Boston Red Sox's General Manager Theo Epstein is a man with a plan and that plan is looking great. The signing of outfielder Carl Crawford to a 7 year, 142 million dollar deal is just another sign of the type of team the Red Sox are building: a team of hard working, tough minded, good attitude ball players. The additions of Crawford last night along with the acquisition of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez shows a change in direction from the model most baseball teams use to build a dynasty.
Yes, I used the word dynasty because you are looking at a team with five all-star caliber on their roster under the age of 30. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Gonzalez, Crawford, and Pitchers Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are all excellent players who have not fully reached their full potential yet. And one would be mistaken to forget that Pitchers Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon along with third/first baseman Kevin Youkilis are in their early 30's. This team has so much talent from top to bottom yet Epstein still plans to add another pitcher and maybe a catcher as well.
The unique element that will make this team so successful is the element that all of the above players have in common, which is the hard working, professional attitude that each player brings to their craft. Being team oriented players who do not have lots of baggage or any real off field issues or drama to speak of is something any professional team would love to have. These guys want to win and will do whatever it takes to get there. They will put in the work to make themselves the cream of the crop in the American League as individuals and as a team.
This is all apart of Theo Epstein's vision for the team. While some teams will overspend for the big names and others want to develop talent through their farm system then trade some talent for big time stars, the Red Sox have assembled a specific type of talented players. You look at the Yankees, they have superstar players making rediculous amounts of money. The Phillies have built their core of superstar players through either their farm system or strategic transactons. Teams like the Rangers, Giants, Rockies, Cardinals, White Sox and Twins have rosters that are a mix of all star level talent with overachievers that other teams have unloaded.
But the Red Sox have assembled a roster with all star level players who have a blue collar work ethic. These guys work all year round to get better and do not let the grind of a 162 game season get to them. Also these players are not a bunch of inflated egos looking to be adulated. Epstein built the team of free spirit personalities for 2004 World Series run then a team of stars for the title in 2007. But there were side effects with each of those teams. Guys from the 2004 team like Derek Lowe, Johnny Damon, Bronson Arroyo, and Pedro Martinez left to cash in free agency. On the other hand, age caught up with players like Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Curt Schilling, and Jason Varitek from the 2007 team. Also, baseball fans cannot forget the drama that led to the Red Sox unloading Manny Ramierez.
This new strategy by Epstein is to get hard working, talented players as they are entering into the prime of their careers. Look around at other teams in the American League in comparison with the Red Sox. The Yankees' superstars aren't getting any younger. The Tampa Rays are loosing their young talent because they cannot afford to keep them. The Rangers' potential revolves around their need for top line starting pitching and bullpen help. The Twins seem to be unable to get over the hump and it appears luck is not on their side. Teams like the White Sox and Angels have talent but are lacking in some areas. The Red Sox have positioned themselves to become the head of the class in the American League with the well rounded roster they are compiling and Theo Epstein is still not done adding to the arsenal. It looks like the Red Sox are assembling another winner; not bad for a franchise that went 86 years without a Championship before Theo Epstein came along.