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Tom Werner Thinks You’re a Moron

That’s the only way to read the Red Sox chairman’s comments at Winter Weekend.

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Rafael Devers Boston Red Sox Press Conference Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Friday night vibes couldn’t hide it. The blue sky aspirations for the 2024 (and beyond) Red Sox being painted in Springfield couldn’t hide it. Not even the (drunken?) musings of Jonathan Papelbon in his efforts at hosting The Cinco Ocho Show could hide one simple truth that’s become even more apparent this winter:

Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner thinks you—yes, YOU, dear reader—are an idiot.

He does not respect your intellect as a fan of the flagship team of the ownership group in which he holds a considerable stake. He does not believe that you’re capable of picking up on any of the baloney he’s been throwin’ around over the last few months. The 2024 edition of Red Sox Winter Weekend was just another chapter of this ongoing phenomenon.

Werner’s masterclass of malarkey during this offseason began, of course, on November 2, during the official introductory press conference for Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow —that’s right: we’re playin’ the hits, baby. In case you needed a refresher (I doubt that you do at this point), here’s what Werner told the media, per Sean McAdam of MassLive:

“We know that we have to be competitive next year,” said Werner. “So we’re going to be competitive next year. We’re going to have be full-throttle in every possible way.”

Asked specifically if the Red Sox will pursue high-end starting pitchers on the free agent market, Werner responded: “Let me just say that we don’t have any built-in restrictions.”

Fast forward to the prelude of Winter Weekend, when the Red Sox stood with just Lucas Giolito — a volatile option who, admittedly, could be a solid contributor if things break right — as the only free agent addition to their rotation, which struggled to consistently piece together lengthy starts during the previous campaign. The holiday decorations had long been packed away (at least for me; your mileage may vary) and the Red Sox had maybe approached half-throttle. Some transactions made during Breslow’s first winter on the job very well might be considered savvy down the line, but at this juncture they have hardly inspired dreams of another duck boat parade in the near future.

It was at that time when Werner decided he wanted to clarify his November proclamation:

Yeah. No shit that wasn’t “artful,” Tom. In fact: I don’t think “artful” even begins to explain it. One of the major heads of Fenway Sports Group set expectations sky high, only for the club to fall short of that mark with about a month to go until pitchers and catchers — maybe the word “artful” should be subbed out for “tactful” or perhaps “truthful.”

The walking-back of the Full Throttle Doctrine continued in Springfield on Friday, according to NESN:

“A lot has been made of two words,” Werner told reporters on Friday. “For me personally, full throttle is that I approach every year expecting us to be competitive, using all the levers at [Craig Breslow’s] disposal. That could be acquiring talent through trades, free agency, building a core, having a stronger pitching staff and having a stronger coaching staff. We weren’t good enough defensively last year.

“When I was saying full throttle, I admitted that (those weren’t) the most artful words; that applies to my own life,” Werner added. “We are accountable to our fans. We’re not happy, as Sam (Kennedy) said, for our performance last year. We expect to be better this year.”

Oh, the audacity of all of us to take note of just ~two words~ Mr. Werner! It’s not like you hold any major clout within the organization or anything; it’s not as if two words like that can set the tone for what to expect, right?!

Werner’s point about defense is especially fascinating to me, considering what else he mentioned to Tom Caron during Winter Weekend.

................Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight. It was solely on the defense, whatever you say Tom. The Red Sox were certainly no bueno with the leather this past season, there’s no denying that. But if you truly believe that league average defensive play would’ve vaulted the 2023 Red Sox from a club with a losing record to one that would’ve been right on the doorstep of the final wild card spot — during a season in which, not insignificantly, the third and final wild card team in the opposing league won the pennant — then I have ocean front property in Amherst I think you might be interested in.

I could sit here and dissect every single one of Werner’s suspect comments from the past weekend. I could mention that on the same night that Waylon Smithers Sam Kennedy said that the 2024 payroll for the Sox is expected to be lower than the previous season’s, Werner said the experience of Fenway Park is what’s being sold to fans when they buy a ticket...or maybe I’ll just let our fearless leader Dan Secatore play point guard (wrong sport, I know) on that one.

I could talk until I’m blue in the face about Werner touting the four world championships that’s been won by the team (“When I last looked, we won four World Series, which is more than any team in baseball since the year 2000,”), as if that doesn’t make him sound dangerously close to a delusional fan of another team that happens to play in the Bronx.

I could add that on the same day whene he made the previous point, he also mentioned that high payrolls do not directly correlate to rings (“I think you all know that the prize at the end of the year doesn’t go to the team with the highest payroll,”), as if the Red Sox didn’t have either the highest or second-highest Opening Day payroll during all four of those championship seasons—and as if their Opening Day payroll was never as low as sixth-highest in the league every time they made it to the American League Championship Series, dating back to 1999. In case you were wondering: Boston’s payroll on Opening Day 2K23—in a year when all the team needed was some average defense, according to Werner—was 13th-highest in the league.

All of this is to say that Werner was spewing a ton of crap this past weekend, expecting you and me and the rest of us to gobble it up. Again: that’s because he thinks we’re stupid.

You’re not stupid...perhaps you’re a bit crazy to read over 1,000 words of my ramblings, but you’re certainly not stupid.

Fans of this team know better than to bite on these comments from Werner. There’s a deep-seated skill across Red Sox Nation: the ability to know when someone is pissing on us while telling us that it’s actually raining.

You’re here in January after a bunch of nonsense just got dumped on you by the second-biggest head of the organization, while the head honcho didn’t show up to Winter Weekend at all due to a “scheduling conflict.” Color me skeptical on that front as well, by the way. You visit Over The Monster, log on to Twitter, or talk amongst your family and friends 12 months of the year to discuss this sport and this team that we love. You celebrate during the highs and you commiserate during the lows because you truly, genuinely, and deeply care. Forgive me if I don’t feel like everyone associated with the organization can say the same —I’m sure you can figure out who I mean at this point.

Perhaps no one put this notion in a more—to borrow a phrase from Werner—”artful” way than former Red Sox manager Terry Francona in his book written alongside Dan Shaughnessy, “Francona: The Red Sox Years.” Per a 2013 article from WBZ:

“Our owners in Boston, they’ve been owners for 10 years,” Francona said in the book excerpt. “They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don’t think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. It’s revenue, and I know that’s their right and their interest because they’re owners — and they’re good owners. But they don’t love the game. It’s still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It’s not their blood. They’re going to come in and out of baseball. It’s different for me. Baseball is my life.”

I love baseball. You love baseball. We here at OTM — the writers and the readers — love baseball. We may not always agree on the evaluation of players or strategies or whatever when it comes to our favorite ball club, but all of that comes from a mutual interest and appreciation.

Thankfully, I do think Red Sox fans are using that love and knowledge as a way to call out when the people running the ship think we’re morons. You won’t be able to bullshit a group like that.