The Boston Red Sox like all teams in baseball isn’t infallible in personnel management or mismanagement, as the case may be. They all make mistakes. Some are doozies.
One Sox gaffe last offseason that keeps on hurtin’ however is the case of Kyle Schwarber, the first baseman/DH/outfielder, much of a hit-than-field type guy. Detractors argued that he wasn’t good enough defensively to spend serious money on.
Let’s take look at how those observations played out and Schwarber’s 2022 season and now offseason to prove the Red Sox missed the boat big-time on this great hitter.
Boston Red Sox missed completely on Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber was obtained by Boston at the trade deadline in August of 2021 from the Washington Nationals. This was less of a trade than a gift from Washington. Schwarber had a minor injury but prior his last healthy month’s production was an eye-popper, as si.com pointed out,
"Schwarber, 28, had a record-setting June for the Nationals, hitting 16 home runs in 18 days, but then injured his hamstring on July 3 and has missed the last three-plus weeks. He is expected back in early August, but no firm date is in place."
Boston’s Chief Baseball officer Chaim Bloom hit a home run. The cost in trade for Boston was only minor league pitcher Aldo Ramirez. His big bat and clutch hitting helped the Red Sox to an unanticipated exciting run into the ALCS before losing to the Houston Astros.
It was a great ride while it lasted and Schwarber had a nice role in it. He hit .291 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 41 games and many of those hits were big hits. He seemed a likely if not a lock candidate for signing a contract extension.
Boston loved Schwarber and Schwarber liked Boston (and Waltham), as well. Then, the wheels fell off the trolley and the Red Sox made their biggest mistake of the disastrous 2021-22 offseason.
The Boston Red Sox cardinal error: Undoing one of their best moves of 2021
A prime sports precept should be, to build on the prior year’s strengths. That seems logical. But instead, the Boston Red Sox took a different tack. The DH rule to the National League enhanced the value of DH-types like Schwarber.
Instead of rising to the new challenge and value of such a player, the Sox bowed out of the race (if they were ever actually in it). Schwarber did the logical, he took a nice deal from Philadelphia. At about $20M per year, he proved to be a monster bargain.
If this poor move was the result of the penuriousness of the Sox ownership is really immaterial. This was simply bad baseball decision-making pure and simple. The Sox knew he had massive power ability. They knew he could use it at Fenway despite its long dimensions in the right field. And also importantly, he not only fit the team but the City as well.
In the prime of his career at 28 years old, he wanted a shorter-term contract at maybe a higher-than-anticipated annual salary, exactly the type of deal the Sox should be signing. It was a marriage made in heaven until it wasn’t.
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The Sox punted and the rest is history. Schwarber helped lead the Phillies to the World Series. He hit a monstrous 46 home runs, with 94 RBIs and he scored 100 runs. While he hit only .218, is anyone in Philly complaining about that? Think not. And he’s continued his tear in the post-season.
Thus far he’s continued to knock the cover off the baseball. Sportingnews.com notes,
"Schwarber has lit up the scoreboard during October (and now November), accounting for four home runs in the Phillies’ last 10 playoff games after going hitless in the first four. Ironically enough, he ranks just third in the team in playoff homers — Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins each have six dingers so far.However, when it comes to distance covered via the long ball, no one has Schwarber beat. He doesn’t tend to get cheated when he gets good wood on the ball, a fact he showcased in Game 1 of the NLCS."
All in all, Schwarber has proven that the Red Sox for whatever reason made one of if not the biggest blunders of the offseason in passing on him. The result along with several other dubious moves was predictable, a last-place finish.
So it’s on to 2023 for the baseball operation. Good luck and let’s make some good moves to get this team back well, to being at least relevant again. The first thing to do is sign Aaron Judge. That would be a good place to start.