LONDON -- For John Henry, the London Series ended up being a microcosm of the Red Sox entire 2019 season -- things on the field didn't go close to what he had planned.
And as frustrating as the two games against the Yankees might have been Saturday and Sunday, in which the Red Sox were outscored 29-21 in two losses, it is Henry's team's overall lot in life that offers the true frustration. That much was clear when the Sox' owner spoke with WEEI.com on the London Stadium field just prior to the series opener.
"I don’t feel good about the way we’ve played thus far," said Henry prior to seeing his team fall 11 games in back of the first-place Yankees.
Then when asked if the approach heading into July has to still be to wait and see what transpires over the next few weeks, he was quick with his response, "We’ve been waiting and seeing. It’s not wait and see. It’s 'you expect to pick it up' in the second half."
Henry seems genuinely baffled by the Red Sox' lot in life, having relied on the notion that bringing back the majority of last year's World Series-winning club would be the correct route to go. The route was the latest stab at the Sox figuring out how to repeat after winning a World Series. But, as the team's principal owner admits, it is an approach that probably should be reevaluated.
"I thought that all year, but we now have had four times in a row we have struggled after winning the World Series," said Henry regarding the vibe that things were going to start going in the right direction. "In 2014 I thought we had a lack of focus because we essentially had the same team in ’14 and finished last as we had when we won the World Series in ’13. The focus wasn’t as much on the field as it had been in ’13. We just don’t seem to be playing the way we played last year. Same team.
"My take is that maybe it isn’t the best thing in the world to bring back the same team in its entirety every time. You don’t want to break a team down. But maybe a few changes wouldn’t hurt. But the feeling is always different after you win, apparently."
So, what now?
A big conversation heading into this time of year is always whether or not the potential luxury tax penalties would prevent the Red Sox from making a significant move at the trade deadline. When asked about that dynamic Henry -- who has committed to the largest payroll in Major League Baseball for 2019 -- was pointed in his perspective on the matter.
"It’s not a luxury tax issue, it’s a question of how much money do we want to lose," he explained. "We’re already over budget and we were substantially over our budget last year and this year. We’re not going to be looking to add a lot of payroll. And it’s hard to imagine fielding a better team. If we play up to our capabilities we’ll be fine. That’s the question: Will we? We’re halfway through and we haven’t.
"It’s a worthy team because we invested. Two years in a row we have the highest payroll. It’s not a matter of investment, it’s a matter of playing well. If we play up to our capabilities we will easily make the playoffs. That’s how I see it."
One day and two losses after Henry's comments, it was a sentiment echoed by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
"We can win the World Series," Cora said emphatically after his team's 12-8 loss to the Yankees. "We just need to play better. We need to get better in every aspect. We can talk about the bullpen or we can talk about the outfielders, or we can talk about the defense or baserunning. We have the talent to win the World Series but we have to play better. I’ve been saying it since Day 1. It better happen sooner rather than later. It’s not that we’re running out of time but the lead is huge. It’s a huge lead and there are other teams around us that are playing good baseball. They’re trending up and we’re not doing that."