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Rosenthal: Red Sox ownership shares responsibility for team's disappointing offseason

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I can’t defend Chaim Bloom. Not for his missing a trade deadline. Not for his uninspired work so far this offseason. But Red Sox The property deserves as much if not more blame for the franchise’s current inertia. Bloom, the leader of the baseball team, shouldn’t be the only puncher.

the Dishes are spending a lot because owner Steve Cohen is pushing general manager Billy Eppler. the padres keep adding stars because owner Peter Seidler empowers GM AJ Preller. the Yankees Hal Steinbrenner extended to keep Judge Aaron. Even the Cubs Tom “Losses of Biblical Proportions” Ricketts woke up from a long slumber to clear a $177 million deal on Saturday with the shortstop Dansby Swanson.

The Red Sox under owners John Henry, Tom Werner and Co.? They failed to react to a changing market, a market in which stars get decade-long contracts. Dated of Mookie Bets, Sox owners have been opposed to such contracts. They will need to adjust their philosophy to compete for top talent, including their own third baseman, Raphael Devers. Otherwise, they’ll have to trust Bloom to thread the needle, which he failed to do.

Yet despite all of this, the Red Sox insist that all is well.

“We remain optimistic that we will field a very competitive team with a chance to play baseball in October and win a World Series in 2023, absolutely,” team president Sam Kennedy told me on Saturday before the Red Sox did not lose Swanson, a player they were interested in. (Kennedy is the owner group member designated to speak on behalf of Henry and Werner, who rarely speak to each other in public).

Bloom spoken at the Winter Meetings to add “seven, eight, nine, maybe more players than we had after 22”. At this point, the Sox have added six – four relievers plus the infielder/DH Justin Turner38 years old, and a Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida, 29, who many in the industry believe he overpaid $90 million for five years. They hit on early attempts to land the first baseman Jose Abreu and right-handed Zach Evelyne. And they were outbid about $120 million on a player they said they wanted to keep, the shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

We are only in December. 19. Bloom said Athleticismby Chad Jennings that the Red Sox are “very, very actively exploring trades.” But as is often the case with the Sox, most clearly demonstrated by their “chasing” of Bogaerts, a disconnect exists between their words and their actions.

The Sox, in theory, could host the kind of offseason they did a decade ago before winning the 2013 World Series, splitting $100.45 million among seven mid-level free agents. But the 2013 club saw stars such as David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury perform at elite level. Club 2023 will feature Devers and… who exactly?

Of Jim Bowden’s Top 25 Free Agentsthe only ones still available are right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, whom the Sox have an interest in keeping, and outfielder Michael Conforto, absent all last season due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Kennedy said, “We were top five in payroll last year. We will continue to do this. ” But according to Fangraphs, the Sox currently rank 12th in cash payroll at $183.6 million and 14th in luxury tax payroll (based on average annual salaries) at $202.7 million. They are more than $30 million under the lowest threshold. And, at least in free agency, virtually every top player is gone.

It’s not that the property lacks commitment – or at least it didn’t in the past. The Sox had the highest payroll in luxury taxes in 2018 and 2019. They ranked sixth in 2021, when they came two games away from reaching the World Series, and fourth in 2022, when they finished last in the AL East.

In some ways, 2022 has been a year in which everything that could go wrong has gone wrong; the Sox started the season with the fifth-best odds in the AL playoffs, according to Fangraphsbehind the blue jaysyankees, Astros and White socks. Injuries played part in Sox loss, but Kennedy rightly called them out
35-51 record after a 43-33 start “an absolute disaster”.

In Kennedy’s view, the current exasperation in the Red Sox nation is a direct reflection of that finish. Many fans would disagree, attributing their irritation to the aftermath of that finish – the Sox’s lukewarm offseason.

We recognize that what makes this market so great is that our fans care more than they care in any other market. And it’s not acceptable to our fans when we’re not successful at the major league level,” Kennedy said. “That’s why you see and hear the anger, the outrage, the frustration. And we understand it.

