Chaim Bloom, right, chief baseball officer of the Boston Red Sox, responds to a media question as General Manager Brian O’Halloran, left, and President and CEO Sam Kennedy look on during the team’s seventh annual Winter Weekend on Friday night in Springfield, Mass. Hoang “Leon” Nguyen/The Republican

Red Sox Winter Weekend is an annual convention of fans meant to set the tone for the coming season. With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in less than a month, it’s a time for players to congregate and feel the love of Red Sox Nation.

The players felt exactly that. There were huge ovations for Rafael Devers, Kiké Hernández, and other players making the trip to western New England on a snowy weekend. Manager Alex Cora felt the love as he signed autographs and took selfies with fans.

Team executives got a different reception.

At Friday night’s Town Hall, Principal Owner John Henry joined Team President Sam Kennedy and Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom in a question-and-answer session that lasted more than an hour. They didn’t just hear questions, they heard boos and heckling that made it clear this fan base is unhappy with recent decisions made by the team, specifically the decisions that led to the losses of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts.

The management team faced the criticism and weathered a turbulent session. They tried to explain where this team is headed.

“We live and die through every game,” said Henry. “I know last year was disappointing. We’re going to have disappointing years….


“We’re fully invested. Not just monetarily.”

That brought cheers from the crowd, which wanted to know if the Red Sox are still as important to the Fenway Sports Group portfolio as it was 20 years ago. Henry and Kennedy assured the crowd the team is. They vowed to be on the road to a team that can compete for a title year after year.

Not many people expect the Sox to contend for a title this year. You’ll be hard pressed to find any baseball experts picking this team higher than fourth in the American League East, which just might be the toughest division in the history of baseball.

Yet Cora told me he thinks this team will be better than people expect. It will need to stay healthy, and that’s been an issue in recent years for players like Hernández and Christian Arroyo and pitchers like Chris Sale, James Paxton and Corey Kluber.

It was interesting that part of the weekend included a tribute to the 2013 championship team that will celebrate its 10th anniversary this season. In January of that year no one had high hopes for a team that had finished in last place the previous season. The signings of Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes and Ryan Dempster were met with a collective shrug by Sox fans.

No one, yours truly included, is predicting that this team will follow the same Cinderella path the 2013 Red Sox took to October. Yet you could draw parallels between those signings with the ones Bloom agreed to this year. Justin Turner was the leader of a championship team in L.A. Adam Duvall has the same type of right-handed pull power that made Napoli a success in Boston. Kluber has two Cy Youngs and is looking to finish his career with a bang.


There are plenty of ifs surrounding this year’s team. Cora will need a lot of them to be answered the right way if his team is going to finish above .500. He believes in his group and thinks they can answer the call.

It was clear Friday night the fans don’t share that enthusiasm. It was equally clear that the Red Sox understand their frustration. Bloom told me he appreciates the anger, and that part of what makes Boston great is that fans expect their team to contend.

“I’m from Philly,” said Bloom. “I get it.”

Like Philadelphia, Boston won’t settle for a last-place team. That’s what the Red Sox have been in two of the last three seasons. If it doesn’t change soon the boos and heckling will only get louder.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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