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Remember When John Henry Said the Sox Weren't Slashing Payroll and That's Just a Made Up Media Creation?

Here's a brief lesson on recent history as you try to process the brave new world you're in as a Red Sox fan. Maybe it'll help clear up any confusion as to why you woke up Tuesday emotionally invested in a team with some of the deepest pockets in baseball and by the time you went to bed you were rooting for a mid-market franchise.

John Henry, September 27, 2019 at a press conference:

“This year we need to be under the [Competitive Balance Threshold] and that was something we’ve known for more than a year now. f you don’t reset there are penalties so we’ve known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done.”

John Henry, January 13, in an email to his employee, Dan Shaughnessy:

“You might actually be right for once in that I don’t plan what I’m going to say before answering media questions in a live media event. But this focus on CBT resides with the media far more than it does within the Sox.  I think every team probably wants to reset at least once every three years — that’s sort of been the history — but just this week … I reminded baseball ops that we are focused on competitiveness over the next 5 years over and above resetting to which they said, ’That’s exactly how we’ve been approaching it.

“You seem to think Chaim [Bloom] was brought in to reduce payroll. That has simply not been the way [Fenway Sports Group] operates here or across the pond. We try to act responsibly so as to be consistently competitive."

The Sox have believed for a while they need to get under the CBT. Henry said so himself. But the CBT is a media creation. The focus is on competitiveness through the high octane, fan-friendly excitement that only a good reset can bring. Chaim Bloom wasn't brought here to slash payroll and get under the CBT. That's not how Fenway Sports Group operates. Despite, you know, all the payroll slashing he just did. 

Clear up confusion, create more confusion. Tomato, tomahto. 

I'll say this about Henry: At least he knows what he wants. He can't express it to save is life, either verbally or in writing. But he knows it. And what he wants is to make much, much more profit from FSG. His numbers crunchers have figured out that if he raises prices across the board (check), trades away a beloved 5-tool player with an MVP, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers and a ring who at 27 is about to hit his athletic prime (check), and only have to pay half of one of his top-of-the-rotation starters away to pitch for the Dodgers (check), his revenue will go up and his costs will go down. I didn't retain a lot of what we were taught in business classes, but I'm pretty sure that's how you calculate profit.

So at least I get his motivation. What I don't get is the people who are defending this by doing some variation on "they couldn't keep Mookie" or "Betts was going to walk and you needed to get something for him now." What on God's green Earth is their logic on that? If Betts is looking for $420 million and the market for talented, hard working, team-first, reliable right fielders in their prime is $420 million, well then that's what he's worth. If you can afford him, which the Red Sox can, then that's simply doing business as business is done. Supply, demand. (Note: That's two things I remember. How did I end up with a 3.0?) And for the life of me, I can't understand why anyone who isn't a Red Sox owner would care that the Red Sox owners have to pay the CBT. Or defend their decision not to. Since when do we celebrate multi-billionaires keeping more of their multi-billions, as opposed to spending it on something that benefits us? 

Naturally, people who are willfully ignorant about how things work have clapped at me for saying this because I've justified the Patriots not overpaying for valuable players. The two situations are completely different ecosystems and not the least bit comparable. So I won't wast the bytes it takes to explain it. But here are two words: Salary. Cap. The Patriots can afford what they're allowed to afford. Go over that amount and there are dire consequences. MLB set an arbitrary limit, above which you have to pay a Monopoly board-like Luxury Tax. John Henry owns a baseball team, a ball park, a regional TV network, a yacht that is worth more than my hometown, a motorsports team and a British football team, that is doing rather well.

But suddenly he's decided to run his team like the Boston Rays. Which is entirely his right, as the guy who bought the team. But that doesn't make it right. Or mean that anyone else has to defend this order to dump Mookie instead of paying him. But if that's how you're approaching it, congrats. Your guy is going to be making a lot more money than he did last year, thanks to getting rid of a generational player. I just don't know why that would make anyone but John Henry happy.