Stop looking in your wallet. You won’t find either your head or heart inside. Here, let me help you wade through the heavy pay stubs of Big Papi and John Lackey in search of a better bottom line. Look Theo. I know you’re a numbers guy. I know you believe you can derive meaning in spreadsheets and can craft a 99 win season based on statistics alone. So let’s first examine the Boston Red Sox’s 2010 payroll your way – logically and with a healthy dose of skepticism – and then let’s try mine.
Mike Lowell is a 36 year-old broken third baseman. First it was the hip, now the thumb. He’s at the tail end of a solid career. A good guy who’s just going to wind up kicking rocks in the clubhouse as he waits for the chance to step in for a measly 30 games. His $12 million presence will just waste on the bench and depress his teammates. We should send him to some other field where aging ballplayers go to retire. Trading him is nothing personal, it’s just business.
So let’s talk about that. Baseball is the national pastime. But it’s also a business. Someone needs to pay the electric bills at Fenway. I get that. So let’s discuss the way we do business in Boston. And let’s be honest Theo, the Red Sox front office has not always been known for its savvy decision-making. Over the years it’s caught a few breaks and bumbled more than twice. It could be classified as taking risks. And of being foolish. Sometimes a little of both pays off.
Sometimes you risk selling your franchise player and are rewarded with a World Series win. And sometimes you foolishly trade another and reap an 86 year drought. Now, we’re not talking about trading a franchise player. We’re talking about Mike Lowell. And what I’m saying is that it shouldn’t be business as usual with him. Because that would be so old school of you Theo.
Nowadays, businesses are held accountable for their actions and encouraged to look beyond where they finished on the NYSE, to craft reputations based on something greater than profit. We’re not talking about flipping a house Theo. We’re talking about cultivating an environment of class and leadership in a clubhouse not always known as such. We’re talking about putting a higher value on clutch over plate appearances. We’re talking about respect.
Is there no box for clutch in your accounting system? What about heart? What is your price tag for loyalty? Respect? Huh. You don’t see those figures on your sheet? Here, have a look at my copy.
See. Mikey Lowell is a ballplayer. A gamer. He shows up and grits out a solid season even after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2004. Even while playing with bone on bone in 2009. Even after taking a pay cut to stay with the team he loves. His name is consistently associated with words like clutch, class, and professional – words almost never associated with the front office. So Theo, if you look at your numbers, you’ll see Lowell dug out a better season than his younger, healthier replacement. And that’s after batting behind Papi who couldn’t manage to get on the bags last season.
While both Lowell and Beltre are Gold Glove winners, Lowell’s already earned the trust and respect of his teammates and the rest of Red Sox Nation. He’s also already won them their second World Series ring this decade. Take a closer look at my spreadsheet Theo, you just might see a figure worth investing in. Maybe take a risk on the old guy.