By Terry Cushman – @AVIDBOS_PODCAST
When David Price arrived in Boston, my immediate concern aside from his dismal post season record, was his potential to become as embattled with the local Boston media as Josh Beckett was. Horrifically, he greatly exceeded even Beckett’s level.
David Price’s leadership of the Red Sox clubhouse wasn’t immediately apparent. Fans across Red Sox Nation all assumed Dustin Pedroia was the heir to take over that very role from David Ortiz’, and the rest of the clubhouse would fall in line behind him. It wasn’t until days after a brief spat between Price and Dennis Eckersley on a charter plane was it apparent that David Price was unequivocally the leader of this team. The incident became an international embarrassment to Red Sox. Even more shockingly, several high profile players applauded Price’s verbal assault on the highly respected hall of famer.
The critical question now is: How powerful is David Price? What makes it critical is that his power could go well beyond his title of “leader.” Especially if the majority of the team ardently supports him and his actions over anyone in the front office, namely Dave Dombrowski.
Dombrowski is by now balls deep into his search for a new manager. Unlike any other teams looking for a manager (Detroit, Philadelphia, NYM to name a few), the Red Sox have a distinct advantage in that they are built to win now. They could conceivably win the 2018. On the flip side however, the Red Sox are a complex team with group of big personalities who have been no strangers to controversy at one point or another. The potential for things to “blow up” next year is very strong. The possibility that this managerial job could be short lived for whoever takes it on is very real. I have a couple candidates for this managerial opening that I really like. But generally speaking, I am very open minded as to who Dombrowski chooses to hire.
The primary risk for whoever assumes this role, is will the Red Sox clubhouse reject him? As an individual, David Price has never been one take accountability for his own actions. He is highly combative, and does not receive criticism well at all. If an entire team embraces his antics, it could make effectively managing this Red Sox team nearly impossible. In about 16 weeks, that new manager will stroll into spring training with a brand new coaching staff. All of Red Sox Nation will hone in to see how smooth the transition ends up being.
I have asked myself, “What happens if things go awry? How can David Price be reigned in and held accountable?” I’m not convinced the new manager and coaching staff can handle it. I’m not even convinced the front office can intervene and restore order. So who can? Perhaps a past legend like David Ortiz? Jason Varitek? Pedro Martinez? Surely the last thing they want to see is Price disgracing the same uniform they wore so proudly. Any sharp criticism or condemnation will resonate very strong with Red Sox fans. The other possibility is that an existing or incoming player can overthrow Price’s leadership.
The stakes are high for Dombrowski. Trading David Price simply isn’t viable. His health is too questionable, and his contract is too large. Suspending him could blow up in Dombrowski’s face if it results in an uproar among his teammates. Not to mention the negative optics for rival executives, or the national media on the outside looking in. If the team under performs, or chemistry continues to be a hindrance to the point which the Red Sox miss the 2018 playoffs, it’s almost a guarantee Dombrowski will be fired by John Henry & Tom Werner. Ben Cherington lost his job only a season and a half after winning the god damn World Series. Dave Dombrowski will have been here almost a the same amount of time, decimated most of the farm system, and only won a single playoff game. He will certainly be as good as gone. So the stakes are indeed very high.
David Price had long voiced his disdain for Red Sox fans and the city of Boston before he ever signed here. He has continued those tirades against us these last couple of years since signing that very contract. And in a sick stroke of irony, he is now the LEADER of this team. Nearly all Red Sox players, and a small faction of our fans are actually okay with it. How fucked up is that? How did this happen?