The Red Sox set up a table, four chairs, and four microphones for their end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park Thursday morning.
A door opened and the seats were filled by team president Sam Kennedy, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, general manager Brian O’Halloran, and manager Alex Cora.
Conspicuous by their absence were principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner.
The Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays spent Thursday preparing for the playoffs after finishing, respectively, 21, 14, and 8 games ahead of the Sox in the American League East.
Are Henry and Werner upset about this? What do they think about their team being only four games over .500 in Bloom’s three regular seasons in charge?
The Sox are fond of calling Henry (who also owns the Globe) and Werner the stewards of the organization. That suggests they’re responsible for the direction of the team, and this is a team that has made the playoffs once in the last four seasons.
“They’re as accountable as anyone in our organization; they want to win as much as anyone in our organization,” Kennedy said. “In terms of media briefings and events like this, that’s part of our job responsibility to sit down and do this sort of year-end download.”
Public accountability would be welcome. Fenway was the most expensive ballpark in the majors to attend this season, according to several surveys, and Kennedy said season-ticket prices would be going up by 1.5-2 percent for 2023.
What was once a roster studded with star players is in danger of growing more anonymous with J.D. Martinez and Nate Eovaldi headed for free agency and Xander Bogaerts expected to join them.
Cora meets with reporters twice a day during the season, and Bloom has done long interviews with several outlets in the last two weeks. We’re all familiar with what they think. They truly are accountable. Whether you like their answers or not, they do answer.
Henry was at Fenway Park Monday and engaged in what appeared to be an animated conversation with Bloom during the game, based on photos taken by the Globe’s Jim Davis.
Sox fans deserve to hear directly from the owners about how they feel and what their plans are.
The same owners who once eagerly went to war against George Steinbrenner and celebrated deep into the night at Dodger Stadium in 2018 must have something to say about having the fifth-largest luxury-tax payroll and coming in last.
Are they angry? Are they hopeful? Will heads roll if the team doesn’t get back in the postseason next year? That’s all kept behind the brick walls of Fenway as others speak in their place.
So what does Kennedy think of the direction the team has taken in three years under Bloom?
“It’s been frustrating in terms of the record in the American League East this year,” he said. “But we couldn’t be more confident in our entire baseball operations leadership.”
The Sox had a worse run differential this season than the Angels, Rangers, and White Sox. They can’t be that confident.
Bloom acknowledged he needed to build a better roster and Cora spoke again about imbuing the players with a greater sense of urgency.
Bloom seemed genuine in wanting to sign Bogaerts to a long-term contract, although he did throw in the caveat of it needing to make sense for both sides. There were similar comments about not letting homegrown hitting machine Rafael Devers get to free agency after next season.
Such deals would be expensive, and there’s an industry perception the Sox aren’t swimming in those deep waters anymore. Kennedy pushed back on that.
“I anticipate our ownership group continuing to invest across our baseball operation — whether that’s major league payroll, whether that’s international signings, scouting, player development, analytics, infrastructure, medical,” he said.
“The commitment to spending has been there. How those resources have been allocated, the underperformance, just not getting it done. Again, that’s on us. That’s not an ownership-level thing. That’s on our level.”
Analytics, infrastructure, and all the rest are certainly needed. But the fans want to see the All-Star left side of their infield back.
Bloom has done well building up the farm system, and the minor moves that paid off in a big way with players like Garrett Whitlock, Nick Pivetta, and John Schreiber were great. If only out of a desire to keep his job, he understands this winter has to be about big moves.
Cora said next season started Wednesday, when several players spoke after the game at his behest about their expectations for 2023. Cora is not one to make failure a habit.
Neither are Henry and Werner. They built a sports empire that started with buying the Red Sox in 2001. Count the trophies; it’s been a huge success.
Now their foundation has cracks. Be nice to hear how they plan to fix that.