July 28, 2006


Best bet -- Red Sox should keep their top prospects (Steve Buckley, 7/28/06, Boston Herald)

If the Sox don’t make a huge acquisition by the trading deadline (or some kind of August waiver deal) and if they get beaten out of a playoff spot, a lot of people around here will be screaming.

But if Epstein is as smart as we all keep saying he is, then at this very moment he’s trying to steer the Red Sox toward a playoff spot without trading away the likes of Jon Lester, Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen and an array of promising kids who haven’t even tasted their first cup of big league coffee.

For the first time in recent memory, the Red Sox have a well-stocked farm system. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, drafted only last year, already is at Double-A Portland. Outfielder David Murphy, who struggled early last year at Portland, is hitting well at Triple-A Pawtucket. Right-hander Edgar Martinez, a converted catcher, is opening eyes at Portland. Infielder Dustin Pedroia, currently at the Pawtucket Finishing School, could be a Sox starter next year.

Can you imagine a 2007 Red Sox roster that includes Jonathan Papelbon, Lester, Hansen, Delcarmen, Pedroia and Murphy? If they turn out to be as good as we all think they will be - and Papelbon already is a top performer - the Red Sox could emerge with the kind of payroll flexibility that could turn them into a powerhouse over the next five or six seasons.

With so many young kids on the roster, the Red Sox will have the financial resources to sign whatever big-ticket player they need to either solidify the starting rotation or add another powerful bat to the lineup.

Just finished reading Seth Mnookin's fine book, Feeding the Monster, which is less about how the Red Sox won the World Series in '04 and missed in '03 and '05 than about the struggle over the direction of the team between Theo Epstein and his baseball guys--who want to build from within and have the kind of team that can win together for five or six years--and the businessmen who own it--and would understandably like to maximize marketing and revenue. It's been my experience--and all such should be distrusted--that most Red Sox fans are down with the program and quite willing to go through a transition period where some of the more expensive vets get shuffled off while youngsters get broken in and true professionals--Lowell, Gonzalez, Cora, Loretta--fill in, even if it means not having the bnest team imaginable on the field for a discrete playoff run.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 28, 2006 8:48 AM

Steinbrenner envy on the part of the money men. The problem is when you build a team like George does, sticking in aging free agents who have past success but are past their prime, you build a team that can weather a lot of setbacks in a 162-game marathon (which the Yanks are doing this year and did do last year), but lack the youth to run the sprint needed when the playoffs come around. It's good for the regular season ticket sales, but not-so-hot when the less-tired arms and bats come up to get you in October.

Posted by: John at July 28, 2006 10:59 AM

How much can making it deep into the playoffs really add to team revenue? They already sell out the most expensive park in the major leagues for every home game, they've got ads on just about every square inch of the park and I swear I heard a commercial the other night for the official parking meter of the Boston Red Sox. I find it a little hard to believe that paying a lot of money for a couple of high priced players can really pay off financially.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2006 11:15 AM


It's not so much making it deep that the suits want as dominating the media 365 days a year. Theo has tried to get them to back off so the attention isn't so oppressive.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 11:30 AM

Agreed that the Sawx should hold onto the kids. Can Dusty P play ss? That would solve their most glaring weakness.

From a fan's standpt it's much better to be rooting for homegrown players. Wasn't the 2004 team just about all mercenaries? Iirc Wakefield was the only homegrown player, as even Tek and Lowe only had a cup of coffee in AAA after being traded to the Sawx as kids.

That was the great thing about the Yankee championship teams of the 90s -- Jeter, Bernie, Posada, Mo et al. Cashman finally seems to have convinced the suits in Yankeeland that youth is the way to go, and they've had two straight great drafts and already have 2 of the top 10 prospects in the game in Hughes and Tabata.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 28, 2006 12:31 PM

It's also about the ego boost the owners and top suits get for being the owner/general partners of the World's Champion. Baseball folks respect the Atlanta Braves for staying at the top for as long as they have, but in the status-symbol concious world the owners like to inhabit, 13 straight division titles would be considered a failure, because the Braves have won just one Series during that time (though Atlanta's post-season problems have been different from the ones Steinbrenner's team have suffered from in recent years).

Posted by: John at July 28, 2006 12:36 PM

Except the Yankees have no youth worth building around, with the possible exception of Hughes and no sensible person builds around high school draftee pitchers.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 12:38 PM


It doesn't even seem to be about winning but about the attention itself.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 12:40 PM

Uh huh. Philips is the best pitching prospect in the game, now that Weaver's in the bigs. HS pitchers are a long shot. They cease being a long shot after they've dominated every single level in the minors through AA.

Scout.com, BAmerica, and a number of others have come out with their recent updated prospect lists. Right now the Yanks are stocked in the first 100 level talent.

The Sawx meanwhile have no one in the upper echelon. No one. Granted, that's because they have the 3 young pitchers in the bigs now. But they've got little else.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 28, 2006 2:58 PM

Hughes is a nice prospect who's as likely to get hurt as ever pitch on a quality Yankee club.

Jacoby Ellsbury will be a better major league player than that Tabata character.

The rest of the good Yankee prospects are teenagers they signed last week.

There's a good bit in Newsday today on the horrific lunchmeat they're dangling:


Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 3:04 PM

Please. Every single minor league rating that I've seen has Elsbury ranked below Brett Gardner -- ie a speedy contact hitter with no power who might grow up to be Scott Posednik if he's lucky. No Yankee fan looks on Gardner as anything more, telling that Sawx fans have elevated Elsbury so high -- b/c you've got nothing else.

Meanwhile, the true cream of the Sawx minor leaague system is playing in Miami and hey, looky here, Marte, tho the Sawx only briefly had him, is now in the majors.

With every passing day the Sawx 2006 off-season looks more and more like an absolute disaster.

Coco Chanel and Josh McHomer for all that talent!

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 28, 2006 7:11 PM

And each of those prospects listed in that article is better than anything the Sawx have in AA or AAA right now. 3 have looked decent in the majors already.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 28, 2006 7:15 PM

The guys the Sox have had go back and forth--Van Buren and Lopez--are better than any pitchers in the Yankees high system. Pedroia is Cano and Moss is Melky. The Yanks have high hopes for Hughes and little else that matters.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 7:31 PM

Yes, Ellsbury is just another Damon/Crisp, but those are valuable.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 7:35 PM