When the Boston Red Sox dumped fried chicken aficionado Josh Beckett on the Dodgers along with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and more than $250 million in impending salaries, the message could not have been clearer if they had raised a white flag of surrender from the centerfield pole where the 2004 and '07 World Series pennants had flown.
They were giving up on 2012.
Although there were some loose ends to tie up — namely, the final three dozen meaningless games of the season — the year effectively ended on Aug. 24, when Gonzalez was scratched from the lineup of a game against the Kansas City Royals. The next day, the three high-priced but underperforming players were shipped to Los Angeles and general manager Ben Cherington explained, "It gives us an opportunity to build the next great Red Sox team."
Cherington's work can begin in earnest now that the regular season is over and the Red Sox have missed the playoffs for the third year in a row. And the first decision for him is whether to bring manager Bobby Valentine back for a second try after things went so miserably wrong in his first.