Red Sox management failure doomed 2017 season

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Torey Lovullo
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Torey Lovullo /

The Boston Red Sox wake has begun and will continue to spring training. The team needed power and never did what everyone expected – get a home run bat.

In the asylum on Yawkey Way, or whatever Boston Red Sox owner John Henry wishes to call it, I question if there is anyone that examines the makeup of players and that is not the game-day mascara. Seems this crew that has been dumped upon us has an excitement quotient of watching fruit flies mate. The first Hemlock should be ingested anyone remotely associated with baseball operations. Hint, guys, your team is as exciting as an afternoon of watching wet cement dry. But the big problem is a dynamic power hitter.

The national pastime is not baseball, football, or even reality television, but finger-pointing. Finger pointing is now raised to an art form in politics and has caught up to sports in that long-cherished method of rationalization. Sports has a large measure of emotion and that generally easily overwhelms facts, but emotions and facts can certainly be intertwined. My own finger-pointing is directed towards Dave Dombrowski, who is the majordomo of baseball operations.

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I could call Dombrowski an idiot and that is harsh, immature and unwarranted, but it is still out there. Since part of finger-pointing is a subset known as the blame game and the issue that I will eventually wander to will be a team management effort. What this is all about is not signing Edwin Encarnacion. They failed and its ramifications of the lineup need go no further than a comparison glance of run production in 2016 versus 2017.

The real issue for me is simply consumer fraud perpetrated on Red Sox fans by an ownership that makes Equifax look like the faculty of Harvard Business School. The dunderheads make money – great, but when you ring up the list of epic failures such as Rusney Castillo, Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, and a few others one would be better off buying a scratch ticket than a Red Sox ticket. Then they collectively cheap out on what was necessary. So, DD may just be the messenger, but he is still the front man.

The big missing piece was David Ortiz and his 38 home runs and league-leading 127 RBI. Ortiz also led the league in doubles (48), OPS (1.021) and slugging (.620). The Red Sox reportedly had this sudden urge at budget restraint and a pathological fear of the luxury tax so other options were examined.

The most obvious was Mitch Moreland and to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: “Moreland is no Ortiz.” The other piece of this management jigsaw puzzle was a continued upwards directory of the talent now on the roster. Just how that worked out is obvious with a glance at the statistics with special emphasis on home runs – the Red Sox were dead last.

Sometimes fans and the media are smarter than the guys in charge.  Virtually all were uniformly adamant that a big bat was needed and that was Encarnacion. Ortiz had even proselytized during the season for Encarnacion to be his heir apparent for a designated hitter. The Red Sox no doubt had qualms about age and salary, but market conditions intervened and the salary became more palatable. The Indians paid $75 Million spread over four years and had just what Boston been missing.

Looking at blunders during the season by players and management usually has hindsight as a factor that can make finger-pointing and collective angst making one and all look like Nostradamus. But in this instance, hindsight was not necessary as the preseason, during the season, during the playoffs the bellowing had a consistent theme of they screwed this one up.

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There are two types of mistakes – those that cannot be corrected and those that can be corrected. If by my neglect, foolishness or carelessness I manage to hit a perfectly innocent dog with my Silverado that cannot be corrected. I live with the consequences, but with the failure to address a need for a power bat – that offers redemption and the opportunity to correct.

Redemption time is upon Red Sox management and the statistical obvious is shining like the Kenmore Square Citgo sign. This is the major offseason problem and the free agents will be looked at, trades projected, free agents, to be in 2019 looked at and ever baseball rock overturned to find anyone that can hit the ball out of the yard with consistent authority.

Without that productive home run bat, the Red Sox will continue to falter since the game is played differently today. No more scratching for a run or two. The focus on bullpens has certainly changed pitching and the Red Sox tried in that direction, but the big bat still is missing. If 2018 starts with no power of note it will be back to just miss the playoffs or a quick exit.

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The focus is on the manager and John Farrell may be replaced, but Dombrowski also has a staggering payroll and a 1-5 playoff record. Maybe the focus should not be on the field level, but on the second deck box overlooking the field.