The 2020 schedule didn't begin until the last week of July, but as far back as February, it seemed pretty obvious where this Red Sox season was headed.
When the Red Sox shipped Mookie Betts (and David Price) to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team was saying the quiet part out loud. The 2020 season would be a period of transition.
That much had seemed likely as far back as September, when the club dismissed Dave Dombrowski, and a month later, introduced Chaim Bloom as his replacement.
A team doesn't hire someone diametrically different than its current chief baseball executive -- as Bloom was to Dombrowski -- without signaling a major shift in the way it operated. And if Dombrowski was the very embodiment of a win-now executive -- trading prospects for established stars, signing top (and costly) free agents -- what does that make Bloom?
While spending 15 years with the prototypical small-market team, Bloom was mainly focused on player development, uncovering competitive advantages, exploiting market inefficiencies and discovering innovative approaches.
In much the same way a team often replaces a hardo disciplinarian in the dugout with a manager known to be more player-friendly, the Red Sox were reversing course at the front office level. Bloom was the instrument by which they sought to achieve that change.
The Betts trade was another not-so-subtle declaration. Either the Sox couldn't or wouldn't sign Betts, so they set out to get the best possible return for him before they were left with no return at all. When the team announced the deal, Bloom conceded that the trade, which cost the Sox one of the game's handful of best players along with a fairly dependable veteran starting pitcher and brought back a young major leaguer and two prospects, would likely leave the Sox, for the time being at least, worse.
After the pandemic caused a shutdown of the game for several months and it became obvious that no fans would be allowed to attend games this year, the Red Sox had themselves the perfect out -- which they didn't act on.
In the past, the team has flinched at any suggestion of