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The Red Sox Have Become A Bad Joke

Boston Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran fails to catch a ball.
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale broke his wrist and will miss the rest of the season, the team announced today. The injury happened this past weekend while he was riding his bicycle. The broken wrist is not to be confused with the broken pinky finger Sale suffered in mid-July, after he was tagged in the hand with a line drive in his second start of 2022, which came so late in the season because he spent the first half recovering from a rib cage fracture that occurred in late February. This year, Sale will have had more broken bones than big-league starts.

After Sale’s broken pinky, there was still a chance he would return this season, assuming that the Red Sox were still competitive. The last couple of weeks shrank that possibility. It’s now more of a formality that Sale got hurt while already on the injured list, because today the Red Sox are 54-56 and occupy the bottom of the AL East. At this point, my time feels better spent focusing on what the 2023 NESN booth will look like. There will be no more Dennis Eckersley in the booth, which may lead to a sharp increase in Kevins.

All the encouraging vibes the Red Sox had while going 20-6 in June vanished once the month changed. The team went 8-19 in July, taking themselves out of the wild-card race. They forgot how to hit. They bled runs. They lost 28-5 to the Blue Jays. The lowest point of that game was when outfielder Jarren Duran lost a pop fly in the lights and ended up facilitating an inside-the-park grand slam for Raimel Tapia. Look at how far away he is from that baseball:

That slump altered the trade deadline plans for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. The Red Sox went from buyers to … I still don’t know what they were. They traded away catcher Christian Vázquez and reliever Jake Diekman but, in separate transactions, picked up Tommy Pham, Eric Hosmer, and a catcher who once jerked off in a parking lot. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported this week that people within the organization didn’t understand the strategy, and the article felt like a warning shot at Bloom, who’s been with the team since October 2019. The thing is, the deals do make some sense for the short term: replacing the absence of Vázquez; adding to outfield depth; getting the Padres to pay you to play someone who isn’t Bobby Dalbec. These moves were made to ideally retain some dignity in August and September, but not necessarily make a run in October.

So far this month, the Red Sox haven’t displayed much dignity. Last week the team lost three of four to the Kansas City Royals, who have even less to play for. In Sunday’s game, a 13-5 loss, Duran goofed twice in the seventh inning and then argued with some Royals fans. He said after the game that they were throwing “little bottle caps” at him.

This is where the Red Sox stand: not really trying but not really tanking either. They just exist, unpleasantly. The Baltimore Orioles, after those self-sabotaging trades, still have a more cheerful air about them than this team. Technically, Boston can still make the playoffs: FanGraphs gives them a 17 percent chance. I’m not sure even the Red Sox want that to happen.

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