Red Sox Insider: Flaws in offseason strategy already manifesting

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 8: Alex Cora #13 of the Boston Red Sox and Mike Lowell look on from the dugout during a game against Puerto Rico on March 8, 2023 at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 8: Alex Cora #13 of the Boston Red Sox and Mike Lowell look on from the dugout during a game against Puerto Rico on March 8, 2023 at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox started the 2023 season fairly well, especially in light of limited expectations after another lackluster (on the surface) offseason. Expectations were low due to the continued strategy of bottom-feeding for players.

This is exemplified by signing older players or those coming off serious injuries (or both). This happens rather than laying out available resources on the best players available and filling in the rest with solid scouting or players from the farm system.

The contention here has been that buying the best players possible with available resources is the best policy. The theory is that great or at least really good healthy players will probably perform well, like top players.

It’s risky business to try to fill a roster, especially of a big-market team with huge annual expectations with injury-risk players or older players. They will obviously be more susceptible to injury rather than players in their-prime players.

Boston Red Sox have already suffered an injury to a top performer

Making the suggestion that signing those players look pretty obtuse was the performance of outfielder Adam Duvall who began the season with a flaming hot bat. Unfortunately, an injury to his left wrist, the one that caused him to miss the end of last season and have surgery, has put his season on hold.

John Tomase of had this to say about the team’s strategy,

"It’s an indictment of the roster construction that the Red Sox lack capable alternatives at second, short, and center after placing such a priority on versatility and depth practically since the first day of Chaim Bloom’s stewardship…In other words, durability was never going to be this roster’s strength, and that’s before we even mention superstar third baseman Rafael Devers, who took a pitch off the wrist in the ninth on Sunday before shooing the trainers and staying in the game."

Tomase nailed it with this commentary as he usually does. It all goes back and comes down to roster construction strategy. What may work or have worked for the Tampa Bay Rays in the past, hasn’t for the Boston Red Sox for the past three going on four years.

If the owners actually put the clamps on the baseball operation to avoid the luxury tax, they’ve also put the clamps on winning titles.

They broomed the uncannily successful former President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski after a down (but still winning season) after having won three straight AL East titles and a World Series to boot. Go figure.

This absentee ownership, booed by their own fans at the usual winter love fest before the season, maybe doesn’t comprehend that patching team together while ironically still spending a lot of money on older and injured types probably ain’t going to get the job done.

Boston Red Sox have lost their way

These people are business people and good ones but they’re not baseball people. They did the right thing initially by hiring really good baseball people to run the operation and financing the team as a big-market team should. The results proved it to be a sound strategy. They won big.

Yet, after using his one down season to scapegoat Dombrowski, another last-place finish in 2023 will have turned the baseball results on their proverbial heads.

Running a big market team like Tampa Bay North has failed and looks like with the injury to Duvall the current version may just run aground again. Meanwhile, another injury acquisition before last season, James Paxton has yet to throw a pitch in anger for the Boston Red Sox after more than a year on the books.

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All of this adds up to one very disheartening pattern of money over great results (which ironically of course leads to making more money). Someone reversed the modus operandi and it may presage another collapse if the Duvall injury is serious.

It’s still early. Duvall may be OK and the other risky players may actually produce. Nevertheless, the premise on which these teams have been built even if they actually work on occasion as in 2021 is dysfunctional.

Next. Why 2023 Boston Red Sox offense is their most overpowering quality. dark

So Boston Red Sox Nation, don’t be at all surprised if the older and/or injury-risk players break down or get injured again. It is what it is as they say in Foxborough.

What it is for the Boston Red Sox is the potential of a third last-place finish in four years since kicking Dombrowski to the curb. Won’t it be just grand if we see last place, again? Not really.