The loudest voices this season have been the ones calling for the departure of Bobby Valentine from the Boston Red Sox. A group slightly smaller, slightly quieter, but still fairly significant in size, has been the one asking for Ben Cherington's head to roll as well.
Their criticisms are legitimate: Ben Cherington took a bad situation, and through an attempt to find creative solutions to holes in the rotation and bullpen, made it worse. Daniel Bard bombed, neither Mark Melancon nor Andrew Bailey brought much of anything to the team this year, and both Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie seem fairly useful if still flawed out in Oakland and Houston.
On the other hand, allowances must be made for a bad position.
Was Ben Cherington successful in his moves? No, at least aside from Cody Ross. But that's because he was put in a bad situation by some of the massive contracts Theo Epstein had offered up over the years. Cherington was forced to roll the dice if he wanted a chance to win, and while the argument can be made that he rolled the wrong dice, the difference between the expected value of the gambles he took and that of the ones he ideally would have is probably not so great.
And then you have this. The closest thing we've seen to a true masterstroke out of the Red Sox in I don't know how long. Consider this: when Theo Epstein made his moves--signing Lackey, extending Beckett, trading for Adrian Gonzalez, and signing Carl Crawford, there was an expectation that this team would have something of a bell curve of success. 2011 and 2012 were meant to be the years for this squad. Like 2007-2009 for the Boston Celtics after the big three first came to town.
Well, 2011 and 2012 went wrong, and that's a large part of why we were left feeling so pessimistic about the future. These were the best years, and if we couldn't make the playoffs then, what kind of miracles would we need to pull it off when the big-money players were one year older, leaving their prime and entering their decline?
Essentially, what Ben Cherington has done was to take that situation and pull an almost-complete tabula rasa. The sins of the decadence of the end of the Epstein era wiped clean, save one John Lackey, despite already having gotten those two big opportunities in 2011 and 2012, whether they worked out or not. Oh, and he got the Dodgers to throw in three legitimate prospects for the privilege.
Some will not like the move, because no deal is unanimously beloved, save Vernon Wells for Mike Napoli. But for most, especially those who were so opposed to Ben Cherington after the offseason, this has to earn Cherington some serious reconsideration.
So tell me, Red Sox fans, has Ben Cherington vindicated himself? Has he earned the opportunity to reinvest the money he just cleared up? Does he deserve the keys to the Ferrari? Or has he only proven himself as an adroit seller?