News broke Tuesday morning that Red Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito has a serious elbow injury and might end up needing season-ending surgery to repair it. 

The sports fan mindset causes us to go into problem-solving mode here and a handful of circumstances converge to push us toward a conclusion. The process: 

The Red Sox should obviously sign Snell and/or Montgomery, right? Imagine that offense with a Snell-Montgomery-Pivetta-Bello-Crawford rotation and Houck shifting to the bullpen. The Red Sox would look like a playoff team, even in the all-in AL East. 

It also isn't my money the front office would be throwing around and Red Sox owner John Henry seems awfully content to just let this team flounder in mediocrity, or worse, as long as he doesn't have to spend a ton of money. 

The dialing back seems to have happened after the COVID shutdown in 2020, though the start of the downturn came a little bit before. From 2000 until 2020, the Red Sox were routinely toward the top of baseball in player payroll. In those 20 seasons, their Opening Day payroll was in the top two 10 times. It was No. 1 in 2018 (the year they won the World Series) and 2019. Then the Mookie Betts trade happened and COVID hit. 

The Red Sox fell to eighth -- the lowest it had been this century -- in 2021 and sat 12th last year. As things currently stand, they are ranked 13th in payroll for the 2024 season, according to Baseball Prospectus' Cot's Contracts.

Most baseball people and projection systems alike had the Red Sox finishing last in the AL East before the Giolito injury, though they also aren't that far off. I noted above that I raved about the potentially great offense in our Red Sox preview. Fangraphs' projections have the Red Sox with 82 wins, which would put them only three games out of the last AL wild-card spot. Deep runs from wild-card teams in recent years -- notably the 84-win Diamondbacks last year -- should be enough to inspire front offices to do everything they can to improve an extra few wins each offseason and clear a path for a potentially franchise-altering playoff run. 

Instead, plenty of owners are standing in the way and are more worried about their own bottom line. This is why I don't believe the Giolito injury triggers much in terms of movement. I could be wrong, but my guess is the news Tuesday only further solidifies the Red Sox mindset that this year is a lost cause at the big-league level and new Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow's job is to build the club from the farm system up. 

Hopefully I'm wrong. At a bare minimum, the Red Sox owe it to their legions of fans to at least replace the loss of expected production from the Giolito injury.