Money to Burn: The Luxury of the Boston “Big-Market” Red Sox

Tyler StricklandContributor IIDecember 16, 2008

If the Red Sox sign a big ticket free agent this winter, it may be at the behest of David Ortiz (now minus-one Manny Ramirez) wanting a scary, pitchers-fill-their-pants, kind of hitter.

The Sox may sign Derek Lowe, who is durable and experienced. The Sox might think that a solid top four starters of Beckett, Dice-K, Lester, and Wake (backed up by three legit prospects in Buchholz, Masterson, and Michael Bowden chomping at the bit for the fifth spot) just isn’t enough pitching. *Ahem* 2006 anybody?

Or, it could be simply because they can.

As it stands, the Red Sox are committed to significantly less player payroll next season. Without the likes Manny, Schilling, Paul Byrd, (probably) Varitek, and likely Julio Lugo, the Red Sox have some cash to throw around at marquee players if they want them.

Some of their current players will see marginal raises this season (some more than others), but this is a team that just got somewhat younger and lot cheaper in a few months of offseason.

Assuming they do not overspend at the catching or utility positions, the Red Sox should be conservatively looking at a $25 million to $35 million surplus over last year's team. Beantown is an extremely rich baseball mecca, and a city very willing to put a lot into its team in order to get a lot more out (are you listening South Florida?).

I remember hearing a very apt description of Pedro Martinez when he was in his prime with the Sox, and it was that he pitched with the octane of Clemens and the finesse of Maddux. Lethal in combination with one another.

In retrospect, I think the Red Sox have become the same way in their business dealings. They are a highly savvy organization that picks their spots and cajoles the market into working for them, while at the same time they are backed up by a huge revenue stream and a stellar fan base.

So bottom line: will they sign Mark Teixeira as back-up bash brother to Ortiz? A lineup featuring Tex in concert with last year’s stolen base king (Ellsbury), reigning MVP (Pedroia), clutch-hitting deep threat (Ortiz), AB grind-out wunderkind (Youk), and rounded out by B-List sluggers Jason Bay and JD Drew would be a formidable starting nine.

On the other hand, subtracting Tex and adding loveable gamer everyman Mikey Lowell still gives them a potent offensive attack.

My opinion comes to this: whether they sign Tex, sign a frontline starter, or none of the above, the Red Sox as a whole deserve kudos that ALL these choices are viable options.

This championship-caliber franchise has put themselves in a position where their success does not hinge on the stock of a lone Sabathia or Reyes or Suzuki type player. They are very good now, and have the luxury of making themselves even better.