By MyFM's Jake Archer - With almost any professional baseball organization, a first place finish and a trip to the postseason will constitute a successful year. The Red Sox are not just any other organization, however. Despite spending 105 days in first and taking home a second straight American League East title, the Sox had issues last year. It was something that the fans and the media knew was more than likely true, but now players are actually acknowledging it as well.
While speaking with the media in Fort Myers today, Sox stars Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts both let on that the clubhouse last year wasn't ideal. Betts said that the 2017 Sox felt "tension in the locker room." He added that the Sox "could've had more fun" especially in the rough times. Mookie has really been somebody that fans have called on to step up as a young leader for the team and he looked like he was shying away from that last season. Now at least, it seems he's willing to change that. "I'm going to approach things a little differently this year as far as, if I'm not playing well or if we're losing or whatnot, I can do my best to try to find a way to get everybody back happy, smiling, exciting and going to play," Betts said.
The Sox will need a change from someone like Betts because the roster remains largely unchanged. That scares me a bit because it feels like the chemistry did not get changed up enough. I'm sick of the team relying on a guy like Dustin Pedroia who was more of a divider than anything last year. We need players with a different voice and it helps if they are actually contributing to the team like Mookie does.
Xander Bogaerts went on to expand on what Betts had to say. He spoke of "headbutts" and "disagreements" while agreeing with the the notion that the group needs to turn that around this season. "I mean we all know. We all know what was going on," Bogaerts said. He mentioned how he didn't want to get into detail and he thought the quicker they moved on from last year the better. I think it's safe to say what the shortstop was alluding to was a few of the incidents last year that resulted in a really toxic enviornment such as Dustin Pedroia's and Manny Machado's exchange, John Farrell on the hot seat, David Price blowing up on reporters, the Price-Eckersley feud and WatchGate. Bogaerts said they had "a lot going on."
The strange thing, and something that makes me really uneasy about if the team will move forward the right way, is who Bogaerts claimed were the team's leaders. He named Pedroia, Rick Porcello and David Price, in that order. Porcello, I'm perfectly fine with. That guy is a grinder and I like the way he approaches almost everything even when he is struggling on the mound. Pedroia, as I've said, seems to be completely the opposite. Price hasn't handled things well at all either. In the absence of David Ortiz, the clubhouse got away and it's going to have to be fixed by guys like Betts, Bogaerts, Chris Sale and Jackie Bradley Jr. New manager Alex Cora will obviously have to do his part as well.
The last thing I really did like to hear though, was Bogaerts talk about how the chemistry was in 2013. He was called up that year to contribute to a team that ultimately won a championship and he saw how things are supposed to be. He remembered how that team was "like brothers" and what type of bond they shared. Bogaerts also hit the nail on the head by saying that in recent years, they've had better teams talent-wise but the reason that 2013 team won was because they had that special "it" factor. If he can try to bring some of that to this team, and Sox teams for years to come, we'll be in good shape.