Things may be looking up for the Boston Red Sox after all.

Boston has stumbled through a dreadful losing season this year after having the worst collapse in history last September.

The team fired manager Terry Francona, hired Bobby Valentine and was the butt of jokes during the off-season for players eating fried chicken and drinking before games during the September swoon.

It got worse this season as the Sox stumbled out of the gates, fell into last place and haven’t look good ever since.

As the season wore on, many fans noticed that Carl Crawford was turning into the biggest bust in Red Sox history. He became a Red Sox player last year, signed a $142 million contract, then didn’t produce results before seriously injuring his arm.

Boston also signed the San Diego Padres big-hit man Adrian Gonzalez to a large contract last season, only to see him melt under the heat of the Boston pressure and not perform like he did prior to coming to New England.

Then there was Josh Beckett. The big-time pitcher helped Boston win a World Series title in 2007, but suddenly looked like a shell of his former self. By all accounts, he was a cancer in a fractious clubhouse, and he began pitching like an overpaid buffoon. In his past six starts, he had an ERA above 5.27. Those are not good numbers for a staff’s No. 5 pitcher, let alone its No. 2 pitcher, which Beckett claimed to be.

Well, fans can now smile a little larger in this tumultuous season as the Boston Red Sox ownership finally made a move. On Saturday, the Red Sox traded Crawford, Gonzalez and Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a nine-player trade that also included Nick Punto. It was the perfect time to send the foursome away from Beantown.

Crawford and Gonzalez were good guys, by all accounts, but they couldn’t take the pressure in Boston. It made sense to unload them to a team that doesn’t have the same pressure on it to win and doesn’t play in the same division as the New York Yankees.

Gonzalez will probably thrive in L.A. and Crawford could turn back to his former self now that they can both just focus on baseball instead of all the off-field issues that come with playing in Boston. Fans in L.A. love their team, but Red Sox fans don’t settle for mediocre.

Letting go of Crawford and Gonzalez also signals that the Red Sox are thinking seriously about the future of the club. A team that since 2004 has won two World Series and was in first place in the beginning of September last season, doesn’t like to lose consistently.

No one knows what happened to Beckett. A pitcher who was dominant only a few years ago suddenly lost his ability to command a baseball game. Theories abound as to his problem. Was it attitude? Was it weight gain? Was it that he and his wife had a baby last year and he no longer cared as much about the game? No one knows, but he is no longer the Red Sox’ problem.

Despite each players’ history, the atmosphere was toxic and something needed to be done.

At the end of the season, there will be more changes made in Boston, which could include the firing of Valentine, the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury, and getting rid of John Lackey and other under-performing players. For now, though, the reshaping process has begun, bringing the Sox closer to getting back on track.

Ӣ Ӣ Ӣ

Today’s editorial was written by Sports Editor Al Edwards representing the majority opinion of the Journal Tribune Editorial Board. Questions? Comments? Contact Managing Editor Kristen Schulze Muszynski by calling 282-1535, Ext. 322, or via email at [email protected].