I’ve been as patient as any Red Sox fan on the planet for the past four years.
I’ve rightfully blamed Dave Dombrowski for putting the roster in an untenable position that indisputably had to be rebuilt after 2019. Yes, his 2018 team won the World Series. But the “all in for one ring” mindset became passé after the Red Sox nailed down three championships in 14 years. Boston fans are no longer the filthy beggars that would sell their soul for one championship. Leave that nonsense to the downtrodden rabble in San Diego, Cincinnati, and New York. As Red Sox fans, we should strive for more. Pushing all the chips in while giving zero thought toward the future is the stuff of poverty franchises.
I still believe that Chaim Bloom was on the right track to building something more in Boston. His patient and fiscally mindful nature have put the Red Sox in an enviable position with a lot of money to spend, a ton of assets to deal, and a handful of promising youngsters in the pipeline to replenish the big league club in a few years.
Now that we’re all caught up on the current state of the Red Sox, let’s get down to the heart of the matter with the 2023 MLB Winter Meetings now officially underway.
I’m gonna need an ace on the Boston Red Sox pitching staff. And I’m gonna need him by the close of business Wednesday.
I realize that Craig Breslow just took over s Chief Baseball Officer like eight minutes ago, but it’s time to stop screwing around. The Winter Meetings are unofficially the locale where the off-season’s first big deals are signed. Virtually every key decision maker for every team is on hand in Nashville through tomorrow afternoon. They are all looking to make deals right now, and there is no excuse whatsoever for Breslow to not be the most aggressive negotiator in Music City.
Breslow does not have the luxury Chaim Bloom had during his four-year tenure.
At no point during the Bloom regime were the Red Sox perfectly poised to lock down the final pieces of a championship caliber team. Even after the unlikely success of the 2021 season, the Red Sox were saddled with the worthless husk of Chris Sale for three more seasons, cornerstone players Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Nathan Eovaldi were entering lame duck years, and there was no foundation in place that appeared capable of anchoring the next generation of Red Sox teams. Bloom’s job was perfectly clear to any knowledgeable fan:
- Get the damn payroll under control.
- Build a farm system that can actually produce good players.
- Construct a Red Sox team that has a chance to compete long-term.
Fast forward to December of 2023, where the Red Sox are two starting pitchers away from being a championship contender.
The only somewhat troublesome contract on the books is for 31-year-old Trevor Story, who is owed $95 million over four years and is now healthy with a normal offseason ahead of him for the first time as a Red Sox. Rafael Devers, Masataka Yoshida, Triston Casas, and a healthy Story have the tools to anchor a top-five MLB offense. Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, John Schreiber, Josh Winckowski, and Brennan Bernadino make for a formidable-to-great bullpen. And 90 to 100 starts of varying success lurk somewhere in the amalgamation of Chris Sale, Brayan Bello, Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta, Kutter Crawford, and Garrett Whitlock.
Bloom laid the groundwork for a team that can begin a run of sustained excellence in 2024. Other than filling a couple supporting roles (a second baseman and a righthanded hitting outfielder), Breslow’s obligations for building the 2024 team have been reduced to cutting a couple big checks to a pair of very talented starting pitchers.
Not a bad gig, if you ask me.
The word is out in Boston. Fans are fed up with rebuilding. They need to see results now. And when you consider the weapons listed above, not to mention the universally praised Marcelo Mayer and Roman Anthony waiting in the wings, there is no reason they should have to wait any longer.
The time has come to shut up and cut the damn checks. If that doesn’t happen here and now, what was the point of firing Chaim Bloom in the first place?
The pieces that the Boston Red Sox need to contend for a championship are there for the taking. All two of them.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Marcus Stroman, and Lucas Giolito are free agents that are only a paycheck away. The Red Sox have the available funds to acquire any of them.
Corbin Burnes, Mitch Keller, Logan Gilbert, Tyler Glasnow, and a host of other starting pitchers are heavily rumored to be available in trade talks. The Red Sox have the capital to acquire any of them.
