An Open Letter to the Red Sox

Pete Ball goes off on the decision to trade Mookie Betts.

Dear Red Sox,

Let’s start with some reminders:

Your ace Chris Sale underwent Tommy John surgery. That is just some bad luck.

Your second starter, Eduardo Rodriguez, is having complications due to COVID-19 and rightfully shut it down for 2020. He is expected to make a full recovery, which is, of course, the only really important thing here. More bad luck for your 2020 rotation, though.

You’re going to be paying David Price to pitch for another team over the next few years (he opted out this year). Weird decision, but at least you are saving money. That’s really cool. I think I’m supposed to cheer for that, right? Yay.

You let Rick Porcello walk to the Mets. Understandable, he was bad last year. Though it is only understandable if you replace the guy who gave you 33 starts per season over his four years in Boston and averaged 16 wins per season during that time. I have to admit, it doesn’t really feel like you adequately replaced him, though maybe Matt Hall turns around his 15.43 ERA. I hadn’t considered that.

2018 feels like it was a long time ago, doesn’t it?

The bad luck, paying a solid SP to pitch for another team when your own rotation is in shambles, giving up on Porcello but not replacing him… none of it compares to your worst move of all.

You went and traded away Mookie Betts.

The Mookie Betts that won an MVP and a World Series in 2018. The Mookie Betts that you drafted and brought up through your own system. Mookie Betts, the batting champion. Mookie Betts, the fan-favorite. Mookie Betts, the four-time All-Star. Mookie Betts, the four-time Gold Glove winner.

Mookie Betts, your best player.

Mookie Betts.

The excuse, of course, was that his contract was going to be up at the end of the season and you feared you would lose him in free agency for nothing. You tried signing him, really! Just like all those years ago when you tried signing Jon Lester! Right?

Well, you reportedly offered him $300 million. Don’t get me wrong, that is a ton of money! The problem is that Mookie’s market is clearly well above that. Manny Machado signed with the Padres for $300 million. Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies for $330 million (but three more years than Machado). Though great players, they pale in comparison to the stardom of Betts. You knew that.

You also had to have known that dragging him through arbitration at the beginning of 2018 was probably a stupid decision. You couldn’t settle a difference of $3 million with your best player? The player who would go on to win MVP and a World Series that year? Were times really that tight at Fenway? Not enough people were buying $5 bottles of water at the game? He won the arbitration case, of course. It probably would have been easier if you just signed him.

You smartened up after that, and “settled” with him the last two years of his arbitration eligibility. He continued to shoot down whatever offers you may have thrown his way for a long-term extension, but if you were in his position, would you have considered what was being offered to you? Again, see what the players above signed for when they hit free agency.

Dave Dombrowski? Fired. You needed someone to fall on the sword as well as a restart button to avoid the luxury tax. Thanks for 2018, Dave! Beat it!

In comes Chaim Bloom. The fresh face. The restart button.

He can trade away Mookie and it all looks like some master plan. The guy who helped Tampa Bay be a better team than you in 2019 with less than half the payroll. Who can argue with that?

Call me crazy, but for some reason I have this feeling that Bloom did not want to be the guy who shows up in Boston and immediately trades away their best player and fan-favorite. In a city like Boston, that doesn’t seem like a wise decision. And make no doubts about it, Bloom is a smart guy.

This was a decision made from the top. It was all about the money. Get under the luxury tax, even if it means trading away Betts.

It probably wasn’t your first choice. Dombrowski’s Price and Nathan Eovaldi contracts were complete blunders. JD Martinez opted in, making it that much more difficult. Regardless, if you wanted Betts long-term, you could have had him.

You did have him.

Instead, you traded him away. You got some nice pieces (although apparently you are treating a huge part of that package like a platoon player, so that’s nice) and you got under your precious luxury tax.

What were Red Sox fans left with?

A team that has started the season 3-7, looks completely lost, seems to have an inept manager in over his head, and just got swept by the immensely superior Yankees.

You went into 2019 as the reigning World Series champions with the reigning MVP and a rotation of Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, and Nathan Eovaldi.

You went into 2020 as a team without a manager, without their best player, and with a rotation of Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Zack Godley, Matt Hall, and Ryan Weber.

Was staying under the luxury tax worth it? Time will tell, I suppose.

But the slim hope of bringing back Betts to Boston is now completely gone. Within his first few months with his new team, he signed a 12-year, $365 million contract. I guess the Dodgers thought he was worth it.

They’re 7-4 right now, by the way. And although he got off to a little bit of a slow start, he is now once again performing like a human highlight reel.

So what do you think of his new contract? You must be so mad! You were convinced he was going to try and get to free agency! I’m sure that if you knew he’d sign that deal, you would have offered it to him, right?

Oh, Tom Werner actually kind of answered that? What did he say?

“You guys know as well as I do that the history of long-term deals is checkered at best. We made what we felt was a generous offer, but for us it’s time to turn the page.”

Ah, the true colors. Well, turn the page we shall. But I have to say, the rest of the chapter doesn’t look so good.

Sincerely,

A Red Sox Fan

Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Pete Ball

Pete Ball is a graduate of Emmanuel College and a die-hard Red Sox fan. In addition to his work at Pitcher List, he co-hosts the Fantasy Baseball "Pitch Count Podcast." Follow him at @PeteBBaseball

  • Avatar Barton says:

    I’m a Yankees fan who agrees with the sentiment. A few things, though, to be fair: the anticipation was to go into 2020 with Sale/Rodriguez/Eovaldi atop the rotation. Not bad. If Boston didn’t want Betts on a long-term deal, it’s foolish to point out how well he’s doing in the first few games of a 13(!) year contract. I am not convinced Betts would have signed an extension if not for the sure-to-be depressed market and upcoming national and professional sport-wide economic downturn due to the pandemic. A lot of factors unforeseen until a few months ago played a role in the outcome of the current status of the Red Sox. But sure, they should have traded Betts last year and gotten a better return. And yes, they are a rancid franchise.

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