But we will not be discouraged. We will do our best to continue to make the right decisions for the organization in the short and long term. And at the heart of that is empowering our baseball players to do what they know how to do. This has been the recipe for success for 21 years.

Asked if that meant Bloom was responsible for decisions not to spend big money on Bogaerts or even Correa, Kennedy said no, explaining that ownership is always involved in big money moves. When asked if Bloom was subject to too much criticism, Kennedy replied, “Absolutely. General managers of sport generally receive too much criticism and too much credit. »

Bloom, however, had more than her share of missteps. Sox owners gave him a tough job when they hired him from low-income family Rays in Oct. 2019, saying they wanted him to keep the major league club strong while rebuilding the minor league system. Everything seemed on track when the Sox qualified for the 2021 American League Championship Series. This season, however, now looks like a mirage.

If the Sox were a fast-burning candle under Bloom’s predecessor, Dave Dombrowski, they’re now a slow-burning candle, and sometimes the candle doesn’t even seem lit. After Bogaerts agreed to his $280 million deal with the Padres, his agent, Scott Boras, hinted at the difference in the Sox’s approach under Bloom, saying, “The makers are different than before. It’s their process. But free agency, perhaps the most property-influenced part of roster building, isn’t the only area where Bloom fails.

Consider Bloom returns in trades for Betts/David Price, André Benintendi, Hunter RenfroeMitch Moreland, Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and Christian Vasquez. At this point, these deals yielded a slightly above average corner fielder (Alex Verdugo), backup receiver (Connor Wang), Nope. 4 start (Nick Pivette) and rotation depth part (Josh Winkowski), as well as a number of prospects who have not yet met expectations. Chief among these disappointments: Infielder Throw Downswho arrived in trade from Betts and was assigned to be assigned to clear a 40-man berth for Yoshida.

Almost as damning are the trades Bloom didn’t make at the 2022 deadline, Eovaldi’s and designated hitter’s subtractions JD Martinez it could have dropped the Red Sox below the luxury tax threshold. But Bloom, with the backing of ownership, took a half-baked approach to the deadline, not quite, not quite.

If the Sox really believed they had a chance of making the playoffs, they should have kept Vázquez and the southpaw. Jake Diekman with Rovaldi and Martinez. Instead, they tried to play it both ways, adding outfielder Tommy Pham, receiver Reese McGuire and recently DFA first baseman Eric Hosmer. For their efforts, they suffered the double ignominy of finishing over the threshold and missing the playoffs – by eight games.

The damage will carry over to the next entry draft. Going below the threshold would have allowed the Sox to receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B for Bogaerts, and for Eovaldi if they ended up losing it. Staying on top means their compensation for Bogaerts and possibly Eovaldi will be after round four. The first pick after Competitive Balance Round B last year was No. 75. The first pick after the fourth round was No. 137.

The trade for Hosmer, meanwhile, cost the Sox left-handed pitcher Jay Groomewho MLB.com installed as the Padres’ 12th-best prospect, while bringing in two other youngsters who failed to make the Red Sox’ top-30. Not a productive trade, but the Sox’s farm system has indeed improved under Bloom, at least according to the subjective ranking of various publications.

However, what are we talking about here? As Kennedy said, the way to make fans happy is to win the World Series, not to build the No. 1 game in the game. 1 system. Additionally, while the impacts of Bloom’s trades and some of his trades are yet to be fully realized, two of the Sox’s top prospects, first baseman Triston Casas and right-handed Brian Bellwere players they added under Dombrowski.

But enough about Bloom. Any analysis of its shortcomings should begin with the people who manage the Red Sox purse strings, the people who wield the ultimate power. It’s the property that hired Bloom to bring Rays-like efficiency to the Sox, the property that bears the greatest responsibility for Betts’ loss, the property that didn’t exceed $160 million for Bogaerts and that is now at the rendezvous with Devers, who is entering his march an.

Back in Sept. 1, I wrote, “For Sox owner and baseball manager Chaim Bloom, the upcoming offseason looms as a turning point, if not a breaking point.” The offseason is still rolling. But try to convince everyone who follows this team that the Sox are not broken.

(Photo by John Henry: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images))

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