Words cannot convey how little I care that the Yankees, Dodgers, Mets, or any other Major League team are desperate to win a title and willing to pay for these same players. None of them has a combination of funds to spend, assets to trade, and reason to go scorched earth on the rest of the league like the Boston Red Sox. Fenway Sports Group can compete financially with any of these competitors.
Have they spent stupidly the past couple years like the Mets and Padres? No. Have they made foolhardy signings under duress from an uppity fanbase like the Yankees and Phillies? No. They resisted the urge to do so, and it’s time for that pragmatism to pay off. Once things reach a critical mass like they did for the Red Sox in 2019, a team needs the patience and guts to take a couple steps back in order to eventually make a giant leap forward.
It’s time to rejoice, Red Sox fans, because the time to hang back and watch the other kids play is done. Bloom did the dirty work. Now it’s time for Breslow to cash in all the rewards points Chaim banked for us.
If the Red Sox don’t add an ace starting pitcher by the end of the Winter Meetings, Craig Breslow will have failed in his first true test as the Chief Baseball Officer of the Boston Red Sox.
The talent is there. The money is there. The opportunity is there. There is no excuse to be outbid by a “richer team” or a team that offers a “better trade package.” The Boston Red Sox have the money and trade capital to stomp on any of them, and there is no longer any excuse to not get it done. After all the assurances FSG has given fans that the team will be “full throttle” and ready to spend big on starting pitching this offseason, they must acquire an established pitcher that is good enough to be the Boston Red Sox ace by the end of the Winter Meetings.
And I’m not even talking specifically about Yamamoto right now. I understand that his posting window from Japan is open until January 4th, and that he will likely hear offers throughout December. And while I hope that he is Breslow’s top priority, he’s only half the battle.
The other half needs to be obtained this week — right now — before other teams have the opportunity to empty the cupboard. Snell, Burnes, Keller, Montgomery, Glasnow, Giolito … any of those pitchers instantly becomes the ace of the Boston Red Sox if Breslow signs them right now.
If they can then nab Yamamoto down the line, all the better. But make no mistake. John Henry, Tom Werner, and Craig Breslow need to show Major League Baseball and, more importantly, Red Sox fans that the most successful team of the 21st century is no longer f***ing around. They have their house in order, and they are ready to get back into the business of wreaking havoc on the rest of the league.
Some fans may read this and think, “Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying for four years!”
All of you who think this are wrong.
The Red Sox have just now reached the point where it has become prudent to start shelling out the big bucks. If you don’t believe me, look at how literally all of the best teams in MLB are constructed right now. You don’t start paying out the nose for stars until you have a relatively cheap foundation of contributing players in place.
Dave Dombrowski’s Phillies are the one team that appeared to successfully buck this trend in recent years, but after a two-year run that has delivered no titles, the tread on their tires is already starting to wear thin. Rhys Hoskins is a free agent who is expected to cash in elsewhere. Nick Castellanos (still owed 3 years and $60 million) is now rumored to be available in a salary dump to help pay for the seven-year, $172 million extension Aaron Nola just signed. And co-ace Zack Wheeler is due to hit free agency next winter.
Unless owner John Middleton is ready to go full Steve Cohen in the near future, Philadelphia’s championship window may be closing this October.
Whereas the Phillies are fighting desperately to keep their window open, the Red Sox are set to open theirs right now. They are currently two good starting pitchers short, but I expect at least one of those pitchers to be signed by Thursday morning. If Boston does not add a premier starting pitcher by the time the Winter Meetings come to a close, I will rain fire on the organization from my keyboard, my microphone, my soapbox, and any other platform I can find for inexcusably dropping the ball.
They cannot be beaten to the punch this winter. To not strike presently from such an advantageous position would be an atrocious failure, and such an occurrence should be met with vitriol by all Red Sox fans. If the Red Sox’ starting rotation is not considerably better by the end of the day tomorrow, the time to truly question the objectives of this franchise will have finally come.
Make no mistake, this is no condemnation of the team. On the contrary, this is an acknowledgement of the confidence that I have in Fenway Sports Group to recognize the stage they are at and to get the job done. This is a serious franchise that is hell bent on building a sustained winner. The time has come to put the doubters in their place and rekindle the glory days of Boston sports.
Enjoy the ride.