The Red Sox have a plan, but it may not be relevant

On Wednesday, the Red Sox introduced newly wealthy Rafael Devers to Fenway Park and did their best to sell him as a celebration.

Each intern in the building marched to the State Street pavilion with the intention of winning the biggest smile award. Perennially optimistic CEO Sam Kennedy played the role of enthusiastic hypeman on this “great” and “historic” day. Video screens featured Devers’ photo and the names of every trainer, scout, and trainer who helped develop him.

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom implored fans to stick with the team and held up Devers as proof a turnaround was on the way. “I want to make it clear that we are going to do this and it will be great,” he said.

Tomase: Story injury the last blow of the Red Sox offseason went wrong

Despite their best efforts, the whole affair felt like the first Christmas without Sparky. We wanna be happy, but her bowl is empty and our hearts just aren’t in it

Celebrating anything Red Sox right now is a challenge. Not even a day before introducing Devers, Bloom revealed that alleged starting shortstop Trevor Story would miss part or all of the upcoming season after undergoing not-quite-Tommy John surgery. His loss came after seeing franchise icon Xander Bogaerts leave in free agency with no replacement in sight.

After a last-place finish, the Red Sox will likely be worse off in 2023, and fans know that, which is why main owner John Henry found himself the butt of boos during the NHL Winter Classic.

So in that context, Devers’ 10-year, $331 million extension seemed far from enough. If the morning was notable for anything, it wasn’t Devers who revealed the thought process behind the signing (hint: $331 million), but the presence of owner Tom Werner on the dais, the air a bit crumpled and sullen.

Besides the effervescent Kennedy, we haven’t heard of any property in ages. Henry was conspicuously absent due to a scheduling conflict, conveniently extending his streak without a press conference to nearly three years, which left Werner to answer questions we’ve wanted to ask someone in power for months.

Why does the team look worse now than three years ago? Is Chaim Bloom the right man to run baseball operations? Why did you let Bogaerts go? But most important of all, what is the plan?

When Bloom came to 2019 and traded former MVP Mookie Betts, some of us recognized the need to reset the payroll and begin a rebuild. Bloom managed to lose dead money and in 2021 even put together a pretty good team that only missed two World Series games, as several members of the organization mentioned on Wednesday.

Then came 2022 and everything that could go wrong, including the offseason. The Red Sox have lost Bogaerts, sniffed out a number of free agent targets and feel more likely to be hopelessly out of action on May 15 than in contention on September 30.

Now, it looks like they’re starting an even more disastrous rebuild than the one that opened Bloom’s honeymoon period, and it’s terrifying when you’re playing in baseball’s top division.

“It’s not a reconstruction!” Werner replied. “We have a core of good players and we’ve added some, but it’s definitely not a rebuild.”

OK, so what is it? What is the plan?

“I believe Chaim has a clear plan to not only make us competitive and to win another World Series, I have a lot of confidence in our minor league system and we will see some of the results of that this year and next year, “, Werner said.

“And we know we’re in a competitive business. We’re in the toughest competitive division. We’ll be back this year, and I think the margin between winning and losing is pretty slim in our division, but I have a lot of confidence in our roster and I also know that Chaim intends to improve it. The results will be what they are, but it’s not what you see on paper in January. It’s there that you meet in October.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but it seems the “plan” can be summed up like this: maybe one day the minor leaguers will be good?

That’s no way to win in 2023, and there’s no guarantee it will mean anything in 2025 or 2028 either. But that’s where we are.

So forgive me if I didn’t feel like firing a confetti cannon on Wednesday. Devers’ extension means they at least have something to show for the core 2018 champions, but they feel further away from those great heights than ever.

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