Dear Boston Red Sox,
Here we are at long, uncomfortable, last.
We have arrived in the Post-Papi world of Baseball in Boston.
It’s an uncertain future to be met without the hallmark of your brand for the past 14 seasons, and yet also with the bright horizon of perhaps the best young nucleus in all of baseball.
As you enter this winter’s negotiations, meetings and trade talks, I have just one thing to say:
Don’t do it.
Don’t do the thing we all know you’re thinking of doing.
Don’t try to replace him.
Don’t try to fill his shoes, subsidize his bat, replicate his production or substitute that intangible, jubilant magnetism of his character and leadership.
There is no calculable amount of money that can be spent, no worthy recipient of such a contract, that can possibly take that unbearable torch and run with it.
That torch was crafted and honed by the broad shoulders who bore it. It wasn’t meant to be carried by anyone else.
Oh, there are lucrative names to be had out there.
We see them too.
Bats potentially charged with the lightning bolts of legends.
But they won’t be what you need them to be.
They won’t be who we need them to be.
In attempting to finagle your way through this new reality, don’t forget how you found him.
He wasn’t a big name. He was barely a name at all.
You took a chance on him, waited until there was a defined role for him, and then he took you to places you’d only previously dreamed.
Look among the currently anonymous.
Look among your own ranks, even (Cough, cough … Sam Travis??).
The next Boston icon will be found there — not in Toronto, or Colorado, or Anaheim.
Look at your splashy moves, and how they have panned out (or didn’t pan out, as the case may more often be), and then look at your own patience plays — your Wrights, Bradleys, Bogaertses, Bettses and even, surprisingly, your Buchholzes.
Therein, and in the like, lies your future.
Don’t do it, Boston.
Don’t open up the wallet for someone else’s guy.
Save it, and spend it on your guy.
When you find him, that is.