There's been a great deal of buzz surrounding the Johnny Damon incident. Many are speculating that if Theo Epstein were the Red Sox General Manager, we would have been able to sign Damon. I don't think this is necessarily true. However, I do think we would be in a better situation than we are in if Theo were still here.
If the Red Sox were absolutely not willing to pay the same amount of money as the Yankees, then whoever the GM was wouldn't matter. Damon would have signed with them. However, the Red Sox brass have often showed tendencies to enter into bidding wars with the Yankees (See: Jose Contreras). Given John Henry's and Larry Luchino's obsession with the Yankees, they probably would have been willing to enter into a bidding war with New York. They at least would have made an offer to Damon matching the Yankees offer. But this didn't happen.
The Red Sox put an offer on the table in front of Damon and Scott Boras. Then they got up and left. They probably went to go argue with Doug Mienktiewicz about the World Series ball, place a few phone calls to Dan Shaughnessey about the current Sox GMs, and find places in Fenway to stick 50 seats in. Menawhile, Boras and Damon went to the Yankees. The Yankees didn't create any deadlines. They did, however, mention that they were looking at other players as replacements. The Red Sox did no such thing. They completely mishandled their negotiations just as they mishandled their negotiations with Theo. People will complain that the Yankees simply swept in with more money and stole Damon from us. We let them take him though. Neither one of the Sox GMs, nor Larry Luchino contacted Boras or Damon after the offer was put on the table.
One of the things about MLB GMs is that they establish communication networks. They have ways of getting information. In their business, information is power. Theo had a system of collecting information. Other baseball executives have complimented him because he seemed to be trying to be a part of every deal that went down. Theo probably would have known that Boras was talking to the Yankees. If he had not been able to make a deal with Damon in competition with the Yankees, he would have at least been able to sign a replacement like Kenny Lofton.
Now the Red Sox are in a bad, bad situation. Free agent outfielders were few and far between before Tuesday and now they are even fewer. There are trades possible, but every team knows we're in desperate need of a center fielder and a leadoff hitter. This means we'll have to overpay and give up more than we should have to. Theo would not have allowed us to be in this situation.
During his press conference, Larry Luchino bragged about how much money the Red Sox have available to spend. Did anyone bother to ask him what is out there for the Red Sox to spend money on? I see Roger Clemens, who is probably going to retire, as the only thing out there to spend much money on. And if the Red Sox don't spend money and get a short-stop better than Alex Cora, then they will have proven, to me at least, that they're a bunch of greedy misers that wanted to line their own pockets before they put out a winning team.