For those who started following the locals after 1967, buckle up, cupcake; it's time to journey back in Red Sox history using the Wayback Machine - the cartoon version, not the web version. Yes, this is a hit job on this offseason.
In the 1950s and 1960s, say, from 1956 to 1966, the Red Sox presented a dreadful product on the field. The team slowly disintegrated, and when Ted Williams departed, the woes only magnified.
From 1961-1966, the team was a regular visitor to the depths of the American League. Attendance never topped a million, nor came close in that post-Teddy Ballgame epoch. Owner Tom Yawkey had the money and was willing to spend, and now we have an owner who has the money and is not willing to spend.
The argument can be put forward that they have opened up the purse strings with the signings of Trevor Story, Masataka Yoshida, and the contractual reboot of Rafael Devers. Still, even those signings have raised a flag of concern. Has management lost its competitive edge? Have the game's dynamics changed so rapidly that the Red Sox are playing catch-up? The game on the field has certainly changed but so has the front office, and that means spending, especially for front-line pitching.
In the drama over the firing or "mutual departure" of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the concern in some quarters was that Belichick was old school when the lessons being taught had changed, and Belichick was a few yards behind. Is that what is facing the Red Sox?
When the selling point becomes the ballpark and not the team, you are in a world of trouble, especially since the old ballyard is a dilapidated wreck. So you pay a nice chunk of your financial future to see a collection of "not ready for prime time" players. Then, to top it off, you have senior management backtracking on foolish statements that had no substance except to give false promises to keep the cash cow flowing.
A business runs on customer service, and the customer is the driver. The only reason for most to return is tradition, like going to the mountains or the beach in the summer. For my yearly baseball fix, I'll head for the road and visit America to watch the sad Red Sox.
The Red Sox are returning to a previous age of mediocrity
The hard-core and soft-core fan base will start to walk away, and the grumbling is quite evident on social media. The 2024 season will be a turning point, just like the 1967 season, only in reverse. So far, the baseball triage expected from Craig Breslow has yet to materialize and the team merely has replaced the messenger and not the message.
The goal for 2024 should be two-fold - win back the fans and have an exciting and competitive team. Both are linked. Getting that competitive team is risky and costly.
Back in the day, John Henry's Red Sox took risks with trades and free agency that proved fortuitous to the franchise's success. Four championships and failures that were quickly addressed -sometimes, the risks exploded into a cauldron of disappointment, such as Carl Crawford and Pablo Sandoval. They traded for pitching, bought pitching, and filled roster holes quickly. Now they appear a step behind, like listening to a symphony where an instrument is out of tune, and in the AL East, that is doomsday material.
At this stage, this is a good but dull team with little to excite a fan base that remembers when it used to be the opposite. They have a few games above or below .500 etched on them, and the need is obvious - pitching.
You develop pitching, trade for pitching, and buy pitching. The current ownership has done all three with varying degrees of success. Now they are in the trade/buy situation, and with time running out and pressure mounting, will they respond?
Spending does not ensure success; the 2023 New York Mets represent a testament to that. Still, they are now in a "do something!" position, as the current roster is not built for success, especially in the highly competitive AL East. The rotation is where it starts, and what is shaping up with the current rotation is where it will end. Maybe Breslow and his puppeteers will loosen up in the next few weeks and acquire pitching that doesn't have "meh" written all over it.
As constituted, this team is not going to the playoffs in 2024, and that may be an annual event like it was in the 1956-1966 time frame. Management has embarrassed themselves with the full-throttle nonsense and their inability to address the core issue of pitching.