Red Sox

Going, going, gone? Red Sox in danger of losing every single one of us by September

Going, going, gone? Red Sox in danger of losing every single one of us by September

NEW YORK - The will to care about the 2019 Red Sox is slipping away as inexorably as a toddler's last lead-lidded blink before bedtime.

However encouraged Red Sox fans felt last weekend after watching their team take five of six from the Rays and Yankees, they're in grave danger of tumbling over the precipice and into an abyss of apathy.

Friday night brought more misery in the form of a perfunctory 4-2 loss to the Yankees that included one inning of action and eight innings of inevitability. The Red Sox raced to a 2-0 lead, watched Eduardo Rodriguez give it right back with a first-inning grand slam and that was the end of that.

Like one of those videos of slow-motion destruction when a car loses its brakes on an icy hill and just casually drifts into every mailbox, tree, and Toyota Celica until slamming into a parked dump truck, it feels like the Red Sox have begun their slide to irrelevance and there's nothing we can do to stop it except watch and hope no one gets hurt.

The team's fifth loss in a row just reinforced the notion that when the story of this season is written -- not that anyone will necessarily care to read it -- the tipping point will end up being the July 31 trade deadline and the too-honest press conference Dave Dombrowski conducted in its actionless aftermath.

If the jaws of fans and media dropped when he admitted that the Red Sox weren't close enough to contention to sacrifice pieces of the future for short-term fixes, imagine the reaction of the players. They had basically just been told they were on their own.

The ensuing uneasiness caused manager Alex Cora to make a rare public misstep of his own, when he said he'd be calling a meeting to address the final two months and the challenge that awaits. The meeting was news to his players, who still knew nothing of it on Friday afternoon beyond what they'd read in the media, which led to Cora backtracking more purposefully than Danny Torrance in The Shining and sounding considerably frazzled in the process.

Asked whether he was joking or had changed his mind, Cora said, "All of the above," and then laughed uncomfortably. He tried to explain that he had misspoken and didn't mean to imply he had called a formal meeting, but PR damage done.

Not that it really matters. Now that we know with 1,000 percent certainty that help isn't coming, it's hard to envision the 180 that would be required to salvage their season. What you see is what you get, and what we've seen to this point is hardly worth getting excited about.

And so, we dutifully chronicle a march to futility, just as we did in lost-cause seasons like 2006 and 2010, when the Sox simply never kicked it into gear. Both of those seasons ended shy of the playoffs, and it's worth noting that the Red Sox are now closer to the eighth-place Angels in the wild-card chase (three games) than to the Rays, whom they trail by four games.

That is not a recipe for an action-packed stretch run, and that's bad news for the marketing folks who care about buzz and virality. With the Patriots beginning the defense of yet another Super Bowl title next month and the Celtics and Bruins preparing for training camp, the Red Sox are in danger of being swallowed whole. Eyeballs and attention must be constantly earned in this City of Champions, and if the Red Sox aren't careful, they'll just be playing out the string.

Last year's title has never felt so distant. It's a new year, and it's slipping through our fingers like the last sands of summer.


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In appreciation of Brock Holt, whose job with Red Sox might be gone, but whose legacy is secure

In appreciation of Brock Holt, whose job with Red Sox might be gone, but whose legacy is secure

The transactions came in quick succession as the winter meetings wrapped on Thursday in San Diego. First, the Red Sox selected infielder Jonathan Arauz from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. A couple of hours later, they inked infielder Jose Peraza to a one-year, $3 million deal.

Both are utility infielders, and their arrivals increase the likelihood that we'll be saying goodbye to Brock Holt this winter. 

From a bottom-line perspective, it's hard to argue. Holt turns 32 in June, has battled injuries the past four years and should make more than $3 million annually on a multi-year deal. The Red Sox need to get younger and cheaper, and that includes the bench.

If this is it, though, Holt deserves more of a sendoff than a line in the transaction wire, because his impact on the field, in the clubhouse, and especially in the community far outstripped his modest 5-foot-10 frame.

