The Big Redhead misses the point

Dan is more than annoyed that the current administration is setting the fans expectations for a down year, much like 2006, as the team was/is in a transition phase. Dan believes that the Sox should be more Yankee-like (my words, not his) and just spend, spend, spend because after all, the fans sell out Fenway every game, pay the highest ticket prices, etc.:

it’s nice that Theo has a passion for player development, but asking fans to take a year off is outrageous. Henry is a billionaire and the Sox are making bundles of money. If you don’t believe that, call their partners at Ace Ticket and try to score a few tickets.

Red Sox fans love their team unconditionally. For eight seasons, Henry and Co. returned the love, rebuilding Fenway and overtaking/embarrassing the Yankees.

Now the Yankees are back on top and it feels like the Sox – happy with their trendy, ever-filled ballpark – are giving up. The ballpark is done (thanks for helping, Janet Marie Smith, now take a hike) and the championships have been won. Loyal fans can keep coming to Fenway and singing “Sweet Caroline.” Just don’t expect the Sox to compete with the Yankees this winter or next season.

Sorry. Not OK.

As a member of the hated Yankee fanbase, I think Dan is missing the point. What made the Sox a great team is the blending of big market resources with deft trades and adept player development. Sure the Sox have the cash to sign a big outfielder, but would that tap out their available resources? I am sure they have a budget and just because their owner is a billionaire, that doesn’t mean he’s going to allow the team to spend at will. Just ask the Twins who were owned by billionaire tightwad Carl Pohlad and were forced to operate within a narrow budget. The Sox will have to deal with contractual situations in the short term with Beckett, Papelbon and others. They want to also remain flexible for the free agent class of 2011, which as of now, appears to be looking very strong. Not to mention, they know they are a preferred destination and can wait for the market to come to them, which it inevitably will.

The RedSox are a model organization, becoming a farm system for the newest generation of GMs, assistant GMs and the like. Theo and his team are in synch with ownership. There is a strategy and a long term plan. They are not panicking and reacting to the Yanks maneuvers. So often, the Mets and Sox used to react to the Yanks moves with counter-moves, often inferior. This is no longer the case with the Sox. In fact, for a while, I thought the Yanks were making the inferior counter-moves to what the Sox braintrust were doing. Now, with Cashman firmly at the wheel, it seems the Yanks are looking more and more Sox-like in their desire to have a robust farm system that will either provide the next level of players or used to make trades to continue the current run.

Bashing Theo for sticking to a strategy is shortsighted and foolish. Demanding equal and expensive reactions to the Yanks moves is impossible and unfair for any team. If I were a card-carrying member of the RSN, I’d still have faith in Theo & Co. Two titles in the last five years, consistent playoff appearances and a very good, contending team with a good blend of home-grown and acquired talent. If the team chooses not to put its future payroll flexibility at risk for the sake of one year, so be it.

The RedSox are in a fine position to remain competitive for the forseeable future. If 2010 becomes a “bridge” year to a better 2011, I’d be OK with that as a Sox fan. I know it must hurt to see the Yanks win it all in 2009 and seemingly improve this off-season, but panic moves are not Theo’s M.O.

Leave that to Omar and the Wilbons.

IIATMS overlord and founder. ESPN contributor. Purveyor of luscious reality.