After losing more than 20 games in September and losing a playoff slot, a team is always going to be under much scrutiny. Especially after the manager and GM with that team had been there since 2004 and are now gone. Especially when the team that happened to collapse happens to be in Boston.
Yes, everyone knows by now that the Red Sox collapsed in epic fashion. Theo Epstein soon bolted to the Chicago Cubs, and left the Red Sox with rookie general manager Ben Cherington. His start in Boston was not so hot, after he was undermined by team president Larry Luchinno in the manager search. His managerial choice, Dale Sveum, ended up in Chicago with Epstein, while big personality Bobby Valentine is now in Boston, a controversial choice.
After that was cleared up, Cherington made two moves. He signed back up catcher Kelly Shoppach, utility infeilder Nick Punto. Not exactly the most aggressive approach, though both moves served needs. Shoppach will play behind Jarrod Salatlamacchia and Punto will replace Jed Lowrie.
Soon after, Cherington traded for Houston Astros closer Mark Melancon. He gave up Lowrie and pitching prospect Kyle Weiland. Not bad moves at all, but in a big market still wounded from collapse, just not good enough.
If Cherington was not good enough even with those smart yet small moves, he should be now. He has pulled off a trade that sends Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey and he gave up Josh Reddick, Raul Arcantara and Miles Head. While Reddick played the majority of right field in 2011, the other two are still far from the MLB.
The Red Sox also get Ryan Sweeney, projected to play right field this season. This is a trade that can be considered a win for the Red Sox, and it was Cherington's doing. Does he finally prove his worth in Boston? Is the looming shadow of Epstein now gone?