First things first. Truck Day needed to stop years ago and it was never more evident than this past Monday. It’s not fun for anyone. Kids don’t care, old timers think it’s a joke, and everyone else is too busy to waste their time with such a meaningless event.
Spare me with the “first sign of spring” nonsense. We’re still very much in the middle of winter. There’s a strong possibility that our biggest snowstorm of the year hasn’t happened yet. We don’t have a manager, our best player was about to be shipped out of town, and ticket prices have been raised again despite a decline in the quality of the product on the field. The last thing anyone wants to do right now is stand out in the cold and celebrate the departure of a truck full of baseball equipment. I’m extremely proud of Red Sox fans for not showing up to that thing. The turnout was justifiably pathetic.
Now, on to the deal that went down on Tuesday night (and is still pending). It was beginning to look more and more likely that Mookie Betts would be on the move, so the news about him and David Price being shipped to the Dodgers didn’t come as a huge surprise. The return, however, was atrocious. Alex Verdugo (from the Dodgers) has potential but his track record off the field makes him unlikeable. Brusdar Graterol (from the Twins) is putting up Pablo Sandoval-type numbers on the scale. At age 16, he weighed 180 pounds. Five years later, he’s listed at 6’1”, 265. He’s gained 40 pounds in the past year alone and his medical reports are the reason why the trade has yet to be made official.
The move is nothing more than a salary dump because John Henry is a cheap bastard whose loyalty to winning is becoming more and more questionable each year. I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say I would not be opposed to him selling the team in the near future. But he’s still here, Mookie Betts is (probably) not, and baseball season is set to begin regardless of the team’s status. So what can we expect from the Sox in 2020?
Pitching is a huge concern, and that would’ve been the case whether or not Price were still here. Chris Sale was a mess last year. Boston’s best starter (Eduardo Rodriguez) put together the first consistent season of his five-year career. Relying on those two guys to carry the staff is a scary thought. It also goes without saying that the bullpen will need to overachieve to get the type of production we’re looking for.
The offense will be absolutely fine. Don’t get me wrong, Mookie has a tremendous bat. He finished second in the AL MVP voting in 2016, he won the damn thing in 2018, and he helped lead the Sox to a title. All great stuff. But last year? He was the fourth best hitter in a stacked lineup. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez all put up better numbers at the plate. All three of those guys haven’t gone anywhere, so scoring runs won’t be the issue that some fans are making it out to be.
If there’s any reason to believe in the Red Sox this year it’s the fact that the odds are stacked against them. They’re in the perfect position to embrace the underdog role, rally together, play their hearts out, surprise everyone, and win over the city. The Nationals drew a lot of criticism last off-season for the lack of return they got for Bryce Harper. They won the World Series. There’s also the recent history of new managers. Three of the last four managers hired by the Red Sox have won the World Series in their first season.
Yes, the Nationals had a stronger pitching staff on paper. Yes, the first-year manager streak is a bit flukey and not a particularly compelling argument as to why the Red Sox could be contenders. But I say all of this to remind you that anything can happen, and therefore counting out your baseball team in early February is completely asinine. No matter how dire the circumstances may seem and how much I might despise the team’s ownership, I just can’t stand for that level of pessimism. We were all witnesses to the 2013 squad aka the rose that grew from the concrete. Take your preseason predictions and shove ‘em. Let’s play ball. (Once we get that manager thing figured out. Looking like it’ll be Ron Roenicke.)