Red Sox fans have been clinging to the words "full throttle" all offseason.
"Full throttle" was a light at the end of the tunnel, the last drop of rain in the desert, the closest thing to a promise that New Englanders had to look forward to when the Boston winter let up into spring. It felt like a competent Red Sox team was on the horizon.
Maybe the Red Sox wouldn't crawl out of last place in the American League East. Fans thought they could explode into the 2024 season with a new-look squad and a refreshed attitude towards spending money.
How naïve the believers were.
Fenway Sports Group Chairman Tom Werner said the Red Sox would be going "full throttle" this offseason at the introductory presser of new Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow in November. And it took him this long to take it back.
“Maybe that wasn’t the most artful way of saying what I wanted to say,” Werner told Sean McAdam of MassLive.
When Werner said "full throttle," he meant it on just one front: the team competed for Yoshinobu Yamamoto's services, and when he signed somewhere else, the offseason was over. And fans' dreams of a competitive Red Sox team died with it.
The firing of Red Sox executive Chiam Bloom felt like a new beginning for Red Sox Nation. Breslow was ushered in after multiple, higher-caliber front office candidates turned down the invitation for Bloom's vacancy. That was red flag number one of Boston's offseason.
The many front office executives who turned down an interview with the Red Sox knew that Bostonians were set up for more of the same. They all knew it wasn't Bloom who decided where the money was spent — or, in the Red Sox's case, not spent.
Tom Werner's "full throttle" comment gave Red Sox fans false hope
Werner also told MassLive that money isn't everything. Red flag number two.
"Whoever spends the most amount of money in free agency doesn’t necessarily hoist the World Series trophy at the end of the year,” he said.
Money IS something to the fans in the pavilion or the bleachers — none of them are billionaires. Red Sox fans consistently pay for the most expensive ticket in the MLB and they're realizing their price of admission isn't getting them a product worth spending on, especially in the current economy. And Werner and John Henry are scrambling now that they've realized Fenway won't be selling out every day.
Fans know that Henry and FSG have enough money to improve the team while waiting for homegrown prospects to reach the Major League level. They're now seeing his -- and only his -- reluctance to spend.
Henry is among the wealthiest MLB team owners. He's also among the only team owners who own the ballpark in which his team plays. Henry doesn't need to satisfy Red Sox fans to make money. In fact, he'd rather not. After all, "it's expensive to have baseball players."
Henry owns The Boston Globe and New England Sports Network (NESN) as well — the two premier publications for Red Sox content. This secures his position that he'll never be held liable on a serious level — he owns every single outlet that could suffer the consequences of his lack of spending. And Werner is his right-hand man, equally shielded from true accountability.
Werner's "full throttle" promise has been adopted by fans as their way of holding the Red Sox front office responsible. The blame has finally been diverted from Bloom and Breslow to the people who direct all of their decisions, as it should've been all along.
The front office is running out of time and excuses. There are still unsold Opening Day tickets at Fenway Park, and a lot of them. Fans are finished with mediocrity, and if Henry and Werner have any interest in self-preservation, they should be, too.