Message to Red Sox: Desperation isn't a good look

Rob Bradford
February 17, 2020 - 7:11 pm
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It’s OK.

Sometimes expectations change. Ticket sales aren’t always great. Narratives can get uncomfortable. Popular players leave. Unknown players come in.

This is the Red Sox existence. So be it. Some will get that reality, others won’t. But there is one entity that is expected to come to grips with this new reality: the Red Sox.

Let’s just say they are having a hard time with this.

The Red Sox have had a pretty good run since this ownership took over, in large part because money was always willing to be spent. When you’re willing to spend in order to fix your mistakes, mistakes are usually going to be fixed. But this one is different.

Monday’s press conference was a reminder of that.

The Red Sox are simply a bit too desperate. That’s how the ownership’s 30-minute get-together with the media suggested.

It started with a prepared statement from John Henry:

It isn't complicated why Henry took this tact. With the trading of Mookie Betts, it was perceived as an important moment in the franchise's history. He viewed this as no time for introductory improvisation. OK. Fair enough.

The problem was that nobody wanted to compare this Betts stuff with some Stan Musial story. Same goes for the eventual parallels drawn to when the Red Sox traded Nomar Garciaparra in 2004. This was about Betts, a unique player in a unique situation.

Here's what the opening statement should have said:

"We tried for the past three years to sign Mookie Betts to a long-term extension but could not come to an agreement with Mookie and his representatives regarding his market value. We have no regrets in terms of the financial heights we presented Mookie each step of the way. It was simply a difference of opinion and Mookie has always been firm in his willingness to reach free agency if his evaluation wasn't met.

"If we could not get what we perceived a satisfactory return in a trade for Mookie we would have been content to enjoy at least one more year of Mookie's presence while continuing to explore common ground on a contract.

"In terms of my statement regarding getting below the CBT, that always remained a goal for obvious reasons: In order to best position our franchise for the future while having the opportunity to make a run at significant free agents next season that is our most logical path. Normally such goals aren't publicized due to competitive disadvantages. I am sometimes honest to a fault. This might have been one of those occasions. This motivation served as part of the impetus behind including David Price in the trade."

"Questions?"

A lot of this Henry, Tom Werner and Sam Kennedy ultimately got to, although often times doing the dance that might keep their all-in persona alive.

Then came Kennedy's reminder regarding ticket packages. It started and it seemed odd, but somewhat understandable considering the need to remind everyone this is still a business and business wasn't booming like in years past. But then it kept going.

By the end of the statement all that was missing was Kennedy offering the opportunity for those in attendance to give his Square cell phone credit card reader a swipe.

It's clear they are all stung. The ticket sales. The diminished interest. The replacement of one of the game's most popular players with someone (Alex Verdugo) whose only mention in the press conference was due to an assault case. The Major League Baseball investigation. All of it.

Make no mistake about it, it is a weird feeling. Walking into the clubhouse and there is undeniably more names the average fan never heard of than recognizable professional ballplayers. For a Red Sox locker room, that is unheard of.

Ron Roenicke is doing his best to offer some normalcy, but the fact that he can't even name a bench coach (or get interim off his title) until that MLB ruling goes down next week is bizarre.

It is what it is.

This isn't changing any time soon, even with a favorable investigation. The Red Sox could get off to a great start and the Josh Osich's of the world might be the kind of diamond-in-the-roughs Chaim Bloom is being counted on to uncover. But remember, when the Red Sox surprised with their overachievement in 2013 fans didn't buy into the team until late August. This is what awaits ... best case scenario.

These desperate times don't call for desperate measures. It's too late for that.