Last year's Red Sox were a pleasant surprise. Easy to root for underdogs who were making a run during a rebuilding year. Expectations were low. The injury bug really didn't hit except where we expected it (Sale). Bogey, Devers, and JD did their thing. But the list of over performers was long. Eovaldi had a career year. ERod had a career year. Kike came out of nowhere to stabilize center and had a career year. Renfroe nearly tied his career year. Nick Pivetta nearly tied his career year. Christian Arroyo had a career year (though that wasn't too difficult). Garrett Whitlock came out of nowhere to become Superman. Even Barnes tied his career year - although that was done in an all star first half. Dalbec flashed in the 2nd half as a rookie.
Too have that many overachievers was amazing and the playoff run was fun as hell. But if anybody expected that performance to carry into 2022 was kidding themselves. First of all, Bogey, Devers, and JD would have to bring it back for another year. Check. A little more or a little less, they've been themself. Correction. Devers has gone MVP mode. So double check.
Now let's look at the next level of performers. Trevor Story. Fantastic defense, but he left his bat in Colorado. Career down year. Eovaldi injury prone and performance has been spotty post injury. Pivetta is actually doing it again which feels weird. Christian Vazquez (sniffle) has been good, but as his offense got better, his defense from 20-22 just hasn't been on par with the first 4 years of his career where he was probably top 3 as a defensive catcher. And now gone. Verdugo has dropped off the planet and should be on the bubble if we had any choice. Kike has been injured and likely not performing because of that which forces the ghost of JBJ onto the field. Dalbec is not totally MIA. Sale is also MIA.
If you tune down the injuries and add 6 wins through better performance from Eovaldi, Kike, and Sale (breaks a rib?), Sox would be tied for first in the Wild Card. If you add in ok years from Dalbec and Story, you get another 2-3 wins. Alas, these fictional scenarios didn't happen and Devers MVP year is being flushed.
Do we expect any of this to change? Eovaldi is healthy now and looked better in his last start. But other than that, it's hoping that health and performance improve. Should we have bought at the trade deadline? Several games back of a crowded wild card race with expectations of a continuing injury bug? Doesn't sound like a winning recipe. Can you buy your way out of it? That's always an option, but you put yourself into cap hell to marginally increase your chances through the wild card.
As much as people hated Bloom's moves at the trade deadline and last offseason, the Yankees still would be a lock for division. And the injury bug really prevented the team from getting a foothold in the race. As much as the Sox are in perpetual "We'll always in the Wild Card race" mode, this was not the year that Bloom was going to throw in all his cards.
I'm as hopeful as anyone for THIS YEAR. Right now, they still have a 20-25% chance of making the playoffs, because they ARE a good team. Just not a great one. However, I'm really excited for next year. This is the year Bloom will really prove (or disprove?) his worth. The farm system is stronger for potential trades. The cap is healthier with all the money coming off the books (bye bye David Price). Devers has leveled up. Some of the kids have grown. Sure, there will be lots of holes, but there will also be lots of money.
Looking forward to a great August/September and REALLY excited about what should be a very lively offseason.