The Issue(s) in Boston
The Red Sox have found themselves in perhaps the worst off season in franchise history, or at least since they started selling and trading all of their stars including Babe Ruth in the 1920’s.
It’s always tough to fire a General Manager but firing a GM just a year removed from a World Series title is even worse and frankly bizarre. That’s what Sox ownership decided to do by firing David Dombrowski after their abysmal 2019 campaign. They hired the former Senior VP of Baseball operations in Tampa, Chaim Bloom. Bloom is highly regarded as a smart, young, mind in baseball but was put in a pretty awful spot when Alex Cora was implicated as the mastermind in the Astros sign stealing scheme and cover up while he was the bench coach in Houston in 2017. After the Astros relieved their manager, AJ Hinch, and GM, Jeff Luhnow, of their duties. Boston felt as if they had to do the same. Out went Cora. In came some more uncertainty.
Bloom’s next impossible task was to deal with Mookie Betts. The former AL MVP was set to be a free agent next year and the rumor was Boston was unwilling to pay him the 400 million plus he wanted. This was the first huge problem. The Boston Red Sox are one of the wealthiest organizations in all of sports. Mookie Betts is one of the top three best players in baseball. This was a perfect marriage. Betts was a fan favorite and the face of the franchise. He should’ve played his best years in Boston. But instead the Red Sox, multi-billionaire owner, John Henry, refused to pay him his worth. This is a huge issue, not just for Red Sox Nation but for baseball in general. Big market teams need to spend their money, if the Yankees and Dodgers are the only teams spending big money to get big name free agents and stars, competition will plummet. Owners make millions of dollars every year from their teams and elsewhere. The more they invest in the franchise the more they’ll get back. But Henry seems more concerned with his NASCAR partnership and his Premier League soccer team, Liverpool, than he is with the Red Sox. And yes, I’m aware the decision to move Mookie was to also get underneath the luxury tax threshold but that is absolutely no excuse to not resign him.
The problem with all the moves the Red Sox have made is that no one will check them on it. People will still go to Fenway as they do every summer and Boston, a city once known for its relentless sports media, has become soft. This is largely due to John Henry’s purchase of the Boston Globe. The writers at the Globe are scared to write hard hitting pieces being critical of the Sox because they know how easily replaceable they are. If they are asking questions Henry doesn’t like he’ll simply find someone who won’t ask. And the local sports radio and TV stations don’t want to lose the Sox due to the large amounts of money they bring in. In many regards, the Red Sox are getting a pass.
Last Tuesday, it was reported that Mookie Betts and David Price were headed to the Dodgers in exchange for Alex Verdugo and Twins pitcher Brusador Graterol. The Red Sox received backlash from the national news outlets for not getting enough back. And conveniently enough, Boston team doctors had a problem with Graterol’s physical which caused the trade to be voided. Red Sox ownership after hearing the public’s opinion on the trade stepped in and tried to kill the initial trade any way possible. They did this via Graterol’s physical. Sunday it was reported the deal had been restructured sending Betts and Price to LA and Verdugo and Top 50 MLB.com prospect, Jeter Downs. This is ridiculous on so many levels. So I’ll start with the obvious – they had the most complete player in franchise history just coming into his peak years, and they traded him…TWICE! Second, ownership should never step in as much as John Henry and company do. They stepped way too far into Chaim Bloom’s territory, shooting down his first big move as GM due to some backlash? They hired Bloom to do a job and they need to let him do it.
The Sox also are planning on hiring Ron Roenicke to be their manager but are waiting for the MLB to pass out its punishment for the Sox 2018 sign stealing scandal before making it official. Roenicke is an experienced skipper, managing the Brewers from 2011-2015 and serving as a third base coach for both the Angels and Dodgers. This is a weak move again by the Sox. Roenicke isn’t the guy that can lead them to the World Series or even the playoffs. He was just the easy hire to prevent questions or unrest in the fan base.
These missteps by the Red Sox will benefit someone though, and that is the rest of the AL East, in particular the Bronx Bombers. The Red Sox offense without Mookie Betts is now far less dynamic than it was in 2019. The loss of David Price will force inexperienced pitchers to take the mound all season long in an attempt to replace him. This will help the Yankees not only all year long but over the course of the next several years. Yankees fans should look forward to being able to beat up on the Sox multiple times a year.
The Red Sox have told their fans they don’t care about winning this year with the Betts trade, so they should start overhauling what is left from 2018 and moving into the future. Be prepared for the Red Sox to sell at the trade deadline. And be prepared for more strange, unexplainable moves as long as Henry is in charge in Boston.