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The Flyby: What is success?

Boston Red Sox Summer Workouts Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Happy 2021 everyone. It’s been an awkward start to the year for me, but hopefully we are back on track. As a result, this will be a mega-Flyby, featuring FanPosts from the last two FanPost periods.

There were two questions we had for you in those periods. The first asked what it would take for you to consider the 2021 Red Sox a successful team. The second asked what you think the most shocking move the team would make this year. Unfortunately the second didn’t really get much in the way of response, but we’ll still take your thoughts in the comments.

Forward Momentum by Soxfan893

What they said: The most important thing for the Red Sox will be not going backwards. Pick a direction. Make a move. Any move. They don’t need to win, or be a playoff team. Just pick a direction and stick to it. There’s one way to screw up the 2021 season, and that is to run the same guys out there that we did last year.

I agree very much with this. I’ve long been parroting the same phrase over and over since time immemorial: “No Half-Measures”. It’s become something of a motto. A half-measure would be non-committal one way or the other. If you want to tank, you trade guys out and get a better farm system. If you want to win, you stock up on players like Dave Dombrowski did when he was in Boston. It’s a simple formula that we all more or less understand. A half-measure would be to say trade Alex Verdugo for a pitching prospect, replace him with like Jake Marisnick, and then make a weird win-now move like signing Trevor Bauer at the cost of a draft pick. In theory, you are trying to win, I guess, but it just doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t really commit to a direction properly.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

This is something that the Red Sox have done really well in the 21st century. They tend to pick a direction, do well with it, change directions, and make it back to the World Series and win when they get there. They change directions a lot, but they always pick a direction and stick to it.

Ironically, they appear to be gun shy on both fronts now, due to over-committing on a direction in the afterglow of the 2018 World Series. The Red Sox extended Chris Sale and signed Nathan Eovaldi to a long-term contract that they would probably undo in a second if they could, even with their need for starting pitching. Those moves cost the Red Sox a lot, even if they didn’t know it at the time. The lack of financial flexibility may have led to the Mookie Betts trade that everyone was so heartbroken over, and their self-imposed need to get under the luxury tax threshold in the 2020 season. It led to the firing of Dombrowski, who was replaced with Chaim Bloom, who in turn is still attempting to get his footing in the aftermath of the demolition of a farm system.

In the past year and change, Bloom has done a good job of replenishing the farm. He will likely continue to do so, especially with the fourth overall pick in the upcoming draft. Some have grown impatient with him, and I think the ire is a little misplaced. Not only is he not responsible for everything, but Bloom can only play with the hand he is dealt. In 2020 he was seemingly given a mandate to trade the best position player Boston has had since at least Carl Yastrzemski. This year, Bloom may also have his hands tied. The Red Sox ownership group has made it known they are not all-in. Bloom can’t go against that.

Alex Cora Boston Red Sox Manager Press Conference Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

How Chaim Bloom will be judged is by his ability to placate the owners and convince them that the right move is to stick to the current direction the Red Sox are in, which is closer to a rebuild than it is to being a competitive team. The Red Sox owners have been known to get impatient. That’s why Chaim Bloom got hired in the first place.

Tiers of Success by GOAT91

What they said: Red Sox fans should not have World Series aspirations in 2021. But with the power of managing expectations, fans can still look back and smile. There are a few paths here, they can make the playoffs, build an elite farm, get needed bounce-backs from players like J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi, clear money off the books, or see success from players at the minor league level.

I also agree heavily with managing expectations. Look, I’m not going to lie. As it stands, if the Red Sox do not add anything at the major-league level (and they should, they have like $30 million left in their budget, and a lot of holes) this is a fourth place team in the AL East, after the frenzy of moves from the Yankees and Blue Jays. The Rays probably got worse, but they also will probably work their Rays magic with Luis Patiño, acquired in the Blake Snell trade. Even if he struggles, that team was the AL Champion last year, and didn’t lose many players from their roster.

My expectation for 2021 is just that. A team that is clearly below the top three teams in the division, with no interest in improving the team for the fool’s errand of contending in 2021. If the team is going to contend, it is going to require a lot of things going right: Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez both perfectly healthy and producing as soon as possible, a bounce back from J.D. Martinez or Andrew Benintendi (or ideally, both), the acquisition of another starting pitcher to put after Eovaldi, and a ton of good luck besides what is already listed. All told, it’s too much to expect. It would be foolish to expect this team to be at the top of the standings in October.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

That doesn’t mean we can’t hope, but tempering our expectations is more likely to lead to a semblance of success. Focus on the minor league team. Those are the players of tomorrow, ones that are going to be instrumental in the rebuild of the Red Sox, one way or another.

What Will Make a Positive 2021? : Bosoxsince89

What they said: The Red Sox can be competitive, and contend for a wild card slot in 2021. But that isn’t even the goal. The success of the 2021 season will be dependent entirely on the youth movement hitting Boston. The loss of minor league baseball in 2020 was huge. Having it back will help us know exactly what we have in our current farm system. Being able to watch our top tier (and even second tier) guys going at it will be more valuable than anything that the 2021 Red Sox accomplish on the field.

There are a lot of prospects in the Red Sox farm system that will be fun to watch in 2021. There’s the top guys in Triston Casas and Jeter Downs, then there’s that second tier of guys that includes everyone from Bryan Mata to Gilberto Jimenez.

But the prospect I am most interested in seeing in 2021 is Jarren Duran. I see a lot in his game that has me thinking we won’t be missing Jackie Bradley Jr. for long. And his time is coming soon. He’s already experienced success in 2019, and he spent 2020 improving pretty steadily developing his power output, and sounds like a more complete player. Some swing changes will make things interesting early on as he may struggle getting adjusted to it in game action.

Boston Red Sox Summer Workouts Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Assuming that Duran didn’t completely break his swing, I expect big things from him this season and for him to muscle himself into the Red Sox outfield by the end of August, and possibly even by the end of July. Having a player this close to the majors who could fill a major hole makes me think the future might be pretty bright. And that’s really all we can hope for right now.

Other FanPosts Around the Site

Benintendi Trade by Soxfan893: This poster makes an argument for trading Benintendi and replacing him with Marcell Ozuna, despite his defensive shortcomings. But that’s not all, they bring in Joc Pederson to pair with Hunter Renfroe in right field.

Exploring a Potential Benintendi Trade by purp-reign: This poster suggests a trade in which the Red Sox send out Benintendi, Michael Chavis, and Matt Barnes to acquire Ender Inciarte, Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Nick Castellanos, and Nick Senzel. They rationalize using the baseball trade simulator tool, and explain why it benefits the Sox. Fun read, but probably a bit too unrealistic.

Bright Spots by Soxfan893: This poster asks what your favorite bright spots were in the past, as they provide a couple of their own.

Lucchesi by Soxfan893: Busy as ever, Soxfan893 questions why Chaim Bloom wasn’t in the market to play facilitator, as the Mets were able to acquire Joey Lucchesi for a mid level prospect. Next, he posits that it would be fun to try and acquire some of the young Padres pitchers who are being squeezed out of the rotation mix.

And that’s it for this week! See you all for the next FanPost Friday!