Monday, January 28, 2013

The Third Way: How The Sox Can Win Again

There's been an awful lot of discussion lately about how Boston should approach building what Ben Cherington has called, "the next great Red Sox team". The new Terry Francona book has re-kindled this discussion—since it was really about two competing Red Sox World Views. You know, either Theo and BenCher's small, homegrown player development machine or Larry and John Henry's big, image-conscious free-agent ratings monster. Either/Or. Yin/Yang. Ginger/Mary Ann. But, in the real world (as we have seen in Washington, D.C.), poles apart leads to polls apart—and gridlock. The Red Sox don't have to be all one or all the other. What's wrong with a mixture of the two approaches? Why can't we have a core foundation of quality players born and raised in the organization—supplemented with a sprinkling of key free agents and trade targets? Isn't this the very formula that got us the 2007 ring? System kid Ellsbury's late season play pushed out veteran Coco Crisp when the chips where down. Home-grown Dustin Pedroia was maniacal. Like-wise with Jon Lester. Trade acquisitions like Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell energized the team in the post-season. And, free-agent J.D. Drew (while maligned everywhere) had two of the biggest post-season hits that year. In the Francona book, Theo Epstein daydreams about the "all-homegrown" team that might have been: Josh Reddick, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish, Anthony Rizzo, Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway—along with Clay Buchholz, Lester, Anibal Sanchez and Felix Doubront. Hey, that's a hell of a lot more interesting than what we have now. But, honestly, probably not a World Series contender. On the other hand, the NOG's ideal of Carl Crawford, John Lackey, and Adrian Gonzalez did not exactly work out either. So, why don't we opt for the Third Way—and maybe get another ring in a year or so?