John Tomase

Red Sox season begins with final gut punch to fans who deserve better

A disappointing offseason ends with one final spasm of inaction.

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The phrase coup de grace has been defanged over the centuries to suggest a finishing touch delivered with artistic flair, but its original meaning was much grittier -- more like the final blow of a mercy killing.

It might help one understand the latter usage to see it in a sentence: "The Red Sox put the coup de grace on their miserable offseason Tuesday by watching free agent left-hander Jordan Montgomery sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks for a lot less than anyone expected."

With opening day set for late Thursday night in Seattle after everyone has gone to bed, it always made sense that the Red Sox would end their winter of our discontent with one final shrug. For all their swings and misses, they still stumbled into an 11th-hour opportunity to address their biggest weakness and rectify their most glaring failure by signing Montgomery to anchor a rotation that's already missing Lucas Giolito.

But no matter how much the Baseball Gods dared, they refused to budge.

So the World Series-winning lefty instead signed a one-year, $25 million deal with the small-market D'Backs that includes a vesting option for $25 million. At most, he's looking at two years and $50 million. That's it for a pitcher projected to command triple that when the offseason began.

This final spasm of inaction is the perfect bridge to a 2024 season that might as well be subtitled, "Just wait until we care again! It's really going to be something!" Of course the Red Sox would watch Montgomery sign elsewhere, because they're stubbornly clinging to the misguided notion that they cannot spend a meaningful cent until Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony, and Kyle Teel are, what, All-Stars? Back-to-back-to-back MVPs? Nobel Prize winners?

The Red Sox haven't felt this directionless since the early 1990s, when it took the arrival of Dan Duquette to inject life into the operation. Despite being blessed with one of the best managers in baseball and some intriguing young pieces, ownership has steadfastly refused to devote resources to the present roster.

There's a sentiment that the Red Sox aren't yet positioned to go all-in, but two-year deals by definition are hedges. Signing Montgomery would've helped them remain competitive in 2024 while creating the possibility of something long-term if both sides liked the fit.

Instead, the Red Sox did nothing (they undoubtedly would've "checked in" on him until the end of time) except remind us the upcoming season isn't a priority.

Entering Year No. 5 and Chief Baseball Officer No. 2 of their perpetual rebuild, they've yet to articulate a compelling vision of where this is all headed or how long we're supposed to put up with it.

In a normal year, we'd be using the day before the opener to dissect the roster and hypothesize likely roads to contention. But undertaking such exercises in the face of overt organizational indifference feels like a betrayal of the readership. If the Red Sox aren't going to treat this like a competitive season, then why should we?

So in place of a season preview (spoiler alert: they're gonna finish last again), we give you one final screed. The Red Sox as we knew them no longer exist. There's little we can do except hope that one day they return. Maybe they won't whiff on the next Jordan Montgomery when he falls into their lap.

Until then, we'll give the final word on this matter once again to the French. Does this Red Sox season have you down? Well, c'est la vie. Loosely translated: life sucks.

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