Red Sox

Even Kevin Plawecki is a saga as the Red Sox pout their way to obscurity

"Removing a guy like that from the clubhouse is a big hit for a lot of guys."

Kevin Plawecki smiles and holds his right hand aloft for a high five as he rides in the Red Sox laundry cart in the dugout.
Kevin Plawecki didn't get a ton of rides in the Red Sox laundry cart himself, but he was the man behind its creation. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

COMMENTARY

One of the harder things to sense from afar is the real temperature of a team. Outside perceptions are just that, and so much is often lost in transit. Some, however, are easy enough to read.

Like, say, the Red Sox following Sunday’s trouncing of the Royals by blaring “Dancing on my Own” in the clubhouse. The walk-up song of departed catcher Kevin Plawecki, who was designated for assignment late Friday night.

Sending a loud message,” the Globe’s Pete Abraham noted.

The latest in a long line of messages from a group whose collective play certainly hasn’t amounted to anything loud or memorable.

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By the numbers, Plawecki was what he was. His offensive production regressed each of his three years in Boston, to .217/.287/.287 in this one, and the last two years he threw out just seven of 84 potential base-stealers.

He filled a role, to be sure, catching most of Nate Eovaldi and Michael Wacha’s starts. (The team’s two best starters when healthy, it should be noted.) Numbers, though . . . the Kevin Plawecki’s of the world don’t stay in the majors on numbers, and you’d be hard pressed to find a winning team that doesn’t have his type.

The laundry cart home run celebration? Plawecki’s creation.

“Dancing On My Own,” the anthem of the 2021 run to the ALCS? Obviously, Plawecki, the de facto team DJ.

We could go on, but you get it. The Plaweckis of the world get teams through the grind, help rookies adjust, and are beloved for their conscientiousness and camaraderie. They’re needed.

Thus, the pointed reaction for an end-of-the-roster guy.

“I don’t think you can truly appreciate the impact that a guy like Kevin has on a team like this, and last year’s team more specifically . . . unless you’re around and talking to guys,” Jared Carrabis said in his latest, a Plawecki-centric episode of his DraftKings podcast.

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“We’re not just all numbers. We’re human beings. And removing a guy like that from the clubhouse is a big hit for a lot of guys,” Rich Hill told reporters. “I would say everybody in here.”

“He’ll be one of these guys who will be in the game as long as he wants because he has a presence,” manager Alex Cora, himself a Plawecki type as a player, told reporters. “He knows how it works.”

“I understand it’s a tough decision, but you want to build a championship around guys like that,” the normally reserved Eovaldi told WEEI. “Extremely good guys in the clubhouse, I think sometimes that goes a little further than productivity or whatever on the field.

“It’s unfortunate to see him go, especially on those terms,” Eovaldi added. “I haven’t talked to Chaim [Bloom] or anybody else to get the true reasoning behind it.”

The Sox architect, for his part, told the Herald that moving on from Plawecki was “one of the hardest decisions, hardest conversations that I’ve been involved with in my career” and that there’s no way for such a move to “land well.”

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“Ultimately,” Bloom said, “I think we owe it to everybody to make the right baseball decisions.”

The true reasoning, to use Eovaldi’s words? Plawecki is going on 32 and a free agent to be, on a team with two young catchers in Reese McGuire and Connor Wong. If they add to that group, it will be at the top end, though that’s unlikely given how thin the market is.

Your average baseball player is admittedly ignorant of the business side, but Eovaldi can’t possibly not understand that. Especially not as a player who himself, given this year’s reminder of his injury history, might not be part of the team’s future.

But heck knows pouting has been this team’s stock and trade. The reaction to Plawecki is entirely understandable, as have most of the complaints and “messages” looked at individually. Collectively, they ring pretty hollow from an underachieving team sounding off into frustration it has authored as much as anyone.

The public and private griping about the team’s trade deadline approach. J.D. Martinez’s assertion that all the rumors flying around the team prior to said deadline played a role in their season-killing July.

Jarren Duran’s repeated sniping about those critical of his play in center field just not understanding how hard it is. Matt Strahm, a middle reliever who’s 149th in appearances the last seven years, complaining he’s never met the commissioner.

Xander Bogaerts’s season-long drama about the uncertainty of his future when he’s voluntarily opting out of his contract.

(For a completely understandable reason, mind you! But the fact remains he’s the one choosing to make his future home uncertain.)

We’re not even a year removed from much of this same composition being a beloved squad that reignited the passion for baseball in New England. Overstating it? Maybe, but you might just be forgetting what a pleasant surprise they were.

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Now, we’re back to 2020. The latter half of the feast or famine swing. Before a full-on flush of this roster, it’s composition come next February more or less impossible to judge right now.

In Eovaldi’s comments to WEEI, he mentioned two other players in the same vein as Plawecki, “guys that do the little things right on the field and off the field when you’re in the clubhouse.” Hunter Renfroe and Kyle Schwarber were also moved on from, and individually, the reasons were clear.

Renfroe was a flawed defender and delivered as good a year as could’ve been expected. Schwarber was always expected to be a short timer, and nobody blanched at the Sox passing on matching the $79 million Philadelphia gave him.

Both, however, failed as baseball moves for 2022. Jackie Bradley Jr. never should’ve been asked to be a regular, and the internal replacements for Schwarber at first — where he himself was shoehorned — didn’t come close to panning out.

That’s the preamble to Bloom gutting this roster to the studs and rebuilding it. His baseball decisions have been largely suspect, not helped by the natural delay of rebuilding with prospects who need time to develop. This season will go down as one where neither the bosses nor the ballplayers come out winners.

The whole thing’s been a frustrating debacle. And sometimes, the best response when you have no other answer?

Just go in your room and blast your favorite song on the stereo.

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