The 2011 Red Sox: “a story of disunity, disloyalty, and dysfunction like few others in franchise history”

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There’s a long and rich history of the folks in the Red Sox organization casting blame, settling scores and throwing people under the bus after things have gone sideways on the field.  It’s been a subdued dynamic for the past several years as success and a new professionalism has asserted itself, but with Terry Francona gone and Theo Epstein just about out the door, it has come roaring back.

Bob Hohler’s story in today’s Boston Globe is a classic of the genre. He spoke with “individuals familiar with the Sox operation at all levels” who told him “a story of disunity, disloyalty, and dysfunction like few others in franchise history.”  The knives are out and it’s kind of glorious in a sick way. Highlights:

  • Team sources claim that Terry Francona’s marital problems and use of pain medication affected his performance; Francona vehemently denied it. Sources also say that Francona increasingly took on the role of a lame duck manager with his effectiveness at reaching his players reduced as his suspicion that the team would not exercise his 2012 option grew;
  • There was acrimony and resentment on the part of the players surrounding the scheduling of a double header against the A’s in August due to Hurricane Irene;
  • Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey not only drank beer, but played video games and ate takeout chicken and biscuits in the clubhouse during games and cut back on their exercise regimes against the advice and wishes of team trainers;
  • Kevin Youkilis became increasingly frustrated and detached as he battled injuries, and his public spat with Jacoby Ellsbury last year had the effect of Ellbury withdrawing from interaction with most of his teammates this year;
  • Adrian Gonzalez hit the ball, but “he provided none of the energy or passion off the field that the Sox sorely needed.”  David Ortiz was a clubhouse disruption too; and
  • Theo Epstein, you may have heard, signed Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks and those guys kind of stunk.

What to make of all of this? Old-style Boston blood-letting, I reckon. Not to say that the things listed above weren’t all real problems.  They were. But they’re all things you never hear about if, over the course of six months, the Red Sox win one more game and make the playoffs.  Indeed, Francona said that exact thing in response to all of this:

“You never heard any of these complaints when we were going 80-41 [from April 15 to Aug. 27] because there was nothing there. But we absolutely stunk in the last month, so now we have to deal with a lot of this stuff because expectations were so high.’’

Never change, Boston!

Tigers place Michael Fulmer on 10-day disabled list

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Right-hander Michael Fulmer is going on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain, the Tigers announced Friday. In a corresponding move, right-hander Victor Alcantara was recalled from Triple-A Toledo.

Fulmer, 25, apparently suffered the injury during a routine bullpen session on Friday. A formal timeline for his recovery has not been announced yet. The righty is 3-9 in 19 starts this year with a 4.50 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 112 innings pitched. This is his first real setback of 2018 and figures to delay any potential trade discussions the Tigers might have been entertaining for Fulmer’s services.

Alcantara, meanwhile, will fill the open roster spot while Fulmer works his way back to the rotation. The 25-year-old righty is expected to help boost a bullpen that currently ranks fourth-worst in the American League with a collective 4.45 ERA and 1.0 fWAR. While Alcantara hasn’t done much at the major-league level so far — he tossed a scoreless three innings in relief during his last call-up — he maintained an impressive 2.81 ERA, 1.2 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 through 51 1/3 innings in Triple-A this year.