Forget the Bridge Year – It’s Always Time to Win (in Boston)

Sandoval-Ramirez

My biggest complaint the last two years (yes I say two years) is that the Red Sox do not have many big name players. Riding that wave in 2013 in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings was fun and all, but it did not feel right to me. I kept telling people, “This team has no right winning the World Series.” And everyone I mentioned that to would tell me that Mike Carp is the best bench hitter in the league and Jonny Gomes is the spark plug they needed. Something about the previous offseason felt off to me, the Sox decided to spend the same amount of excess money, but on a much larger group of players. The front office had a bunch of massive holes to fill, and they filled them admirably. I knew going into the season that the 2013 Sox would be much improved, but World Series bound? I had no real hope for that.  Based on talent alone, playoff contender was my personal opinion. The story has been told, in 2013 the Sox went from worst to first, and shortly after in 2014, they went back to worst.

Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval just happened. Who would have thought that a few short years after the Carl Crawford debacle, the Sox would be spending nearly $200 million on just two players, both with injury histories. The players are great and will benefit this team greatly, especially come playoff time, where both players have excelled in the past. These two players set the foundation for a remarkable offseason that will include building the starting rotation, and perhaps more importantly, strengthening the bullpen. But there is nothing to be worried about at this point for one simple reason, the Sox are spenders again. These two signings show a shift in philosophy back to being a big market team with deep pockets. The past couple seasons have been a scared ownership group and a gun shy executive team trying to put together teams that are just good enough, and they got lucky in 2013 with a World Series winner.

I’ve always been a firm believer that a big market team should be a big market team. New York needs to be New York, LA needs to be LA, and more locally, Boston must be Boston. Attempting to mix a big market atmosphere with a small market spending philosophy simply does not work. We’re not in Tampa Bay or Oakland, the Red Sox have the money to spend, so it is their obligation to spend it. Would you pay to have your son/daughter attend a $50,000 college that does not have top of the line facilities? I don’t think so. Would you spend a couple hundred dollars bringing your family to a Red Sox game with a team like the 2014 edition? I don’t think so. And the Red Sox wonder why the sellout streak has not continued. Am I saying that the Red Sox need to base their team on what the fans will think? Or even base their team on having exciting players? No, I am not saying that at all. I actually believe the complete opposite. My point in bringing up the fans is that if a team is going to charge the prices they do at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, that team better be a consistent winner. The only way to build a team that consistently makes the playoffs and legitimately contends for a World Series is to spend money on great players that can be counted on. Big market teams have no excuse for a down year. The old adage is that you can’t buy a championship, but if you spend it smartly, money can certainly buy wins. I am not asking the Red Sox to win the World Series every year, all I ask is that they do not have any years such as last year.

After much rambling, I guess the point of this post is pretty simply, I’m thankful the Red Sox are the Red Sox once again. Look for more money to be spent this off-season and if the right pitchers are brought in, then you’ll be watching a Duck Boat parade through the city next November.

-WA

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