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Red Sox Ownership is Using the Nomar Trade as an Obvious Talking Point to Justify the Mookie Betts Trade

Position players haven't even gotten off the planes and set foot in Ft. Myers yet, and we're already being treated to what will, in all likelihood, be the most entertaining part of Red Sox Spring Training, if not the whole 2020 season. And that's watching ownership scramble hysterically trying to prove to the people they've just raised prices on that they are not about to be witness to a disaster. And obviously Priority One is justifying the Mookie Betts deal. 

John Henry is the mayor of Amity, walking around in a loud sport coat, ripping cigs and telling anyone who'll listen everything is great while chewed body parts are washing up on all the beaches. The difference is, Larry Vaughn was good at it. At least when he said "it's a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time," you bought into it. Henry and his co-owners are transparent to the point of invisibility.

Starting with the way their state run media has carefully worded and then reworded the fact one of the guys they got in return for Betts was involved in a sexual assault investigation when he was in the Dodgers' system:

"Proximity," "peripheral," and "police matter." I'm sure the next time The Boston Globe mentions Aaron Hernandez they can refer to those times he was "firearm incident adjacent."

So Sox ownership held a press conference today at Jet Blue that opened with Henry reading the text of that carefully worded, PR Department-crafted Tweet. Awkwardly. Like the awkward kid with cooties in your 4th grade class having to read a passage out of "Charlotte's Web" and you don't whether to feel bad for him or draw dicks on his book when he's not looking. Here's the money passage of Henry's prepared statement:

"So, on one level, when I say I understand how many of you feel about this trade with the Dodgers, I know many of you – particularly our youngest fans – are disbelieving or angry or sad about it. I know it’s difficult and disappointing. Some of you no doubt felt the same way in 2004 when we traded Nomar, who like Mookie was a hugely popular, homegrown player."

Huh? Get it? Remember that time Nomar got traded you were all like "Whoa" and we were like "Yeah, right?" and you were like "I loved Nomar. This sucks," and we go "I know but like we had to do it" and it so totally worked out and ended an 86 year drought and this is like the exact same thing, amrite?

And in case we didn't pick up on the comparison, because it was so subtle, Tom Werner brought it up again. 

“We’ve been in this position before. John alluded to the Nomar trade. We have made unpopular trades. They haven’t all turned out right. Hopefully we’ll look at this trade and see the benefits of it as time goes on."

And you know that rule that says in order to get a message across, you need to say it three times? That is, when you're trying to get a message across to children and people you think are imbeciles? I believe John Henry has heard of that, because he later answered a question with this:

"As I said, we faced this in 2004, I believe. Very similar situation."

Uncanny. It's almost as if they planned it this way. I mean, as opposed to arguing dumping Mookie Betts and eating half of David Price's contract for guys who in no way, shape or form will replace Mookie Betts and David Price makes this a better team. No, instead they come up with a clumsy, hamhanded comparison to another fan favorite from 16 years ago. It's their way of saying we're just being hysterical and we need to calm down. Like it's all just an emotional reaction and not that everyone's looking at this 2020 and recognizing the obvious: That they're not built to compete.

Just to correct the revisionist history here. When Theo Epstein made the Nomar trade on July 31, 2004, yes, it was a dark moment. I had two kids with closets and drawers filled with Nomar gear. He was my mom's favorite and she had passed a few months prior. But the fact was, he had been declining. He was having a hard time staying on the field. And as Epstein said, the Sox were among the best teams in the league in terms of pitching and hitting and still struggling. Which left only defense to blame. So he got back Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz to play short and first, respectively. And their record went from 25-26 in June and July to 39-17 in August and September. 

It wasn't a salary dump like the Betts and Price trade was. It wasn't about getting under some luxury tax threshold while charging the most for a night at a ballpark in the league. It was a change in philosophy. Yes, money was a factor. But it was ultimately a baseball decision, made by a GM, not by accountants. And trying to spin it as exactly the same situation now as it was 2004 - three times - is an insult to the intelligence of their public who keep the lights on at America's Most Beloved Ballpark [tm]. But I wouldn't expect anything less at this point.

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