The Fenway Frauds miniseries has reached the 2017 season, and it’s the first one without lifetime cheater David Ortiz since 2002! Shocking, we know, as he was such a staple for Boston Red Sox success and a poster boy for everything wrong with the organization for what seemed like forever. Now what would the team do without him?!

Well … the team won 93 games again to claim the AL East Division title, but they lost the Division Series to the cheatin’ Houston Astros—and learned something in the process. This team may have been the most “clean” of any Red Sox team since the late 1990s, in truth. And it reminds the organization that it was never going to be enough to win the World Series, a la 1918-2003.

Exhibit A: Mitch Moreland

Typical suspect, in truth, as at age 30 in Texas the season prior, he saw his OPS drop to a career-worst .720 over a full season. But the Boston organization still signed him to a 2-year, $12M deal for some reason(s). And again, we know what those reasons were, and it paid off for Boston, as Moreland boosted his OPS to .769 in 2017 and then maintained that through 2018 before he got even more money after.

The Red Sox gave him another $9M combined for 2019 and 2020, after they won the World Series with him in 2018. So, it turned out to be a win-win scenario, again, for the employer and employee with no scruples. Interestingly, his OPS dropped off a cliff when he left the Boston organization for San Diego in 2020. We wonder why? Uh huh …

Exhibit B: Eduardo Núñez

This is a unique case: Núñez was struggling for the San Francisco Giants at The House That Steroids Built in 2016 and 2017, to the tune of a .749 OPS. He was 30 years old this season, as the Giants traded him to the Red Sox in late July, where suddenly his OPS leaped in Fenway Park up to .892 over the final 38 games he played in 2017. And that got him a $9M contract for 2018 and 2019 combined.

Again, the pattern holds true: mediocrity blossoms in Boston, and the rewards are passed around aplenty. After Núñez signed that deal, his numbers declined sharply, and he was out of baseball before the 2021 season began. But it paid off for him and the team with the 2018 World Series title, so no complaints from either party, right? Right.

Conclusion: What the Astros taught the Red Sox

Maybe it was that PEDs were yesterday’s news? We know the Astros cheated in 2017, and we know the Red Sox hired Alex Cora to be their manager in 2018 after he had been the Houston bench coach in 2017. Electronic sign stealing became the new way to do it the wrong way, and of course, the Boston organization has been at the forefront of doing things the wrong way for awhile now.