Boston Red Sox: Could Theo Epstein's Formula for Success Sink the Sox?

Josh McCainSenior Writer IDecember 8, 2010

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Adrian Gonzalez (R) ooks on as General Manager Theo Epstein answers questions during a press conference to announce Gonzalez signing with the Boston Red Sox on December 6,  2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Boston general manager Theo Epstein has had his own formula for success.  It's a version of "money ball," where he values things like on base percentage more than batting average and how a guy fits in with the Red Sox organization.

As well as not paying high dollars or giving a lot of years to older players.  It's as if there is a sign on Yawkey Way that reads, "Anyone over 30 need not apply."

His chief rival in New York, Brian Cashman (is there better last name for the GM of the Yankees), doesn't really care how old you are or your on-base percentage.  If you can hit the ball far, then he'll find a spot for you in the Bronx.

Since Theo came on board with the Red Sox in 2002, the two GMs (who have very different approaches) have yielded similar results.

The Sox have been to two World Series, winning both of them, and the Yanks have been to two and have won one of them.

However, since 2007 and the rise of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox have been on the short end of the American League East stick.

The Yankees have been on a bit of a spending spree to fill their holes and have worried little about anything other than stats.  Where this didn't work out too well (as far as titles are concerned) in the early 2000s, it seem to be working out just fine right now.

The Red Sox, too, have been sticking to their ways, but now it seems that it may hinder them more than help.

There has been little to no talk of the Red Sox pursuing Yankee killer Cliff Lee because of his age and the number of dollars and years he wants, and now the once-foregone conclusion that the Sox would sign outfielder Carl Crawford is now in doubt.

It appears due to Crawford's age and the number of years he wants (thank you, Nationals, with that ridiculous contract you gave Jason Werth), Theo and the Sox are balking.

This could allow for the free spending Yankees to swoop in and gain yet another weapon for their Galactic Empire.

If there was a salary cap in baseball or if the Sox weren't in the same division as the Yankees, Theo's approach would be ideal.

However, those two things aren't reality.  There is no salary cap and we are in the same division as the Yankees.

And honestly, I understand Theo's approach to not overpaying guys like the Yanks seem to do every offseason, but the balking at the number of years on a contract just boggles my mind.

Yes, I know contracts are guaranteed in baseball and paying a guy who doesn't play for you doesn't make much sense, but since there is not salary cap to affect you if you cut a player, then the number of years a player wants shouldn't be the last hurdle to signing him.

Sure, if you cut him you still have to pay him, but when you're the Red Sox and you make more money than the majority of the teams out there, you can afford to take a few risks every now and then.

Look at it this way.  As a fan, I'd rather see them sign a guy for six years, have him give us a good three years where we win the AL East (and maybe the pennant and the World Series), than sign a guy not quite as good to only a three-year deal and watch another October where the Yanks go deep and we're at home.

Carl Crawford could really help bolster our outfield and our offensive production. If the money between the two sides is right, then a silly thing like the number of years shouldn't matter.  At the very least, if he fizzles out in two to three years, we can try and trade him away.

I think the last two seasons have proven that Theo needs to be more flexible with his formula so the team doesn't miss out on players that can get them back over the hump.

For more Red Sox chatter you can follow me on Twitter (@jomac006).