Believing in Theo’s Plan.
Theo Epstein has a plan, and it seems as if he is willing to adhere to this, especially since he isn’t exactly making any splashes on the free agent market. A while ago I wrote that if the Red Sox and other large market teams go in a certain direction, focusing on the farm first, and making free agent acquisitions when their farm doesn’t produce a player at a needed position, making trades of surplus talent for a need, etc, etc. Then both teams could build a powerhouse organization. Well, Theo has not strayed from doing this, nor should he.
The last season that Theo made a significant move during free agency was before the 2007 season. Epstein needed a right fielder to replace the aging, declining, hometown hero in Trot Nixon. So JD Drew came to town. Theo wanted to add another capable starter, and even though Dice-K isn’t exactly what everyone thought him to be, he is capable. Those were definitely the biggest acquisitions of that off-season, and hype could not surround any one player more than it did with Matsuzaka coming over from Japan.
Something occurred to me today, something that I hadn’t realized. JD Drew was worth more than just money (Well the five year contract wasn’t exactly fitting for his resume, but that is another story). But signing JD Drew, meant not surrendering a draft pick. I actually had not thought of this until today. And it is actually sort of genius, not the signing of Drew, that wasn’t genius. But bringing a quality player in, while not losing a potential quality player down the road. The signing has gained an instant boost in credibility once I realized this, at least more so than I originally thought at the time. So the Red Sox received their high On-Base, patient, defensively adept, and productive when healthy, JD Drew. And they kept the draft pick that they value so much (partly because they have so much success drafting, which not every team can be so confident).
Daisuke was another player, that although was very expensive when one adds in the bidding fee, did not cost the Red Sox a draft pick (although I am not positive of this, where would the draft pick go? :) . So the Red Sox effectively signed TWO effective players, without sacrificing a draft pick. And of course they won a World Series in doing so that same season.
Back to the current situation…Yesterday a coworker said that the Red Sox are idiots for losing out on the Teixeira sweepstakes. Well, first off, maybe I shouldn’t take this to heart. Not everyone understands the value of a cheap prospect that should be a good player. Is “idiocy” the right term for saving nearly $20 million a season? Once again, Teixeira is a known commodity (And Tex WOULD have helped the Red Sox), while Lars Anderson is not a known commodity, somewhat known, but somewhat unknown. But with the success of the Red Sox scouting, drafting, and developing, shouldn’t they be confident when one of their prospects is, not only groomed by them, but playing well under their watch? That money, even with as great as Teixeira is, can be spent elsewhere.
The ultimate plan should be to produce as many players as possible, who are cheap for the organization, and obviously players that are average or better as well. Since the philosophy is to be “average or better at every position,” then having below average players isn’t exactly what Theo and crew are shooting for. Another luxury of a strong farm is actually going to come into play very soon, most likely. The Red Sox have surplus pitching from within, while they need to address the catching position externally. Since they don’t have a catcher that has shown much promise as being the backstop for a good team, then they will probably need to move a pitcher for the rights to a catcher. Without depth down below, it would be even more difficult to do this. Theo may have trouble parting ways with a promising young pitcher, but without other good pitching to back that move up, it would simply be even harder. And a little off topic, I wish they would bring in that catcher as soon as possible.
So if anyone criticizes Theo and Lucchino for not spending money right now, then they should do their research. It is about something bigger, something more dominant down the road. Theo is confident that he can accumulate draft picks, or at least not lose draft picks, while having enough talent on the field to win. And 2009 is no exception. It looks as though Theo will make the right decision, and not pay what is essentially a league average pitcher in Derek Lowe, a lot of money. If they absolutely needed Lowe, then I would not ridicule the decision of signing him (probably wouldn’t ridicule it anyway), same situation for Teixeira. They have Mike Lowell at third, they have Youkilis at first, and of course Anderson in the minors. If their first baseman was Doug Mientkiewicz, and in the minors they had no one with any potential, then it would have been imperative to bring in Tex. But it is about the big picture, not simply a piece torn off of that big picture. Theo won either way. So before one criticizes him, go out, purchase a really big frame, and do your research.