Think about it: the NFL, NBA and NHL all have instituted changes in recent years to shorten delays, making the games faster, more entertaining. Meanwhile baseball can’t even get the pitchers to throw the ball. If pitchers like Price and Justin Verlander are going to give Manfred the finger when he talks about a pitch clock, what chance does the commissioner possibly have of getting the positional players to stop stealing signs?
Obviously, there’s a lot to address here, particularly as the Red Sox look to shed payroll under a first-time general manager who must think he just bought a ticket on the Hindenburg. David Price is chronically unhappy. Mookie Betts probably wants out. Your $80 million starting rotation remains an unknown and your manager is in the eye of a historic cheating scandal.
If the Pats lose tomorrow, we’ll view the loss as sign that the Tom Brady era is coming to a close. But if they win – and if N’keal Harry and the offense continue to improve – we’ll wonder if Brady and the Pats have yet another Super Bowl tucked in their hip pads. And that is quite a dramatic contrast.
So what’s going on here? Is Sale OK and are the Red Sox looking to trade him after foolishly signing him to a five-year, $145-million contract that has yet to even begin? Or is Sale injured and are the Red Sox busy trying to find ways to completely rebuild their starting rotation as a result?
Let’s remember that the Red Sox are in a fairly tight predicament. They want to shed about $30 million or more in payroll while addressing needs at first base, second base and on the mound. They have a thin farm system. And they want to contend at the time.
Somebody - or somebodies - must go. And we mean somebody (or more than one) from the group of Nathan Eovaldi ($17 million), David Price ($31 million), Chris Sale ($25.6 million) and, yes, Mookie Betts, the last of whom has a projected salary of $27.7 million next summer and will be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season.
Make no mistake, what Dombrowski’s Sox achieved this year was every bit as extraordinary as in 2018: for the first time in a long, long time – maybe ever? – the Red Sox played a season in which they were largely irrelevant.
The Red Sox are now 9-11 behind Price this season and just 8-14 behind Chris Sale, a combined record of 17-25 that would translate into roughly 66-96 over a 162-game schedule. More importantly, the Sox are just 1-3 behind Price and Sale since beginning their 14-game gauntlet against New York and Tampa Bay – and 5-0 behind everybody else.