When the Boston Red Sox introduced Kenley Jansen to the media on Tuesday afternoon, they had to know they’d get asked as many questions (if not more) about a player who’d just left as the one arriving.
After all, no one from the Sox made any kind of statement after Xander Bogaerts signed a jaw-dropping 11-year contract with the San Diego Padres last week. The social team shared a brief, oddly upbeat highlight reel that didn’t fit the gravity of the situation, and that was it. Bogaerts didn’t get traded a la Jon Lester and Mookie Betts, but he was with the organization longer than either of them and never planned to leave until the Sox made the environment so unwelcoming that he was forced to explore other options.
Radio silence compounded the situation, though anything short of ‘We just extended Rafael Devers and found the Fountain of Youth for David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez!’ wouldn’t cut it, anyway. But when CEO/President Sam Kennedy fielded questions on Tuesday, his answers were the usual nothing-burger, which didn’t help the situation in the slightest:
"“I try not to look back. You can really harm yourself and harm your plan and harm decision-making if you get too caught up in regrets in the past or any type of fear of the future. I don’t engage in any of those two activities. I don’t focus on regrets of the past and I don’t worry about the things I can’t control in the future. What we’re trying to do in the moment is make the right decisions for the Boston Red Sox.”via MassLive"
The brass must look back (it’s hard to believe they don’t), not to regret per se but to realize how important it is to learn from several notable mistakes, many of which are just iterations of the same bad decision. Didn’t everyone learn that George Santayana aphorism in junior high?
Right decisions are few and far between for this organization over the last several years. Trading Lester only to pay David Price. Lowballing David Ortiz every time his contract was up while throwing money at Carl Crawford and Pablo Sandoval. Jumping the shark on a Chris Sale extension in 2019 instead of getting a deal done with Betts. Then Bogaerts. Maybe Rafael Devers.
If Kennedy and the Sox truly want to make the right decisions going forward – and they’re in a time crunch with Devers – they need to understand how wrong they’ve been before. Unfortunately, most people aren’t inclined to believe they care anymore. Kennedy’s canned bureaucratese about postseason play certainly isn’t going to convince them:
"“We need to keep the focus on what’s important, and that’s playing baseball in October and winning World Series championships. That’s the most important thing. So we’ll let other people judge and decide if we’re doing things right or wrong. That’s not for us to say. That’s for others. We just have to focus on making what we think are the right decisions for the Red Sox.”"
Wouldn’t a club that’s trying to play in the postseason and win more championships want to retain the services of the players who’ve already proven they can do that in Boston? That’s probably too logical of a strategy, right?
As it stands, Devers is the only player from the starting lineup of the last World Series game in 2018, and Chris Sale is the only member of that year’s starting rotation. Four seasons after winning a franchise-record 108 regular-season games and their fourth championship in fifteen years, the Sox are in about the same standing as they were when Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees to finance a musical.
Speaking of Devers, all Kennedy had to say about whether Bogaerts’ departure affects their negotiations with the third baseman (it absolutely does), was more of the same:
"“We’ll keep doing what I said we’re going to do, which is making the right decisions.”"
Teeth-gritting-ly frustrating, but Kennedy, like Bloom, is only a messenger, and it’s easy to be mad at the person who comes bearing bad news when the sender is unavailable. Sox ownership has been hiding from the media since trading Betts, and they continue to send Kennedy, Bloom, and Brian O’Halloran out to face the firing squad in their stead. One supposes that is their right as the billionaire overlords of this kingdom, but it’s certainly not doing them any favors. The Sox spend so much time trying to convince the public that ownership is involved – Kennedy said Tuesday that ownership is “actively involved in every area of the organization” – but they can’t expect anyone to believe it. While the Sox lose their best players, Henry & Co are MIA except for when they’re in the headlines about potentially selling or buying different teams.
"“John Henry and Tom Werner are as focused on the Red Sox and are as committed to the Red Sox as they’ve ever been and hungry for a competitive ’23, ’24, ’25, ’26 and so on.”– Sam Kennedy"
Kennedy and Bloom don’t own the Red Sox, they work for the Red Sox. It’s not their money to spend, nor can they enjoy having to answer for how it is or isn’t spent. But the show is reaching its crescendo, and the wrong people are singing.