Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that the Yankees spent their weekend adding the best home run hitter in baseball to their lineup by trading for Giancarlo Stanton. If you are living under a rock and have successfully avoided that news, is there any more room under there? No? Okay, fine. The bottom line of all of this is that it sucks as a Red Sox fan. It sucks to see an already powerful Yankee lineup add someone like Stanton and it sucks that this is the Red Sox’ biggest competition in the American League East for years to come. It sucks that MLB allowed a cash-poor group to buy the Marlins and immediately strip their payroll by giving away the reigning NL MVP. It sucks that the Yankees were the beneficiaries of that. I’m certainly not buying the Derek Jeter conspiracy theories — this was Stanton’s choice more than anything — but it all sucks either way. The fallout of this move in Boston has been utter despair everywhere you look, and it’s hard to blame people.
There’s no reason for fans to be anything other than upset about this. There are better ways to express that anger than others, but the emotion itself is entirely natural. Boston’s biggest rivals just paired the two best home run hitters in baseball. Who wouldn’t be upset about this? People are starting to lose their minds and the new plans from fans about the offseason are starting to go off the rails. This is what fans do. The important thing is that the Red Sox don’t act like fans. The last thing Boston needs to do is panic after this trade and they can’t let this deal change the course of their offseason.
Throughout the history of sports, we’ve seen teams get overzealous over the course of their offseason and having that process backfire. The Red Sox themselves have seen it happen with the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford winter along with the Hanley Ramirez/Pablo Sandoval winter. Sometimes, going all-out doesn’t pay off. There’s certainly nothing wrong with big splashes — it’s why Dave Dombrowski is here — but they have to be for the right reasons. The wrong reason would be trying to match a rival. If the Red Sox look to the Yankees adding Stanton and deciding they need to try to keep up, they are making the wrong decisions. Dombrowski and the rest of the front office had a plan to put together a contending club at the start of the winter, and nothing from that plan has changed.
Honestly, I’m not even sure how the Red Sox would try to match the Stanton deal if they wanted to. Presumably, the idea is that Boston needs to keep up with New York’s offense. I’ve got some bad news for people with that idea: It’s not going to happen. I’ve had someone suggest to me that the next logical step for the Red Sox is to sign J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer and trade for Gerrit Cole. What? Michael Silverman suggests signing the first two. I get where it’s coming from, but unless that was the plan a few days ago it shouldn’t be the plan now.
To put it more simply, the Red Sox can’t go into the Winter Meetings thinking they need to add one or multiple specific players. We all know the Red Sox need a bat, and that has been true all offseason. However, while many of us (myself included) prefer J.D. Martinez, it never would be smart for them to focus solely on him. If his market gets out of control, they need to have the flexibility to move on to another target or multiple targets. This is the easiest way a sense of panic can derail things. One could see a team look at the Yankees lineup, decide they need to keep up and hand Martinez a blank check. He’s a great hitter and worth a ton of money, but everyone needs to draw a line in the sand somewhere. The Red Sox just need to keep an eye on every potential match on the market and let said market sort things out for them. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be aggressive, but rather that they need to keep their wits about them.
At the end of the day, regardless of any new players who are brought in this winter, the 2018 season and the potential to compete with the Yankees is almost totally dependent on the players returning from last year’s team. The pitchers need to stay healthy and effective. The hitters need to play up to their potential. It’s entirely possible Boston could see significant offensive improvement from Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez along with the upgrade of having a full season of Rafael Devers. Add one big bat to this and the Red Sox should see enough of an upgrade from last year’s team to match the Yankees’ own upgrade. Obviously, that many improvements is easier said than done, but that’s where the key to 2018 lies.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that Dombrowski and company don’t let another team’s moves dictate the course of their offseason. When the winter began, the Red Sox front office presumably had a plan to put the best possible team on the field to compete for a World Series. Stanton heading to the Yankees may have made the competition a bit steeper, but it doesn’t change what a good baseball team looks like. Boston isn’t going to be able to match the impact of someone like Stanton and shouldn’t try. The goal of making the World Series hasn’t changed, and just because the arch rivals’ lineup got better and scarier doesn’t mean the blueprint has changed for achieving that goal. The Red Sox need to stick to that plan rather than panicking about the Yankees.