The Boston Red Sox dismal season’s end can’t come fast enough for the legion of fans who have had to suffer through another last-place finish of what could have been, should have been a contending team in the American League East.
Lots of questions are outstanding for the BoSox ownership and management as they sit a confounding 22 games behind the New York Yankees. The urge to say arch-rival New York Yankees was forgone as there was no rivalry of any kind this season for the two former arch-foes.
The Yankees have run away with the American League East almost from the starting gate while the stumbling and bumbling Red Sox have foundered at virtually every opportunity. And Boston’s season was arguably over early.
The Red Sox went from Cinderellas in 2021 to doormats in 2022. What are the major questions facing the team as it tries to once again dig out from under all four other AL East foes, including the perennially hapless Baltimore Orioles?
Here are a few of them.
The Boston Red Sox leadership has to be called on the carpet
The buck always stops with the Chief Baseball Officer, in this case, Chaim Bloom. You can’t move on from ownership (though a sale by the current FSG would be a welcome sight, indeed in this space). So Bloom has to be in the eye of the storm after this pitiful display of a 2022 season.
Bloom’s creation has fallen from two games shy of a World Series berth to the floor of the AL East in a mere matter of months. A guy who built and won a World Series had less time after winning the biggest prize before he got his pink slip.
Dave Dombrowski was summarily jettisoned by the fickle absentee ownership, Fenway Sports Group, ostensibly now based in Liverpool, England with their highly successful English football team. Dombrowski got the rawest of raw deals from that ungrateful group.
With that in mind, Bloom has to be on the hot seat since he didn’t bring the big prize home in his now three years at the helm of the Sox. After the masterclass construction of an ALCS participating team in 2021, Bloom has to be called on the carpet for de-constructing the same squad in the 2022 off-season.
The two most egregious errors were undoing two of his three best moves from the 2021 offseason. He traded uber-productive right fielder Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee and inexplicably brought back the weak-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley flopped and was later designated for assignment. Renfroe has 28 home runs and 69 RBIs for the Brew Crew.
He also failed to re-sign the hitter who fit the Boston Red Sox, Boston, Fenway, Waltham, and the Fenway Faithful like a glove. He should have been a priority signing. That would be Kyle Schwarber who signed with Philadelphia. “Fit” in sports, a player who blends in seamlessly with a city and team often leads to finish, as in good finishes. Schwarber was just that.
The now Phillie rewarded the Philadelphia club for signing him by hitting 42 home runs to date with 87 RBIs. That was serious offensive production sorely lacking in the 2022 version of the BoSox. Together Renfroe and Schwarber have accounted for 70 home runs and 156 RBIs.
Make what you will about how valuable that would have been to Boston. In addition, injuries and the failure to remedy shortcomings by trade or otherwise, crushed the Red Sox, especially in the pitching department.
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An injury-riddled starting staff and a poorly performing bullpen were major contributors to the team’s ultimate undoing. Also, the team’s marquee signing, Trevor Story, a shortstop they transformed into a second baseman, was riddled with injuries as well this season.
In addition to Bloom’s status, the contractual situations of Boston’s two best players, Xander Bogaerts and Raphael Devers are also in question. Bloom has failed to lock up either to long-term deals.
Bogaerts can opt out of his contract after the season and Devers will be a free agent after 2023. Bloom has to sort these two issues out one way or another, and soon if he’s still around to undo the mess he himself helped create.
So there are just a few of the questions that will face the Boston Red Sox management after this dreadful season mercifully ends on October fifth. Whether it’s Bloom or another Chief Baseball Officer, the task will be a daunting one.
It’s never easy to take a team from last place to first, but that’s exactly what die-hard Red Sox fans will be looking for. Will the owners pay the freight and can management deliver? We’ll see this off-season. One thing is crystal clear, that’s where championship teams are built.