There's a telling passage in Seth Mnookin's new book about the Red Sox, "Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top." It's about a staff meeting shortly after the Red Sox were eliminated by the White Sox this past October, and Theo Epstein tells senior staff the following:
We sat here in April and talked about building an überteam. That's dangerous. That's very dangerous. We need to be aware of the potential that the bubble could burst. Yes, it's a pro that, on the business side, we continued to grow. But on the con side is the amount of hype as we move toward superpower status. Yes, we won 95 games this year, but this approach isn't really sustainable over the long run. Sooner or later we might need to take half a step backward in return for a step forward. ... I warned about this in April. What if we win 85 games? We're bringing up some young players that are going to be better in '07 than they will be next year. And they'll probably be even better than that in '08.
Today, it looks as though the Red Sox are going to win 85 games this season. Give or take a few. However many they win, they're not going to the playoffs and they certainly don't resemble an überteam (the Yankees still have that category to themselves). After the Red Sox won the World Series, it became fashionable in some quarters -- including this one, I'm embarrassed to admit -- to suggest that the Red Sox were simply becoming the New Yankees, that they might simply spend their way to 95-100 wins every season.
Well, they tried. The only recent products of the farm system playing a significant role for the Red Sox this season are Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis, and Youkilis is no kid (meanwhile, the Yankees have relied on three recent graduates). It didn't work because while the Yankees have filled holes with Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, the Red Sox have filled holes with Coco Crisp and Alex Gonzalez.