I get a few butterflies in the ol' boilmaker when the Boston Red Sox throw a big time prospect into a trade. The butterflies turn into rabid raccoons when the Sox dump their entire farm team into a deal.
I love prospects. They are like your children in a way. They grow up in front of you, and before you even know it, they are making All-Star teams, start growing Lemmy Kilmister inspired facial hair and getting into fights with Manny Ramirez.
There's a sense of pride in seeing someone who rose through your own farm system, especially as Red Sox fans. When a Red Sox prospect goes through the minor league ranks and reaches the Big Show, they tend to exhibit the qualities Red Sox fans look for in their players. Hard working grinders that aren't afraid to get their uniforms dirty and show off the five o'clock shadow. This is also definitely true of the farmhands of the Empire, which would be a sweet band name.
Players who are brought up under the "Yankee Way," epitomize what the Boss looked for in his players, a mastery of the fundamentals, while maintaining a clean shaven face.
One argument that us Sox fans typically make when debating a fan of the New York Yankees is that the Sawx don't "buy championships," meaning we utilize our minor league system better than the Bombers. I've made that argument out of frustration, yet I know it to mostly be untrue.
The Yankees obviously had some blue chip prospects in the '90s and are producing some again today. Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada were the first group, and the second group has Robinson Cano (still getting better), Brett Gardner (for his glove at least), Phil Hughes (has real upside but some question marks) and we can soon add Jesus Montero to the list.
However, they have also acquired big name players during their dynasty and outlier 2009 championship such as Wade Boggs, John Wetteland, Tino Martinez, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia to name a few.
The Red Sox counter with Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury as their farm system stand outs, and we can add Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard to that list too.
However, the 2004 and 2007 Boston Red Sox had their share of big name free agents and players acquired in trades such as Manny, Johnny Damon, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling. I don't think there's anything wrong with that though, regardless of what team is doing it. If you have the resources to go along with a competent enough front office, and the athletes have the desire to play for a new city, then why on Earth shouldn't they be allowed to?
I made a similar argument in the column I wrote about LeBron James: if an athlete is unhappy with their situation, and if they can find ways to make it a better situation for themselves, then we shouldn't crucify them for that. If you want to make the whole thing a television spectacle, however...
I was a bit worried trading Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes for one player. All three of those guys (ranked as the first, third and sixth best prospects, respectively, by Baseball America) could be near-elite to elite major leaguers one day. The San Diego Padres most definitely got fair compensation.
But, the Boston Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez, the front runner for the 2011 MVP. As a result, the rabid raccoons got a day off.