Once upon a time, not too long ago, the Boston Red Sox were lovable losers. For every one successful season, they had another three or four that were not. For 86 years, we waited for next year, just on the hope that we would see some continue level of success.
That's not the case, anymore. The best thing that has happened to the team, since Theo Epstein took over, has been the establishment of a "system" . A system that emphasizes a combination of a stocked farm system, wise free-agent spending, and good trades. This combination creates a winner, year in and year out.
Remember the days when the Red Sox's farm system looked a lot like the Yankees' does today? Dan Duquette was a master at trading our best prospects for only average players and trying to convince us it was the right thing to do. Theo does just the opposite.
His development system has created great every day players. Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis, and Lowrie are all solid young players, with great upside, who were born and raised in the Red Sox farm system.
He's also produced an array of good big league arms, evidenced by the likes of Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, Jonathan Papelbon, and Manny Delcarmen. On the horizon, he has even more arms in the form of Clay Buchholz and Micheal Bowden.
Below the AAA level, the Red Sox have serious talent to supplement the big league club for years to come.
Even here is not where the beauty lies.
Theo figured out what Dan Duquette never could. The Sox scout very well and are loaded with potential major leaguers at every level. This allows Theo to do a few things. Look at Brandon Moss. He probably will be a good everyday player in the bigs, but Epstein knew the Sox would be set in the outfield for a while, between who was on the roster then and what he's got down the line.
This makes dealing Moss a good idea. Although he's a good player and could have been a starter in Boston, the system is so loaded that he was expendable. Duquette would have moved him at a point too, but for a less talented player than Jason Bay, and with no one behind him on the farm.
That's the beauty of the system. Epstein raises players to become major league everydayers, but he gets more than he thinks we will need. Knowing that he can throw a solid prospect into a trade deal and not worry about what's left in minors.
Having expendable young talent produces a lot more trade offers and can jump-start trade talks, as evidenced by the Manny Ramirez deal, that went from nowhere to completion in no time flat.
You combine this system, with solid free agent signings, and you have yourself an annual contender. Enjoy this Sox fans, your team is now the model franchise for baseball.