With all due respect to Ben Cherington, the next Red Sox GM, the franchise he takes over is in shambles as much as such an affluent franchise can be. Sure, the BoSox have money, prospects, and some really talented players - but they also have this whole debacle to deal with.
I wrote a few weeks ago when Francona left that it didn't seem like the Red Sox to do such a thing, but it sure looks like it is at this point. With Theo Epstein gone too, and David Ortiz all but gone - perhaps to the Yankees - it certainly feels like the door has shut on the era that finally broke the curse of the Bambino.
It's always good to keep moving forward. It's not always good to upset the apple cart.
Boston had a really good thing going. Even after one of the worst months a baseball team has ever had, they still had a really good thing going. Epstein and Francona were the duo that figured out how to end one of the most storied championship droughts in all of sports, and then followed up with an encore just three years later. They did not enjoy a prolonged run of playoff appearances like the Braves in the '90s, but they also had to compete against the Yankees, and more recently the Rays as well. Anyone that comes out of the AL East is a strong championship contender, simply due to the rigorous schedule they face.
There is much more than just baseball fueling these decisions. Francona has some significant personal issues to tend to off the field, so I can't imaging coming into a clubhouse filled with drama really excited him on a daily basis. When Epstein took Boston's vacant GM position, he controlled a cursed franchise with the resources to make history. Now, Boston is simply one of a handful of teams with lots of money to throw around. The perception of the Red Sox is different these days, which in turn made Theo's job different. Given that he is joining the Cubs, somewhere deep down he probably loves to play the role of curse-killer. Maybe it was inevitable that Epstein would walk away. Heck, he did for a few months back in 2005, so this really shouldn't have been all that surprising.
In the end though, it certainly looks like the central leaders that broke Boston's championship code are the ones who took the blame for their demise last month. For now, the trio that ate, drank, and played video games in the clubhouse during the collapse gets away free, but the two that at worst turned a blind eye take all the blame. I'm not about to proclaim Epstein and Francona guilt free, but if I was the owner of an organization, I know who I would keep if somebody had to go.
All good things come to an end, but it seems like Boston just let the greatest run they've ever had walk away. Cherington has been a hot GM prospect for years, and the cupboard is hardly bare for him as he takes over. On paper, he's in enviable position. In real life though, I'm not so sure. At least he gets to decide how to pick up the pieces of Boston's shattered September, but I wouldn't exactly call that a perk of the job.