, to that. Finally someone in a position of power admits the reality.
“While we’re in this, we’ve got to deal with the pressure because we’re not performing up to the standard that we expect,’’’ continued Cherington. “When things aren’t going well in a place like Boston, there’s going to be attention to that. Everyone in baseball ops, myself included, is responsible for making it better. We’ve earned the criticism. We’ve earned the scrutiny. It’s part of being in this game in Boston.
“There’s great upside to being in this game in Boston when things are going well. When things aren’t going well, you’ve got to deal with a lot of questions.’’
Paging Mr. Henry . . . Mr. Werner . . . Mr. Lucchino.
Cherington would not comment on the rumor involving departed catcher Kelly Shoppach (who allegedly used Adrian Gonzalez’s cellphone to contact the owners for the Palace Revolt meeting). He said, “I’m focused on finding ways to make our situation better.’’
Great. In my never-ending effort to help, here’s a suggestion: Schedule Carl Crawford’s Tommy John surgery for tonight. Sooner if possible.
The Sox GM told us Sunday there will be a meeting Monday to decide what to do about Crawford’s request for surgery.
It’s pretty simple. The Sox have finally acknowledged that Crawford is going to have surgery at some point. It’s just a matter of when.
So what would be holding things up, you ask?
Easy answer. The Sox are afraid that if they let Crawford have surgery now it’s an admission that they know this year is over. Ever since Theo Epstein was taken to the woodshed for his “bridge year” projection, the Sox have been unwilling to admit they are anything less than championship-driven. So even though it’s obvious that this season is flushed down the tidy bowl, the Sox feel they have to keep telling you they have not given up.
It’s OK to give up. Waiting any longer on Crawford’s surgery only hurts the Sox’ prospects for 2013.
Bobby Valentine certainly seems resigned regarding Crawford.
“The elbow situation is trending the wrong way,’’ said the manager. “If that’s the case . . . ’’
The Sox need to stop insulting their fans with this notion that they’re still playing for something in 2012. No one is going to hammer the organization if it starts making moves with an eye toward 2013. This starts with letting Crawford have his surgery now.
All of which brings us to Josh Beckett, the erstwhile ace who performs to the tune of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.’’
Beckett (5-11, 5.23 ERA) and bookend bandmate Jon Lester (7-10, 5.03) have earned the biggest slices of the 2011 and 2012 blame pies. The Sox know that the easiest way to stop their public hemorrhaging would be to move Beckett in a post-deadline deal which would yield 25 cents on the dollar . . . or simply release the stubborn, “bleep everybody” righthander.
It’s hard to do. As great as it would feel — like unleashing a vicious elbow when you’re standing under the basket fighting for position with Bill Laimbeer — there’s the small issue of $15.75 million guaranteed to Beckett in 2013 and 2014, plus the fear that he will go someplace like Atlanta and pitch well. This leads to wise-guy sports anchors running video highlights and asking, “Why can’t we get pitchers like that?’’
It’s not popular with the public, but it’s more likely the Sox will hold on to Beckett and hope he pitches well — especially if the Sox can find a way to bring John Farrell back to manage. (Orel Hershiser told me last night that Valentine asked him to be the Sox pitching coach last winter.)
We got the same old, same old from Beckett in the Bronx. He gave up four runs on seven hits (two Ichiro homers) and three walks in six innings. You could tell the Yankees are no longer taking Beckett, or the Red Sox, seriously. The Bombers twice took themselves out of potential big innings by swinging at 3-and-0 pitches. The most egregious violation was Eric Chavez popping up a 3-and-0 pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. Just bad baseball.
Beckett has two wins in 12 starts since May 26.
“Josh had some of the best stuff he’s had in a while,’’ said Valentine. “He had trouble with two hitters. Ichiro and [Derek] Jeter [three hits each] did him in.’’
“I made some bad pitches to two guys,’’ said Beckett. “It’s a work in progress, I guess. Still [bad] results.
Told that Cherington still considers him a foundation piece for next year, Beckett said, “That’s not my decision.’’ He then added, “I like that he believes in me.’’
The Red Sox are 66-83 over 149 games since Sept. 1. They return home against the struggling Angels Tuesday night.
I’m betting it will be another sellout and “Sweet Caroline’’ will be played before the home team hits in the bottom of the eighth.