By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
Talk about going from the penthouse to the outhouse. Just a little over a year ago the Red Sox seemed as if they were on the verge of opening a run where they could be in a position to be the team to beat in the American League for the foreseeable future, and multiple World Series titles were almost certainly in their future.
Fast forward to now, and they are seemingly on a downward spiral that not even the brilliant baseball mind of Theo Epstein – the former Sox GM who assembled curse breaking clubs in his hometown and then in the north side of Chicago with the Cubs – could pull them out of.
Epstein, who has reportedly tired of the organization that calls Wrigley Park home, is now rumored to be a target that the low-talking Red Sox owner John Henry has in his sights to come in fix the financial nightmare that his two successors – longtime associate Ben Cherington and the freewheeling Dave Dombrowski – have left on the desk that once belonged to the kid who grew up in the shadows of Fenway Park in Brookline will inherit.
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) September 14, 2019
As the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden rightly pointed on in a story that ran early on Saturday, Henry’s team is in MLB’s luxury tax purgatory, due to the past two spendthrifts who have loaded the biggest spending club in baseball with bloated contracts, many of which have resulted in little – if any – production in return.
As Madden points out, the Sox are in hock to the tune of $213 million to three starting pitchers – David Price (3 years remaining at $32M), Chris Sale (5 year extension beginning in 2020 for $145M), and Nathan Eovaldi (3 years remaining at $17M) – whose collective health is about as reliable as a construction contractor who has been paid in advance for his services.
Add to that lofty bill for three seemingly broken arms is the dearth of talent down on the farm. According the MLB.com in a spot that ran on the website in early August, the Sox top prospect – 3rd baseman Tristan Casas – is ranked 90th out of 100 in potential talent to make an impact on the team that owns their rights. If that wasn’t scary enough, the incredibly shallow pool of possible future big-leaguers ranks dead last at 30th after Dealin’ Dave emptied the deposit box during his tenure.
When you add to that the fact that last year’s AL MVP Mookie Betts is just 12 months away from free agency and has no intention of giving the team that drafted him a hometown discount of any kind entering his walk year and slugger J.D. Martinez can opt out of his contract after this swing and miss of a season comes to a close in a couple of weeks, the next guy to occupy the corner office in the ancient bandbox in the Fens, will jump into baseball’s biggest fryolator from day one.
When asked about his pending free-agency following the Dombrowski news, Mookie Betts responded the same way he has all season.
“I love it here, but this is proof that this is a business.”
— Joon Lee (@joonlee) September 9, 2019
Despite their unprecedented success this century, longtime Red Sox fans – not the tourists, Pink Hats, and millennials who only go to Fenway Park to sing Sweet Caroline – expect more from the franchise who charges the most money to watch what has been a disappointment more times than not this decade.
Don’t kid yourselves, Sox fans, your favorite baseball laundry to root for during the short New England summers is in about to become to hang you out to dry. But that doesn’t mean that they would continue to ring every dime of cash in your pockets during what is almost assuredly going to be a length rebuild.