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Bradford: Red Sox owners aren't good at this blame game

Rob Bradford
February 19, 2018 - 3:58 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- They missed the mark again.

Red Sox principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner do this once a spring training, sitting down on the bench outside JetBlue Park to offer a sort of state of the union to kick off spring training. They talk and talk and talk, and then roam the fields to oversee the players and coaches they just talked about. It's a rite of passage. It also has become a jumping off point for some annual uneasiness.

One year it was Henry suggesting the Red Sox were too reliant on analytics. Then there was his proclamation that Pablo Sandoval's body fat percentage clocked in at 17 percent. Another time the owner suggested that his organization was in the best shape of his tenure despite coming off a last-place finish. Taking too many pitches. Not taking enough pitches. Starting pitchers are too old. Starting pitchers are too young.

These guys are good owners. They are just bad at understanding the reality of the here and the now.

This time around? The duo suggested the best offense in the American League went to the one of the worst because the team's offensive approach wasn't what it should be. Yes, the insinuation was that the same hitting coaches who were so good, led these hitters down a path that resulted in a team that didn't hit home runs.

"I think that we’d have more power if we had, we would’ve had significant power last year if we had a different approach," Henry said. "That’s my opinion. It may not be true. But I think we have a very good offense." The owner added, "I didn't think we were nearly aggressive enough and I think our approach was lacking for a good part of the season."


It's fine if Henry believes this is the reason the Red Sox weren't able to keep pace with the American League when it came to hitting home runs. But, I'm sorry, this reeks of someone being suggested something on the way to a soccer match in Liverpool and forming their opinion off of such suggestions.

Statistics might back up Henry. The Red Sox put the ball in play the fewest number of times in the majors when swinging at the first pitch, carrying the third-worst batting average in such situations. That's all well and good. But does he think that Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez told these guys to stop swinging early in the count? They were, after all, the coaches who suggested to Jackie Bradley Jr. that he swing earlier in his at-bats with very good success. ( He hit .358 batting average putting the first pitch in play).

It should also be pointed out that the offensive juggernaut that was the Red Sox' 2016 lineup also put the fewest balls in play when swinging at the first pitch.

Enough is enough. No more talk of not having fun. Forget the impact of everybody outside the lines meaning so much. Can't we just say that the players have to do better, and part of that might be getting different players?

"From my perspective, people have talked about we haven’t made a lot of changes in the last year, in my mind, we’ve made significant changes to address some of the things that were brought up. I do think we had issues last year that … and we’ve addressed those changes," Henry said.

Changes? There have been some interesting adjustments that might be going under the radar. But the owner chose to focus on the wrong one when given the opportunity -- the coaches.

"We’ve made a lot of changes other than just the managers. You haven’t noticed? I think, who did we bring back? Dana [LeVangie], I think. Anyone else," he added. "I’m just saying from my perspective at least, we’ve made a lot of changes. I think our approach last year was lacking offensively and we had issues that the players have already talked about. I don’t really need to talk about it but I agree with what’s been said. But I don’t agree that we haven’t really made much in the way of changes. I think these were significant changes."

The duo did hit the mark with some things, including the notion of, "We really don't need to be popular. We need to win." That isn't uncommon. These meetings the media aren't executed without some preparation.

But these guys might want to take their own advice -- it's time to time for some adjustments in their approach.

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