Thursday, December 09, 2010
by Fran Berkman
Am I the only one whose kind of pumped up at these moves the Red Sox are making? First they pulled off a monster trade to land Adrian Gonzalez, one of the best young first basemen in the game. Now they pull off another enormous deal landing the top free agent, outfielder Carl Crawford. That's two of the very bes players in the game, who are both coming into the prime years of their careers. Now lets not forget that the Red Sox already feature Kevin Youkilis (aka the Greek God of Walks) and Dustin Pedroia, two young stars with prodigious talent. With a core of these four players-Gonzalez, Crawford, Youkilis and Pedroia, the Red Sox offense is going to be outrageously good for years and years. Lets not forget Jacoby Ellsbury, who is just one injury riddled year removed from a .301/.355, 70 SB, 60 RBI season. I almost feel bad for the Yankees. I might have just lied. Definitely did. There's more. Though he hasn't blossomed yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see catcher Jared Saltalamacchia start to fulfill his potential under the tutelage of Jason Varitek. Not to mention with all these other studs, there will be next to no pressure on Salty to perform, which should help. The Sox round out their lineup with tried and true veterans Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron, JD Drew and David Ortiz. Add it all up and you have as solid an offense as there is in baseball. I feel like I'm piling on here, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Boston's home-grown, young pitchers. John Lester has slowly and surely turned into a top of the rotation, Ace-of-the-Staff type of pitcher. With his outstanding 2010 campaign, Clay Buchholz might be right on Lester's heals. Buchholz was 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP last year. Both of these pitchers are only twenty-six years old. Add to that the twenty-five year old Daniel Bard, who could be the heir apparent if Boston parts ways with closer Jonathan Pappelbon. These three will be the backbone of the Sox pitching staff going forward. John Lackey and Josh Beckett will also make large contributions to the Sox staff, and I would not be suprised to see them go after a few more bull pen arms. Okay I'm tired of hyping the Red Sox, I seriously hate the Red Sox probably more than I hate the Yankees. Do you all get the point though? Barring a New York Mets-esq run of injuries, the Sox are going to be ridiculously good in 2011. So now you might be thinking, if you hate the Sox, why are you pumped up that they're going to be so good? And where do the Mets tie into all of this? Let me explain. When the Mets hired Sandy Alderson, naturally everyone thought of Oakland. People started saying the Mets are going to be a "Money Ball" team. Pretty logical conclusion because Alderson was the long time GM of the Athletics, and he was the mentor to Billy Beane whose brilliance on a tight budget branded the term "Money Ball" into every baseball fan's heart. Just one problem. Money Ball should really be called "No Money Ball". The concept is for small market teams to compete with their richer adversaries by figuring out what type of successful player is being undervalued by the market, and investing wisely in these somewhat flawed, but useful players. The Mets aren't a small market team though. It may seem like it this season, because due to Omar Minaya's mistakes, the usually active Mets have to sit on the sidelines during this Winter's free agency period. No disrespect intended to DJ Carrasco, Ronny Paulino and Boof Bonser. Well, perhaps a little. Next year, we will have more payroll flexibility, and we will be back in the game. All in all, I think that it should be the Red Sox, not the A's, who should be the archetype of what the Mets could ultimately become under Alderson. The Mets and the Sox are both big market teams with high payrolls. Both Alderson and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein are graduates of Ivy League Universities, Dartmouth and Yale respectively. Alderson graduated from Law School at Harvard, while Epstein graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law. These are some pretty smart dudes. The Red Sox were so enamored with the way the A's did business, that they were on the verge of hiring Beane to be their GM. They made him an offer which would have let him become the highest paid GM of all time. Beane ultimately turned down their offer so the Sox settled on the young Epstein. Guys like Beane, Alderson and Epstein are a examples of a new breed of GM. They are not the 'Good Ol' Boys' of Baseball. They are extremely bright, hard working and responsible men. They take accountability for their decisions, and realize that anything wrong with their entire organization from top to bottom reflects poorly on them, as the leaders. They run a baseball organization how it should be run, like a business. Alderson, like Epstein, will look to improve the quality of the Mets from top to bottom. The Red Sox are known for having a cohesive philosophy that stems from Epstein all the way down through their farm system. A premium is placed on scouting a certain type of player, then drafting and developing. The Sox have such a fecund farm system that it not only allows them keep their major league roster loaded with young talent, but it allows them to pull off a trade for an Adrian Gonzalez. Or lets not forget the Sox traded for Josh Beckett, who pitched them to two World Series wins in the past seven seasons. I would not be a bit surprised to see them win another very soon. Their success lets them earn more money, which they can turn around and invest in a player like Crawford, who might just be wearing a Red Sox hat in Cooperstown one day if he continues at his current pace. Alderson's first step at improving the Mets from bottom up was hiring Paul DePodesta as Vice President of Player Development. He called DePodesta "one of the top analytical minds in the game." Analytical isn't exactly a term that Minaya seemed to care for too much. These are the New Mets under Alderson. Instead of trying to figure out how to steal back page headlines from the Yankees, the Mets will be analyzing how they can improve their organization which will ultimately lead to winning with consistancy (hopefully). Lets face it, even though the Yankees are the organization that everyone else wants to be, the Red Sox have been the best run organization in baseball over the past decade. The Yankees are just so rich that they can cover up their mistakes by signing anyone they want. The Sox, however, rarely waste money. This is the team we need to be like Mets fans. Think about it, if we can win two titles per decade, like the Sox just did, we might even be able to catch up to the Yankees in just under 200 years! Hooray for the New York Orange Sox.