The Boston Red Sox offseason strategy is upside-down

Chairman of the Boston Red Sox Tom Werner and principle owner John Henry (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Chairman of the Boston Red Sox Tom Werner and principle owner John Henry (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox competed for a World Series berth last season before falling short in the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. It was a great season.

It was also unanticipated. They overachieved pre-season expectations by miles. The outgrowth of that nice performance would logically be to build upon the solid season they had in 2021 and add some quality players to the mix for 2022.

That would have been logical. Instead to date, however, the Red Sox and their Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom have taken backward steps that are as puzzling as they are likely counterproductive.

This is an upside-down strategy that needs to change immediately after the lockout ends with some astute moves by the baseball management.

The Boston Red Sox need to act like a big market team

Absent a change, it could be back to the basement a la 2020 and looking forward to another high draft pick. If you get too many of those, it just signifies that you stink.

The bogus trade of Hunter Renfroe, a nice fit in Boston who had a very good season, and replacing him with a more expensive, great glove-no bat player in Jackie Bradley Jr. was atrocious.

Red Sox apologists say it’s all about the prospects they acquired, those being Alex Binelas, a corner infielder deep in the depths of minor league ball, and David Hamilton, a 24-year-old (not exactly ‘young” in prospect terms) speedster. Sorry, that holds no water.

This team came within two wins of the World Series appearance in 2021. These prospects aren’t going to add a thing to the major league team in 2022. Prospects are crap-shoots anyway. It’s senseless to gamble when you are close to a World Series. That dysfunctional strategy will fail.

They also dished out big money in the aggregate to three pitchers, all of whom (aside from maybe Rich Hill) are question marks at best. When added to Bradley’s $12M salary, that’s roughly $35M that could have been used to bring in a top starting pitcher and more.

The catch-phrase of the bean-counters who own the Red Sox team is what is still somewhat in vogue in corporate-speak, “sustainability”.

In baseball terms, that means, let’s not spend the money we know we need to, hope some prospects work out, and bottom-feed in free agency with injured players or whatever to try to strike lightning in a bottle every year.

Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Even when “sustainability” is achieved, which is what is supposedly happening with the perennially low-spending Tampa Bay Rays, it hasn’t resulted in winning a World Series.

Yet, that strategy may make sense for the low-budget Rays. It’s not a big market team like the Boston Red Sox. They make do with what they have. That’s all well and dandy, but if you’re a big-market team, it’s a totally flawed strategy.

Boston Red Sox ownership needs to step up or sell the team

The space has taken the Red Sox ownership to task for seemingly tying the hands of Bloom by closing the coffers of the big money they make every year and not re-investing it in the team.

They scapegoated the last baseball chief, Dave Dombrowski, who won three straight Divisional crowns in a row and capped it all off by winning the World Series in 2018.

Less than a year later, in a disgraceful move, the ownership kicked Dombrowski to the curb at the end of one down season, primarily due to pitching staff injuries.

This was merely a convenient excuse to tighten the purse strings on the baseball operation and thereby squeeze more profit out of the Red Sox at the expense of the team’s quality and its fans.

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After the lockout, Red Sox fans will see what this team is made of. They’ll learn whether it is now resigned to tying Bloom’s hands financially or getting real, acting like a big club, and making significant moves to improve the team that came so close to a World Series last season.

Bloom’s moves to date are ominous signals. They’re ill-conceived and appear counterproductive. Yet, there’s still time after the lockout ends to act as the Boston Red Sox should. If they don’t, hopefully, the owners will sell the team to someone who will. Let’s see what they do.