Dave Dombrowski

A low bar: 2020 season will be a success if we end up hating Red Sox less

A low bar: 2020 season will be a success if we end up hating Red Sox less

The Red Sox brand is a malleable thing. Unlike the consistent they-hate-us-cuz-they-ain't us ethos that has defined the Patriots for two decades, public opinion of the Red Sox tends to bob like a buoy.

When seas are calm, they're a stable beacon. But when the ocean starts churning, they thrash to keep their head above water without becoming unmoored.

Needless to say, the last nine months have featured their share of roiling, 40-foot waves.

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The Red Sox defended their World Series title by winning an uninspiring 84 games and finishing well out of the playoff race. Dave Dombrowski lost his job. Alex Cora followed in the wake of cheating accusations. MVP Mookie Betts departed in a salary dump.

Along each step of the way, fans became a little more disillusioned.

Why invest in watching a player like Betts grow, only to see him given away? Why continue paying some of the highest ticket prices in the game if the team is more concerned with the luxury tax than the product on the field? And what exactly are we to make of Cora? Either the Red Sox cut bait with a successful manager to ease the heat of a burgeoning scandal, or they were actually guilty of something that taints the 2018 title.

Add the collectively disgraceful acts of baseball's owners during the pandemic negotiations, when we heard not a peep from John Henry and Co. while the owners pushed for the shortest possible schedule to limit player payroll, and you've got a sport and a team that engenders more ill will than any other in Boston.

With the games set to resume next week, the Red Sox have a chance to make belated amends. Expectations haven't been this low in a decade. The shortened 60-game season means anything can happen — at a similar point last year, after all, the Red Sox were tied with the Rangers for the second wild card spot.

So what needs to happen for the season to be a success? Quite simply, we need to hate them less.

Fans who feel burned by Mookie's departure, the unwillingness to spend, and the tone-deaf hopes of filling Fenway Park after a nasty labor negotiation could use an overachieving squad that exceeds expectations. It would do the team and its fans a world of good.

We need to be reminded that there's hope for the future. It's not beyond the realm.

An offense built around Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Alex Verdugo can compete with anyone. If they can stay healthy (an admittedly big if), a 1-2 punch of Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi is actually pretty solid atop a rotation that will need to get really lucky in the 3-5 spots. And the underrated bullpen finished last year as a strength, led by borderline unhittable closer Brandon Workman.

The shorter schedule plays in their favor, since they simply need to finesse their way through 60 games. Had the season ended at that point last year, not only would the Red Sox have been visiting the Rangers for a one-game playoff, but four other teams would've been within two and a half games of them.

If 10 of the 15 AL teams still have something to play for as this truncated season enters its final week, that's a success for baseball. There's absolutely no reason the Red Sox shouldn't be one of them.

Crazier things have happened, and even if the odds are realistically remote, the Red Sox need to start rebuilding not just their team, but their image.

Might as well start now.

Dave Dombrowski joins group attempting to bring MLB team to Nashville

Dave Dombrowski joins group attempting to bring MLB team to Nashville

The next major league team Dave Dombrowski runs might be a new one.

The former Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations has joined Music City Baseball LLC, a group seeking to bring a Major League Baseball team to Nashville.

Dombrowski will serve as a baseball advisor and consultant for Music City Baseball, whose board also includes his former Red Sox special assistant, Tony LaRussa, and ex-Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart.

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"It’s clear to me that Nashville is ready for Major League Baseball, and Music City Baseball is making smart and exciting decisions as it works to bringing a team here," Dombrowski said Monday in a statement, via The Tennessean. "From its relationship with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to its community support, Music City Baseball has built a strong foundation."

Music City Baseball was formed in 2019 and is hoping to land an expansion franchise in Nashville or have a current MLB team relocate to the Tennessee capital.

This is an interesting next step for Dombrowski, who helped the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series during his four-year tenure in Boston. The 63-year-old Chicago native previously held general manager jobs with the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers and won the 1997 World Series with the Marlins.

