Red Sox owner John Henry absolutely nailed one portion of his lengthy message to Red Sox fans on Monday explaining the thought process behind last week’s Mookie Betts trade.
“I understand there is probably little I can say today that will change how you feel about this, but it is my responsibility to try,” Henry wrote in a statement posted on the team’s Twitter account.
It appears he did not change many minds.
Henry went on to explain how losing Betts in free agency next offseason and getting nothing in return (except a compensatory draft pick) was simply too much of a risk, even for one of the more higher-spending teams in baseball.
“The baseball organizations we compete against have become much more strategic and thoughtful about how and where they spend their resources in their quest for titles,” Henry said. “We cannot shy away from tough decisions required to aggressively compete for World Series. This is what led to this trade.”
Henry, however, may have lost Red Sox fans even before he got to this point. The 70-year-old tried relating Betts going to the Dodgers to the team’s trade of Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs before the trade deadline in 2004. This appeared to come off as disingenuous to Red Sox fans, given where Betts and Garciaparra were at their careers at the time of the moves.
Betts, 27, is one season removed from the American League MVP and leading the Red Sox to a World Series. Garciaparra, though a fan favorite in Boston, had just turned 31 at the time of the trade and was recovering from an Achilles injury that had severely limited his range at shortstop.
“Some of you no doubt felt the same way in 2004 when we traded Nomar, who like Mookie was a hugely popular, homegrown player,” Henry wrote. “All of us in the organization hoped we could avoid ever having to go through something like hat again. But most clubs face similar dilemmas from time to time.”
Any lingering anger focused at Red Sox management quickly dissipated as the Red Sox won the World Series that year, the franchise’s first championship in 86 years.
“That was a reach. Nomar was 30, wasn’t one of top 5 players in the game at that point and had clearly soured on Boston,” The Globe’s Peter Abraham wrote.
“Comparing a breaking-down 2004 Nomar to a hitting-his-prime 2020 Mookie is an all-time GTFO,” The Ringer’s Bill Simmons wrote.
The Red Sox winning this year’s World Series might be the only way for Henry to make Red Sox fans forget about this controversial Betts deal.