First of all, with regard to Lucchino--he has a long-term contract (10 years?), AND he had it written into his contract at the start that he gets final say on all baseball decisions. He is also good at (or at least enjoys...) the parts of the business that John Henry hates. So in some ways JH is stuck.
As I understand it--and this is entirely plausible to me--Lucchino and Charles Steinberg took exception to a story praising Theo in the Herald on Thursday. So they went to one of the people they feed, Shaughnessy. (Did you know that Shaughnessy's daughter has an internship in Werner's LA company? Probably not coincidental, you think?) Shaughnessy obligingly printed material critical of Theo on Sunday. (This is SOP for the Sox front office, of course--witness the stories leaked, often through Shaughnessy, about Nomar, and Pedro, and Minky-and-the-ball, and even Manny this year.)
Up through this point Theo may have been playing a money game--he was seriously lowballed on the initial offer and you can't blame him for holding out for more. But I think when this strategy came out--smiling at the table but fighting the battle in the press--I think Theo thought, you know, this isn't worth it. I've seen Lucchino behave this way all along. I don't want three more years of this.
You know how 9/11 made you rethink a lot of things? I think Theo's brother's work does that for him sometimes. I think it reminds him that there are bigger things out there than baseball, and maybe the baseball job isn't worth your heart and soul if it means putting up with sniping and backstabbing. I think that knowing that Lucchino had the right to meddle was bad enough, but Theo could have dealt with that. It was the fact that the guy to whom he was going to report had so little regard for him that he stabbed him in the back during contract negotiations. And then the Globe went so far as to print that the deal was done!
Theo is bright and personable and accomplished what he set out to do. Of all the times for him to walk away, this was it.
I don't mean to imply that I think Theo is a saint or that he is irreplaceable, but I do think that Lucchino has poisoned the well for anyone as bright and independent as Theo. And I think that Lucchino didn't really have to compromise his ego all that much to keep a guy who was a relative bargain and had proven he could do the job here. Even if we get someone "as good as" Theo, it's almost like giving up Cabrera for Renteria--why give away a guy who has proven he can survive in Boston in exchange for someone who's never tried it?
I'm glad the players haven't been shy about how much they will miss Theo.
I'll be interested to hear what Theo says at his press conference tomorrow.
You're right--it's still hard to believe.
I can't say that Theo said anything to make me reconsider the above. Theo was careful not to say a lot of things--and if you take him at his word, and eliminate all the things he said were NOT the case, I think what you're left with is that something changed for him in the last days of the negotiations, and that there are aspects of the business that made it impossible for him to give his heart and soul. And I still believe that what that means is that something went awry with the integrity of the team's support of him, something that was at minimum expressed in Lucchino and Steinberg giving what they gave to Shaughnessy.
John Henry is a smart guy. It was the right thing for him to take the podium himself to defend Lucchino. He just did a big dance around the word "trust," though. I think that he did everything he could to keep Theo, but I think he also believes in Lucchino and believes that what Lucchino brings to the table is necessary for the team's success.
There are always parts of the business of baseball that we wish we didn't have to confront. Maybe the best example for us as fans is when an agent we hate tries to get a good deal for a player we love, from a team we love. We look away and try to pretend it's not happening until it's over. I think Theo couldn't look away from the ugly side of the Sox business anymore.
HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD--it's Tom Caron's evil twin! Where did that facial hair come from?!