Sunday, August 26, 2012

Organizational Behavior

The top leader in the organization is replaced.  The faces around you on the team begin to change.  The organization, in the words of management, is ‘going in a different direction.’  New strategies are drawn up, a new playbook is devised.  The organization begins to lose the previous players as the work load and game plans shift to new leadership, who wish to bring in their own players.  All normal organizational behavior over a period of time.

Except with the Boston Red Sox.  They have to be more dramatic.

A friend and I traveled to Fenway Park last Thursday for a game against the Anaheim Angels (sorry, can’t use the other name).  By the end of the second inning, the Sox led 6-0 and appeared in control.  The Angels scored 8 runs in the top of the third, and the roller coaster began.  The game was marked by poor fielding, lousy pitching, a questionable home run, and a ton of runs scored with two outs.  In the fifth inning, my friend opined that the game would end up 13-12; that was the score at some point in the ninth inning, but it mercifully ended after ten innings with California winning, 14-13.

This was a watershed moment for the Sox, and the final straw for management.  They are not making the playoffs this year, and wedges in the locker room have appeared as a number of players apparently met with ownership to complain about first-year manager Bobby Valentine.

So by Saturday morning, management cleaned house.  In a dramatic move (even for drama-obsessed Red Sox Nation), key components of the team were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers – power-hitter Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, starter Josh Beckett, and backup infielder Nick Punto.

The General Manager termed the trade a salary adjustment; the three primary players represented a huge chunk of their payroll.  He determined the team was not going to win with them, so the trade gives the team more payroll to work with during the off-season.

But the true message here is about who is in charge.  Before Saturday morning, this was not Bobby Valentine’s team.  Gonzalez, Beckett, Punto (and backup catcher Kelly Stoppach, who was banished two weeks ago) were all part of the group grousing about Valentine’s methods.  I can envision Valentine going to management and saying, I can’t win with these guys.  You hired me to bring Boston back to the World Series; it won’t happen with this group.  Let me put my type of players on the field.

Basic organizational transitions happen in baseball as anywhere else.  New management, new leadership, new direction.  Out with the old.   It generally takes longer than a few days.

Of course, I could be wrong.  Someone pointed out to me that the final proof will be if Bobby is still there when the 2013 season begins next April.

If he’s not, the overhaul will take another new direction with a different team.