Jim Davis/Globe Staff
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Slugger J.D. Martinez is a now a member of the 2018 Boston Red Sox. I haven’t been this excited about a Sox acquisition since Jack Clark was brought on board back in 1991.
Anybody remember Jack Clark? He was the big-money, big-ticket righty slugger who was going to hit 50 homers over the Green Monster. Unfortunately, he hit 28 in his first season, then five in his second season, went bankrupt, and was out of baseball after playing only 221 games with the Red Sox.
Seriously, I love the Martinez signing. What’s not to love? It’s not our $110 million the Sox just committed over the next five seasons. The Sox need homers and Martinez hits homers. He hit 45 last year in a mere 119 games (432 at-bats) with the Tigers and Diamondbacks. Who cares that he is working with his fourth team at the age of 30? There’s no need to be alarmed at the fact that he was released by the Astros in 2014, or traded by the Tigers last summer. He is a certified slugger and brings badly needed home run power to the team that finished last in the American League in homers in 2017.
I love the 2018 Sox’ chances now. Martinez becomes the everyday DH, which means that Hanley Ramirez has to play first base, which means pine time for good guy Mitch Moreland. The Sox just became deeper and more threatening. They are coming off a 93-win season and they have their whole team back, PLUS a guy who hit 45 homers last year. How does that not make them the favorites in the American League East?
The weird part, of course, is the Sox’ obtuse insistence that they loved their team before the Martinez signing. We knew Boston had a big offer on the table and we knew agent Scott Boras had no other offers. We knew this was a staredown between Dave Dombrowski and Boras. And yet day after day, every person at JetBlue Park insisted that they loved the Red Sox just the way they were — with all of the 2017 division champion roster back for another go. In those hours, status quo was the Way To Go.
Dombrowski said it. David Price said it. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia said it.
We like our team very much just the way it is, thank you.
Nobody offered that the Sox might just need a tad more power to compete with the muscle-bound New York Yankees.
The height of this denial/diversion came Monday morning when owner John Henry made himself available to the media for his annual presser. Accompanied by ubiquitous wingman Chairman Tom Werner, Henry insisted that everything was just swell with the 2018 Red Sox and that any problems with the 2017 edition were the fault of manager John Farrell, hitting coach Chili Davis, and rest of the Sox coaching staff. Those dopes. To Henry, Boston’s 2017 playoff flop against the Houston Astros was owed to a bad “approach.’’ The roster of returning players was just fine.
“People have talked about how we haven’t made a lot of changes,’’ Henry insisted. “In my mind we’ve made significant changes. To address some of the things that were brought up, I do think we had issues last year that we’ve addressed those issues . . . we made a lot of changes other than just the manager.’’
“You haven’t noticed?’’ said Henry. “Who did we bring back [on the coaching staff?]. Dana [LeVangie was retained]. Anyone else? From my perspective we made a lot of changes. I think our approach last year was lacking offensively. We had issues that the players have already talked about, so I don’t need to talk about it, but I agree with what’s been said. But I don’t agree that we haven’t made much in the way of changes. These are significant changes.’’
When we asked him if there might be a need to change the mix of players, Henry insisted, “No, I think we have the right team. People don’t like us apparently saying that we won the division last year, but we had the best offense in the American League the year before last. We had significant pitching that was injured last year. I think we are very strong and people are highly underrating this team. If we have the right approach I think we’ll be very successful.
‘’I think we would have had more significant power last year if we’d had a different approach. That’s my opinion. It may not be true, but I think we have a very good offense.’’
Less than seven hours after making that statement, Henry doled out $110 million and blasted through the luxury tax threshold to acquire the power he said he did not need.
As with every professional sports organization, the fundamental rules apply. Don’t listen to anything any of them say, just watch what they do.
The sensitive, image-obsessed Red Sox have done right by the fans on this one. They have spent big dough to try to improve the team and bring a championship to Boston. They have provided the fireworks and the buzz we crave.
Let the games begin. All of a sudden, the Sox roster and lineup look pretty darned good.
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