Maybe the Red Sox didn’t get the memo when Major League Baseball made a deal with Netflix to spotlight their upcoming season.
It’s the only explanation for the Red Sox’s uninspiring offseason. Even as the organization knows it will be under the microscope in 2024, the club has so far failed to make meaningful roster additions that could change its current outlook: another last-place finish.
New chief baseball officer Craig Breslow has made just one notable signing — here’s the hat tip for acquiring Lucas Giolito — but he has accompanied it with a series of head-scratching decisions. He let clubhouse leader Justin Turner walk without making an offer, despite the respected veteran’s stellar productivity and modest salary. He dealt oft-injured ace Chris Sale to the Braves in exchange for infield piece Vaughn Grissom. And he essentially swapped out Alex Verdugo for outfielder Tyler O’Neill.
And that’s it.
The Red Sox haven’t done much or spent much to indicate they will compete in the best division in baseball. The Orioles clinched the AL East with 101 wins last year and only got better by trading for Corbin Burnes this winter. As of this moment, the Red Sox are nowhere near the class of the Rays, who most recently registered 99 wins, and the Yankees, who traded for Juan Soto. The Blue Jays might not be better than last year, but they’re certainly not Red Sox bad on paper.
Besides Boston’s lack of roster improvement, the team’s messaging has been completely maddening to its already embittered fan base. Red Sox chairman Tom Werner confidently said back in November that the team would go “full throttle” this winter, suggesting an aggressive spending approach that would make the Red Sox contenders again. The aftermath of that statement featured one let down after another. Just a few weeks ago, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said he expected a lower payroll in 2024. Huh?
At least Theo Epstein is lurking around Fenway Park again to help the front office make better decisions. The architect of three World Series champions, including the 2004 Red Sox squad that broke the franchise’s 86-year title drought, has returned to Boston as part owner and senior advisor. It’s too bad he couldn’t join Fenway Sports Group before the Red Sox got into this mess, before they sunk to the AL East basement three times in the past four years. The only optimism emanating from Boston now is that Epstein is back on board. There is hope his leadership can help Breslow and ownership make better decisions, both operationally and financially.
“Given the desire to win everywhere, we viewed this as tripling down on our commitment to winning,” Kennedy said of the hire, per the Athletic. “If our teams and clubs aren’t winning, there’s nothing to talk about. No one knows better how to win than Theo.”
If bringing Epstein back was the Red Sox’s way of “tripling down,” Kennedy and the rest of his brass must be waiting to reveal their first and second initiatives. So far, Boston’s alleged commitment to winning has only made its fan base angrier and more hopeless about the direction of the franchise. What’s next, will the Red Sox say that commitment will reveal itself in the documentary being filmed this season?
Boston legends reunite to discuss the city’s ‘championship era’
MLB also announced that there is a second Netflix project coming later this year. That documentary will look back at the historic 2004 Red Sox season “which culminated with one of the greatest comebacks in sports history and the franchise’s first World Series title in 86 years,” per the press release.
Speaking of that 2004 World Series, where did all that Red Sox swagger go?
The Yankees recently gave their Boston rival outstanding mocking material and the Red Sox wasted it away. Aaron Boone revealed last October that the Yankees’ mental skills coach sent the players and the team some highlight videos of the 2004 Red Sox as a source of motivation during their desperate playoff push. At the time, the Yankees’ decision was ridiculed plenty across radio waves and morning sports shows as a ridiculous approach to creating inspiration. But how did the Red Sox respond? They finished last in the division for the second straight year.
The last thing the Red Sox need right now is a Netflix docuseries detailing their upcoming season. The army of camera crews and extra attention will just be another distraction. The only thing this club should be focused on is returning to the elite level of play that has delivered an MLB-high four championships in the past 20 years. You can’t fault the league for jumping at the opportunity to feature the Red Sox. The franchise and Fenway Park are gems — fundamental components of MLB and its history. And it’s no surprise Netflix chose to highlight the organization, regardless of its current state.
Everyone else seems to understand the high expectations that surround the Red Sox. It’s just the Red Sox, lately, that are behaving like a small-market team. It’s the Red Sox that are saying one thing, and doing another. It’s the Red Sox that are playing with fire and facing irrelevance by not investing in the required resources to win. The Red Sox, by agreeing to this docuseries, are asking us to give them more attention.
Too bad ownership and the front office haven’t provided a product worth watching.
Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets as a beat reporter for the New York Daily News. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Deesha grew up on Long Island and now lives in Queens. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.
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