The Fenway Frauds finished under .500 again in 2015, making it three out of four seasons that the Boston Red Sox failed to break even during the regular season (on the field, at least). In fact, the 78 wins accrued by this roster was good enough for last place, again, in the AL East Division, too. It’s surprising the Red Sox didn’t fire the manager, considering the financial investment in the team’s personnel.

What is interesting is to see what happened after this season, but you’ll have to wait for that analysis next week. For now, here is how the Red Sox managed to finish last again, despite the usual cast of suspect players on the roster.

Exhibit A: Dustin Pedroia

We’re surprised, too, and it’s not the most damning of situations, but still … the former MVP’s OPS had declined for three straight seasons. Now, at age 31, it suddenly rebounded to its 2012 level—which still wasn’t that impressive (.797). But when you consider how much salary the Boston organization was sinking into his game ($12.5M for 2015), it makes more sense.

You also have to consider Pedroia was signed through the 2021 season for $84M more still. The team wasn’t going to accept a .712 OPS for that price, for example, the output he had to offer in 2014. He was a seemingly clean player up until this season, and of course, we don’t know for sure, but the return to some normalcy (career .805 OPS) at this age after years of decline is extremely suspicious.

Exhibit B: Alejandro De Aza

Yeah, we know he was a nobody, but that’s why the Sox finished last again. You just can’t give anyone PEDs and expect them to hit like Barry Bonds. With a lifetime .721 OPS, De Aza is no one’s idea of Bonds. But at age 31, a .636 OPS through the first 30 games of the season with Baltimore doomed him to getting dumped on the Red Sox, where he miraculously recovered (.831 OPS) over the next 60 games.

Voila! That was good enough to get the San Francisco Giants interested in him (of course). So, De Aza spent the final 24 games of the season with the Giants’ failed playoff chase. His .747 OPS in The House That Steroids Built clearly wasn’t good enough, though, as the S.F. organization took a pass on re-signing him. But the New York Mets gave him $5.75M for 2016, so his choices paid off handsomely.

Exhibit C: Clay Buchholz

Like Pedroia, this is a surprise, but contextually, we now have to wonder. He rode the rollercoaster with Boston from 2012 to 2014 with ERAs of 4.56, 1.74, and 5.34, respectively. And at age 30 in 2015, he got it back down to a 3.26 level—for the $12M he was suddenly owed by the Red Sox, not to mention the $13M was due in 2016. Boston could not tolerate spending that much for a 5-plus ERA, obviously.

His lifetime ERA (3.98) and his inability to stay healthy were always sources of inconsistency in his statistical lines, and even in this season “rebound” season, Buchholz managed only 113 1/3 IP. He did manage a career-best 8.5 Ks per 9 IP, though, making the salary boost he received before the year began even more circumstantially fishy in an analysis like these we do here every week.

Exhibit D: Alexi Ogando

As an age-30 reliever in Texas for the 2014 season, he posted a 6.84 ERA in 27 games. He was getting paid $2.6M to stink, as well. The Rangers decided not to re-sign him, but the Red Sox saw something in him that they “liked”—and they gave him $1.5M for his age-31 season. Ogando recovered, of course, to put up a 3.99 ERA in 64 games. That wasn’t enough for Boston to retain him, either, though.

The Atlanta Braves did bite, though, giving him a $2M contract for 2016, so the pay off was there for the player, as usual. A 3.94 ERA for the Braves in 36 games, however, got him released by July 2016, and there’s not much more to tell. The Red Sox threw him a lifeline, and he used it. The team used him as well, even though it didn’t pay off as well for the club as it did for the player.

Exhibit E: David Ortiz

Finally, Big Papi: at age 39, in the penultimate season of his career, he posted a .913 OPS. His 37 HRs were his highest output since 2006, and he walked 77 times, the most since the 2011 season. We never talk money much here with Ortiz, but after the 2012 season, the Red Sox re-signed him to a 4-year, $61M contract … despite the fact he played only 90 games at age 36 that year, too.

They knew what they were getting: a guaranteed PED user. Over the final four years of his career after signing that bloated deal, Ortiz managed to somehow play in 144 games a season as he got older and older. Pretty impressive health and strength for an aging ballplayer, don’t you think?

Conclusion: Aging vets and talent-free castoffs can’t win much, do they?

This 2015 roster featured up-and-coming stars Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, in addition to Eduardo Rodriguez and Jackie Bradley, Jr.—players that would all be foundations of the 2018 World Series champions who cheated via sign stealing. But they weren’t the core of the team in 2015, like Pedroia, Buchholz, and Ortiz were. Instead, guys like De Aza and Ogando were getting too much time.

With Ortiz’ retirement after the 2016 season, Boston would shift from PED-focused strategies to the sign-stealing one, as well. Nothing gold can stay, after all, right? Everyone has to evolve—even cheaters—or else they die. Basic Moneyball premise, twisted out of proportions by the Red Sox, sadly. But this is MLB, where cheaters do prosper, as we have shown.