It might have been Red Sox Winter Weekend, but team CEO Sam Kennedy was feeling the heat. After Kennedy and chief baseball officer Craig Breslow walked out to a chorus of boos this past weekend at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., Kennedy had some harsh words for those who are (justifiably) questioning the team's commitment to winning.
In a live radio interview from Springfield on Saturday, Kennedy and team chairman Tom Werner were asked about the narrative that the team's commitment to winning has wavered since the high-spending times of the 2000s and 2010s. Kennedy had a heated response:
"If you think for one second that we aren’t passionate, committed, dedicated to the Boston Red Sox, you’re wrong, you’re a liar, and I’ll correct you on it, because it’s total BS."- Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy
In early November, Werner vowed that the franchise would go "full throttle" this offseason. Boston's offseason has failed to live up to that promise, with moves made almost exclusively around the margins and reports that ownership had mandated the front office to a $225 million budget last season, despite the fact that the first Competitive Balance Tax threshold doesn't take effect until $237 million.
The Red Sox also reportedly told at least free agent that the team needed to shed more payroll before "pursuing him as aggressively as they want to", with Boston still $37 million shy of that threshold.
Add in reports that the team was listening to offers on two of their best (and highest-salaried) players in Kenley Jansen and Masataka Yoshida, frustration continues to boil for BoSox fans. After significant backlash from a fanbase that had a very different definition of full throttle,Werner issued an important clarification last week.
"Maybe that wasn't the most artful way of saying what I wanted to say, which is that we're going to be pressing all levers to improve the team."- Tom Werner to Sean McAdam of MassLive
"Full throttle" has become "pressing all levers", whatever that means.
During last year's winter weekend, principal owner John Henry and former chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom were also booed. Henry has continuously drawn the ire of Red Sox fans as of late,being subjected to boos during the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
With the expansion of Fenway Sports Group, which Henry and Werner founded, Boston fans have started to wonder if that expansion has shifted Henry and company's focus away from the Red Sox. Amongst several other properties, FSG also owns Liverpool F.C. and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Asked directly at last year's Winter Weekend if the Red Sox were still a priority given FSG's expansion, Henry scoffed at the answer, made a gesture to look at his watch, and allowed Kennedy to answer the question without saying a word.
Likely ducking the inevitablly hostile reception, Henry magically had a scheduling conflict for this year's edition of Winter Weekend. Red Sox' ownership has been rather abrasive in addressing growing questions about winning and a willingness to spend, which has only exacerbated the situation.
At this point, Boston's ownership can only rebuild trust with the fanbase through their actions in acquiring top talent and opening their checkbooks. Until then, their words ring hollow and their contentious attitude does nothing to reconcile with their passionate fanbase.
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