Friday, December 10, 2010

Red Sox ≠ Yankees

In the last week the Red Sox have dropped an estimated $300 million dollars on two players (estimated because the Gonzalez extension won't be announced until Opening Day, and the Crawford deal is pending a physical). The consensus among baseball-types is that Boston most definitely "won" the Winter Meetings, which is obvious to anyone paying a modicum of attention. Unfortunately, Sox contributor Bob Hohler clearly isn't happy without something to gripe about.

Hohler penned a piece this morning entitled "Sox spend up a storm: Unprecedented deals put Boston in the Yankees' big-money league." The premise of the article seems to be that Red Sox fans can no longer complain about the behemoth budget of their neighbors to the south because Theo went on a "shopping spree" of his own this winter.

He goes on to point out that when it comes to financial clout, the Red Sox are much closer to the Yankees than the Rays, Royals, or Pirates. I have a simple, one-word answer to this allegation: DUH. I don't think you could find anyone whining that the Red Sox were among the underprivileged teams in MLB. I've said it here before: the Red Sox are upper middle class, while the Yankees are essentially Angelica Pickles.

The Yankees, simply based on their location in the biggest city in the United States, have a revenue stream that even a market like Boston can never hope to match. That said, the Sox have a lot more to work with than most teams, but because they have to compete directly with New York, they have to get creative. If Carl Crawford had been the Yankees priority this winter, there's no doubt he'd be getting measured for pinstripes at this very moment (yet another reason we should thank Cliff Lee for beating the Yanks in the playoffs).

The Red Sox landed Crawford because they had more money than the Angels. This is undoubtedly true, but we're only having this conversation because Brian Cashman has other players on his mind, and thank goodness Cliff Lee and his agent are dragging out the process. On the other hand, the Red Sox have not yet paid a penny in their acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez.

As I'm sure you're all aware, the Red Sox have NOT extended Gonzalez just yet, and the only thing they've paid is prospects - some of the top young players in the minors. Minor league players are something every team has to offer, and there are definitely issues with unfair financial clout in the draft, but the fact is that the worst teams are often the poorest, and thus get higher picks than either the Sox or Yankees.

So yes, while the Red Sox have presumably spent $300 million on players this winter, it is VERY different from the Yankees offseason of 2008. Don't believe me? Let's recap: New York acquired CC Sabathia through free agency, even bidding against themselves, because they can, and awarding him the richest contract ever for a pitcher. They then acquired AJ Burnett, again through free agency, risking more money and years on him than anyone else was willing to, because they can afford an $80 million blunder/injury machine. Lastly, they brought Mark Teixeira into the fold, through - you guessed it - free agency, awarding him the richest contract for a first-baseman.

So, to recap, the Yankees presumptive Opening Day starting lineup includes three players that are homegrown, Jeter (kept as a free agent), Posada (kept as a free agent), and Cano. The Red Sox presumptive Opening Day lineup includes Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis, and Lester (none of whom have EVER been free agents), as well as Gonzalez, who was acquired through TRADE, not through throwing boatloads of cash around.

The Red Sox are, as they have always been, a good mixture of the homegrown, the traded for, and the free agents. The Yankees are more like a collection of mercenaries with a SINGLE cost-controlled homegrown player in Robinson Cano.

Tell me again how the Red Sox are just the same as the Yankees?

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