The 2023 Boston Red Sox season is over, but the season ended at the trade deadline when reinforcements for the pitching department never arrived. I can now look back in the rearview mirror and give my bullet synopsis of the season. I can trace my fan lineage back to 1952, so I have witnessed more than my share of disappointments.
My prediction for Red Sox glory as the season started was the most notable failure. That is now classified as authentic frontier gibberish as the Red Sox decided to be the basement dwellers of the formidable American League East.
George Steinbrenner -- love him or hate him -- knew the value of pizzazz and sought out superstars for his Yankees. There was no one stirring the drink in Boston, no one to build around, no Mookie Betts, no anything worth staying in your seat to watch coming up down 10-3 in the eighth.
Baseball is entertainment, and the folks who run the sport know that dramatic changes were made to update a lethargic game and make it a 21st-century product. Even with those changes, a visit to Fenway Park -- a dated mausoleum -- had a boring product on the field. I have seen more excitement at a library's trustees meeting. This team was dull and may remain so in 2024.
The core value of baseball Einsteins is pitching. I could recite the drab statistical figures of the pitching staff, but even the casual fan has those numbers seared into their brain pan. The proof positive is that pitching coach Dave Bush now has former as part of his Red Sox resume.
Bush may be the fall guy, but the continual systemic failure of development is the real issue. Then comes the necessary fortification of that weakness and the specter of the trade deadline failures. The result is Chaim Bloom also has the former attachment.
As the saying goes, the "fish rots from the head down," meaning principal owner John Henry. Why have Henry and his minions allowed his flagship enterprise to become a joke. How bad is it? Apparently, the job has few takers. You get fired, such as Ben Cherrington and Dave Dombrowski, if you win. You get fired if you don't win and follow management directives (Bloom).
John Henry is the key to a Red Sox turn around
Those of us who lived through the Yawkey years, Jean Yawkey (Buddy LeRoux and Haywood Sullivan), the Yawkey Trust (John Harrington), and now FSG see a drift to the past.
The 2023 team was a defensive nightmare, especially the infield. Trevor Story should help ( there I go on the optimism), and Triston Casas is starting to "get it" defensively and may improve that for next season. Devers will be, as usual, insufferable at third. I didn't think the 2023 squad would be such defensive slugs.
Economically, times are tough, so what better way to say welcome back for 2024 than by raising the ticket prices. This is the same as attending a Rolling Stones concert and finding out a garage band has replaced them, and you are stuck.
Can you spend your way out of the basement? That question will be answered this offseason as the team may pivot back to the years of high rollers. Will they look to Japan, as mentioned, for the latest "Ace" from Nippon baseball? There is an extensive shopping list available, and expect to overpay. Will they hoard prospects or start to trade as they have in the past with noted success?
The bullpen is an area of constant readjustment, but two key pieces - Chris Martin and Kenley Jansen -- are slated to return. A few others did the job, but in today's baseball, depth is important, and we saw the turnstile approach in 2023. That situation has to be stabilized, and part of that is getting a starter who can go beyond five innings.
Hitting is never a significant issue with a Red Sox team, but consistency is, as 2023 showed stretches of a great wasteland followed by a week or two of outright bashing. Casas could be the masher that sets the stage for everyone or Shohei Ohtani.
The new rules encouraged speed, and the Red Sox did make a cursory acknowledgment of that via a trade for Adalberto Mondesí that blew up since the speedster's knee also blew up. This is where Jarren Duran impacted, and maybe Ceddanne Rafaela will.
The heart went out of this team in early August when needed additions were not made. There were internal rumblings, and (JMO) manager Alex Cora checked out. Cora is on solid ground with management and is a successful manager despite his checkered history.
Cora had no "idiots" as the 2004 team or any Jonny Gomes or Mike Napoli around as clubhouse police. No real spark off the bench or on the bench as a lightning rod.
I will only make predictions once the dust is settled this offseason and the product is presented in spring training. Still, my synopsis aligns with what I see from the fan base on social media and the assessments from the "experts" from various sources, from the Athletic to the newspapers. Bluntly stated: They sucked!