From high school (where he barely broke 100 pounds as a freshman) to junior college to Rice University to the major leagues, Holt beat long odds each step of the way. That a throw-in acquired with Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan before the 2013 season could earn Rookie of the Year votes and then make an All-Star team defied reason. That the same player would hit for the cycle not once, but twice -- including in the postseason -- while winning two World Series and becoming a gritty heart-and-soul fan favorite, let's just say guys hit that lottery maybe once in a generation.

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"I know and I've kind of gotten a taste of it coming here that certain players just really seem to bond with the fan base," said new baseball boss Chaim Bloom. "He's certainly been one of those. That's not something that's lost on any of us."

Holt brought a fun-loving energy to a clubhouse that needed it in good times and bad. Boston can be a meat grinder even when things are going well, and supporting players who take the edge off are essential. Kevin Millar mastered that role in 2004, while Jonny Gomes followed suit in 2013. That was Holt's job, too, whether he was serving as Andrew Benintendi's All-Star publicist, re-christening the 10th month on the calendar as Brocktober, or wearing a Cobra Kai-inspired headband around the locker room that others soon copied.

Holt had a knack for cracking up his teammates. After Mitch Moreland's three-run homer delivered the team its first win of 2019 in Seattle, Holt sauntered past Moreland in the clubhouse with an ice cream cone, gave it a lick, and said, "Hey Mitch, my mom says, 'Way to go,'" and then just walked out. (His mom later confirmed this account on Twitter).

He famously asked a shorts-wearing Bill Belichick if he was, "going to put some pants on," before facing the Packers on a cold October night in 2018 when the Red Sox were honored by the Patriots as World Series champions.

The night he completed the first cycle in postseason history with a ninth-inning home run to complete a rout of the Yankees, the megawatt smile on Holt's face as he rounded third and returned to the dugout could've powered the sun.

Holt's joyful persona extended to his toddler son, Griff, a glasses-clad Instagram star who developed a cult following for giggling while raiding a box of Life Cereal in the pantry, or pointing at a billboard of David Ortiz and exclaiming, "Big Papi!" or hitting what he called, "Big bomb!" with an oversized whiffle ball bat.

Holt's many viral moments with his son became all the more poignant when viewed through the lens of his tireless devotion to children's causes. He's a four-time Roberto Clemente Award nominee for community service, and he routinely leads the Red Sox in charitable appearances. He served as Jimmy Fund captain for the past five years, and his Brock Stars ticket program brought a Jimmy Fund patient to every Tuesday home game for batting practice. Director of community relations Sarah Narracci has long referred to Holt as her "go-to guy" who never says no.

"He has a great heart," manager Alex Cora said when Holt was nominated for this year's Clemente award, and if this is indeed the end of Holt's Red Sox career, he'll leave an outsized legacy that "5-10, 180" doesn't begin to capture.

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MLB Rumors: These six teams pursued Martin Perez before Red Sox landed him

MLB Rumors: These six teams pursued Martin Perez before Red Sox landed him

Martin Perez is no Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. But the veteran left-hander reportedly drew a good amount of interest in free agency before the Boston Red Sox scooped him up.

A "handful" of MLB teams, including the American League East foe Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, pursued Perez before the Red Sox agreed to terms with him Thursday night, MassLive's Chris Cotillo reported.

Perez's surface-level stats aren't very inspiring: The 28-year-old posted a 5.12 ERA with the Minnesota Twins last season after the worst campaign of his career with the Texas Rangers in 2018 (6.22 ERA, 1.78 WHIP).

But what Perez does provide is durability: He's appeared in at least 32 games in three of the last four seasons, topping 165 innings in each of those campaigns.

Durable left-handers aren't a dime a dozen in MLB, which explains why Perez drew interest from several clubs looking to fill out their rotations entering 2020.

The Venezuela native should be a rotation-filler in Boston, projecting as Boston's fifth starter behind Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi with Rick Porcello leaving to join the New York Mets in free agency.

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