|They spend money in Boston, but they win, too|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 28 October 2007 18:34|
On Mike Lowell, whose salary Boston was willing to swallow in a trade for Josh Beckett. The price just went up on the All-Star third baseman, a potential free agent, now that he's the second World Series Most Valuable Player in Red Sox history.
On Beckett himself, a Florida fire sale find who delivered one of the most dominating postseason pitching performances in baseball history.
On Daisuke Matsuzaka, who won 15 games in the regular season and got better as the playoffs went along. And on Curt Schilling, reeled in with an unprecedented World Series bonus on which he delivered double.
After missing the playoffs last year for the first time in general manager Theo Epstein's tenure, the Red Sox opened the season with a $143 million payroll, second only to the New York Yankees, and tens of millions more than the next extravagant spender.
Unlike the Yankees, who have spent more than $1 billion since winning their last World Series title, Boston has two in four years and the pieces in place for more.
That's because of a player development staff - the Red Sox spend freely on that, too - that drafted Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Jonathan Papelbon from a sea of eligible prospects and guided them to the majors.
Ellsbury started the season in Double-A, played in just 33 regular-season games for Boston and didn't crack the lineup until late in the AL championship series. He hit .438 in the World Series, with four doubles.
Pedroia batted .317 as a rookie and had seven hits in three games as Boston rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the ALCS.
Papelbon didn't allow a run in the postseason.
``Our owners give us a lot of money to go out and spend and get good players. But having guys come through your system is a great way to do it,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before Game 4. ``And when they're able to come and contribute, and not just contribute but be pivotal players, we've got guys hitting first and second, Papelbon is closing games, Youkilis playing first, it's a huge source of pride.''
It was money well-spent, too, on Julio Lugo, who didn't hit like a $9 million player during the year but did in the postseason to supplement defense that was very, very good.
Even on J.D. Drew, whose five-year, $70 million contract weighed on the organization like an albatross until he started hitting when they needed it: in Game 6 of the AL championship series, with the Red Sox facing elimination.
On a scouting department that knew when to pick Matt Holliday off first, when to shade the left fielder to his right, when to swing at the first pitch and when to take it.
``We certainly believe in preparation and we're certainly blessed to have a lot of people that help us prepare,'' Francona said. ``We feel responsibility as a staff to be prepared, never forgetting that we want players to go play the game.''
And the Red Sox seemed to have all the right players.