You know who’s not upset about the relatively slow pace of this offseason? Bears. They are awake for the summer and asleep for the winter and miss all of the hot stove action, or lack thereof, in favor of a big nap. We have no such luxury. We have to live every day of the offseason, and it’s cold.
If it sounds bleak, it’s supposed to. Hence the hot stove. A “hot stove,” contrary to its name, isn’t primarily used for cooking. It’s kept on during times of extreme freezes to keep a room or a house warm, but warmth is only one part of the winter-survival equation. Unlike bears, we still need protein, food, water and entertainment.
If our recent Twitter behavior is any indication, Red Sox baseball is our protein. From the team Twitter account on down, we cannot resist counting down the days until Red Sox baseball “returns.” Given this very exuberance, I have a hard time feeling like it’s gone anywhere at all. I feel very much more than I’m living it all, every day, even when nothing is happening. The real hot stove is the friends we made along the way.
Because if you have 20 people in a house, it might be warm enough to forego the stove entirely. Now imagine there are hundreds of people in your kitchen, all hot and bothered by the lack of Red Sox news. Not only would you probably keep the stove off, you might even open a window. You might need to let out some of the heat. I think that’s solidly the situation in which we find ourselves this offseason, if Twitter is the kitchen.
To mix metaphors, if there is a Mendoza Line for the amount of daily content necessarily Red Sox for fans to ingest to satisfy their curiosities and/or their religious prostrations to the lizard god of Landsdowne Street, we are hitting well above it. Frankly, hearing you guys complain and speculate and joke about the team is plentygood enough for me each day. It’s far more Andrew Benintendi’s batting line than Doug Mirabelli’s, if that makes any sense, in that it’s good.
Why am I so calm? There is a decent argument to be made that I feel this way because I believe the team is in good hands with Dave Dombrowski. It’s hard to say if I could be this sanguine about it if they were coming off a bad year, but I’m going to enjoy what I think should be a very hopeful offseason for as long as it is truly ever silent, because in the silence I hear all of your voices, and they echo louder than heck.
What are they saying? They are saying, basically, they want eggs. They need that protein, and they are rapacious about it. It’s how we are at our neediest. The only Bill Bryson line I even half-remember is one that purports to prove the savageness of humanity at breakfast time as evidenced by our tendency to eat embryos, in bulk, with gusto. Well, yeah, and Twitter is sort of like that all the time. It transmits our predatory nature from the morning hours into the rest of the day and night. It makes animals of us.
But we are not animals. Or, we are, but not for the purposes of this exercise. For the purposes of this exercise we are Rational and Civilized Beings awaiting a Fine Meal, being, yes, cooked on the hot stove. Our chef is Dombrowski -- that or he has a rat pulling the strings from under one of those really tall chef’s hats. Doesn’t matter.
Whatever he’s/they’re making, it’s gonna be good. We know he’s going to use the best ingredients, and I know from watching any cooking show ever, and eating food myself, that the secret to making good food is to use good ingredients. It won’t be Giancarlo Stanton or Shohei Otani, and that’s okay, because J.D. Martinez and Jose Abreu are available. There might be Howie Kendrick-type deals in the offing, but I’m talking about the top-shelf choices. I’m talking about the ones worth waiting for.
As Tom said, though, the waiting is the hardest part. Cooking on the hot stove takes time. As hungry as I am, I have all of you to keep me warm and well-fed with Red Sox morsels until my plate finally shows up. I’m not losing-my-mind hungry. I’m actually pretty full, and for that I’m as bullish as you’re going to get. I think the team is in good shape no matter who they sign.
As I noted above, this is a credit to Dombrowski, most obviously for the Chris Sale trade. Last year it was blindingly obvious that the team needed to make a major move in the wake of David Ortiz’s retirement to stay at a division-winning level, and Dombo went out and did it. We had been spoiled by Big Papi, and Dombrowski ensured that we didn’t suffer the indignity of not having an iconoclastic left-handed superstar on our team full of pretty damn good baseball players. Crisis averted!
Then the Sox went out and won 93 games the division in a year the following things happened or were true:
- Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers were a combined 39 years old (I manage this on my own)
- Rick Porcello, the defending American League Cy Young Award winner, pitched like Rick Porcello, the guy you expected
- Mookie Betts, the defending AL MVP runner-up (it’s totally a thing) had a bad season at the plate, popping up on the infield at an astounding rate
- Xander Bogaerts got hurt and played pretty darn poorly
- David Price missed a huge chunk of the season with an injury and wasn’t exactly Mr. Personality the other times
- Dustin Pedroia became one of the five worst baserunners in baseball, lost all his power and got hurt
- Pablo Sandoval was the worst player in baseball
- Hanley Ramirez had a mediocre year
- Steven Wright’s season was terrible and then over due to injury
- Eduardo Rodriguez spent a good deal of time on the disabled list
- Carson Smith missed most of the season
- Tyler Thornburg missed all of the season
- Henry Owens pitched
Godspeed, Henry. I really hope you turn it around.
Anyhow, even if the team’s best 2017 performers regress a bit -- Chris Sale’s aggregate numbers come down, the bullpen is fallible and Craig Kimbrel is human -- this team has a lot of space to get better. Benintendi alone will be worth the price of admission. Whoever it is he’ll be playing alongside is the cherry on top of a cake that’s still rising. Just tell me when it’s there. I don’t need breakfast. I’m still full from last season. I want dessert, and that’s what we’re going to get.