If Dombrowski and the Music City Baseball team are successful in bringing baseball to Nashville, might their next step be courting 2021 free agent and Nashville native Mookie Betts?

Red Sox offseason from hell refuses to die, so we must suffer a little longer

Red Sox offseason from hell refuses to die, so we must suffer a little longer

We often talk about teams limping to the finish line. The Red Sox are instead staggering to the starting tape.

But with less than a week to go until spring training, at least the 2020 team is finally taking shape.

On Friday, the Red Sox continued working with the Twins to amend the Mookie Betts trade in light of Brusdar Graterol's iffy medicals. The Boston Globe also reported that they're preparing to name Ron Roenicke as their next manager, once MLB completes its investigation into sign-stealing during the 2018 season, though the Red Sox say the search is ongoing.

It is past time to put this sorry offseason to bed. Were the winter a game of Oregon Trail, the Red Sox would've lost Sally to dysentery and Matthew to typhoid well before fording that final river into the Willamette Valley.

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Consider the disasters that have befallen them since finishing a disappointing 84-win campaign:

* They fired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski before the season even ended.

* With potential replacements diving under tables and hiding in trees to avoid so much as interviewing for the job, the Red Sox eventually hired their only external candidate, Chaim Bloom.

* They then gave him a miserable task: shed about 15 percent of the payroll while keeping the team competitive without spending anything more than whatever change he could scrounge in the cushions.

* The Red Sox sat out free agency, unless you count the 5.12 ERA of Martin Perez, who could very quickly become their No. 2 starter if Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi don't stay healthy.

* They lost their manager to the fallout from MLB's sign-stealing fiasco, and then tried to convince us that Alex Cora nobly fired himself because that's what families do (gag).

* MLB's investigation into said sign-stealing meant that the team's record 108-win season and fourth World Series title since 2004 would now be called into question, regardless of the findings. The Red Sox nonetheless smugly asked us to withhold judgment.

* After a long winter of being battered by the tides, Betts was finally pushed to sea, shipped to the Dodgers alongside David Price in your classic big-market salary dump of an MVP in his prime. Wait, what?

* Of course, since nothing is easy, that three-team trade is now in limbo because of Graterol's shoulder. A source familiar with the deal still describes it as likely to happen — there's too much at stake for the Dodgers and Red Sox to let it die over the least-consequential player involved — but nothing can be finalized until the Red Sox and Twins sort this out.

* Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that he hopes to conclude his investigation by the start of camp, which is either Feb. 12 (pitchers and catchers) or Feb. 17 (full squad). As long as Roenicke isn't implicated, he will take the helm from Cora.

Whew. Got all that? Deep breath. Now we can turn our attention to the actual team on the field, a group that has received scant attention all winter, thanks to the rest of this garbage.

A Red Sox squad hasn't opened camp with expectations this low during Henry's ownership tenure. Even clubs coming off last-place finishes like the 2015 team believed their fortunes could turn after signing the likes of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. This team can point to ... Jose Peraza? Kevin Plawecki? Chris Mazza?

It's enough to make you wonder exactly how they're supposed to contend in a division that saw the 103-win Yankees add ace Gerrit Cole, the 96-win Rays maintain their young core, and the up-and-coming Jays add starters Tanner Roark and NL ERA champ Hyun-Jin Ryu to an exciting young offense that also now includes bounce-back candidate Travis Shaw.

Despite the presence of All-Stars like Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez, as well as All-Star-in-waiting Rafael Devers, 2020 has the makings of a lost season, and it hasn't even started.

Maybe the Red Sox will surprise us and overachieve, which is the best kind of team to watch. Or maybe Sale's elbow flares up again, they never adequately replace Betts, and Price wins 18 games in L.A. with a smile instead of a scowl.

In any event, farewell to a miserable offseason. May we never endure one like it again.