The Boston Red Sox are one of baseball's most storied franchises, but things haven't always been smooth sailing in Beantown.
The Red Sox won five World Series championships from 1903 to 1918, with Babe Ruth a member of the club for three of those titles. One of the greatest baseball players of all-time, Ruth was traded from Boston to the rival New York Yankees after the 1919 season in exchange for $100,000 in cash. Famously, the trade was featured on page 16 in the New York Times, ultimately an afterthought to New Yorkers.
Little did they know that that one trade would fuel a century-long rivalry and a nearly century-long curse that hasn't been forgotten to this day.
For those who don't know, the Red Sox did not win the World Series in their first season without Ruth. In fact, they failed to win the title in their first 84 seasons after trading the power-hitting pitcher and outfielder.
Boston ultimately broke this 86-year "Curse of the Bambino" in 2004 before winning another three rings in 2007, 2013, and 2018. Sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez helped key 2000's early victories, while fan favorites Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester helped lead the charge in the 2010s.
Now, just two years removed from one of the most exciting championships in Boston baseball history, the nine-time World Series champions are in a rebuild. After the 2019 season, Boston fired Dave Dombrowski, their President of Baseball Operations. He facilitated a handful of impactful deals, including those that led to the 2018 title, but didn't quite match what the organization was looking for in 2019.
Boston also moved on from Alex Cora, the former player who spent 2017 as the Houston Astros' bench coach before taking over as the Boston manager in 2018. Cora, of course, won the World Series in his first year at the helm in Boston before the team struggled in 2019. Matters took a turn for the worse at the end of the season when reports surfaced regarding the Astros' cheating scandal. Cora was named as one of the masterminds in the drama that led to the suspensions and eventual firings of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. Cora was also handed a one-year ban in the Astros' scandal, though Boston was also hit with a significant penalty for a minor yet still significant sign-stealing mishap of their own in 2018 (when Cora was the manager).
Dombrowski was replaced by Chaim Bloom, who joined Boston after a successful run as an executive with the Tampa Bay Rays, who possess one of baseball's smartest and most analytically-savvy front offices. Cora's successor, meanwhile, turned out to be Ron Roenicke, who was the bench coach at the time of Cora's firing.
Boston's 2020 season has been quite disappointing to this point. Thought to be contenders in an expanded 16-team playoff bracket, the Red Sox instead holds one of the worst records in baseball and is on track to receive a top-five pick as compensation for their woes.
While the team's record is quite poor, the same cannot be said about all of its players. Boston's infield consists of young players Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, and Bobby Dalbec. These four are all tied to Boston for quite some time, as are fellow infield prospects Tristan Casas and Jeter Downs, who was acquired along with catcher Connor Wong and outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the trade that sent fan-favorite stars Mookie Betts and David Price out west.
The outfield is made up of Verdugo, Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Verdugo is the face of Boston's future with his work ethic and fiery attitude. Benintendi is a fan-favorite who can swing the bat, while Bradley Jr. has a flair for the dramatic with his clutch hitting and league-best skills in the outfield. Finally, Martinez provides a power threat and solid veteran presence in an otherwise young lineup.
Christian Vazquez holds down the fort behind the dish, where he is known for his defensive prowess and proven success throwing out would-be base-stealers. He does the catching for a starting rotation that, when healthy, includes the likes of star Chris Sale, underrated southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez, 2018 World Series hero Nathan Eovaldi, and pitching metric wizard Martin Perez. The bullpen, while in need of improvement, consists of hurlers such as talented closer Matt Barnes. The pitching staff lacks depth though, and with injuries plaguing some of the best Red Sox arms this year, they have struggled mightily.
Other Boston prospects include pitchers Jay Groome, Noah Song, Thad Ward, Bryan Mata, and Tanner Houck, infielders Blaze Jordan and C.J. Chatham, and outfielder Jarren Duran.
Ultimately, despite their struggles over the past two seasons, the Boston brass has constructed a good front office and group of prospects and young players. Together, this combination should bring the Red Sox back to the postseason soon, as they seek their 10th World Series championship.