That’s Why They Play the Games

ESPN noted over the weekend that the Red Sox were the biggest spenders of the 2009-10 offseason. No surprise there, of course. They also noted, however, that only three times since 1990, and just once since 2000, has the biggest spender of a given offseason won the World Series the very next year.

Of course the most recent example is very recent indeed: the 2009 Yankees. And of the past 11 World Series winners, four have been among the 10 biggest-spending teams of the previous offseason, and all of them except the 2001 Diamondbacks were in the top half of baseball's offseason spenders — including the third-ranked 2007 Red Sox, who splurged on Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew and Daisuke Matsuzaka the previous winter.

It should go without saying that there's all sorts of problems with this kind of analysis. Many times, one big free agent signing is enough to put a team on top of the pile, and it obviously takes more than one player to have a winning ballclub (just ask the Texas Rangers, who made the right move by signing Alex Rodriguez to a megadeal then counteracted it by pretty much wasting the rest of their money). And without seeing the raw data, we don't know how close the top-ranked teams were to the second- or third- or even 10th-ranked teams.

Finally, the piece doesn't consider how the top-ranked teams actually fared in the subsequent regular and postseason (were the 2001 Yankees, who lost the World Series by one run, the No. 1 spending team the previous offseason? It's possible, given their big signing of Mike Mussina, and if so, can that really count as a failure?)

We're certainly not making plans for the Duck Boat parade just yet, but all things considered, it'll take a lot to convince us the Red Sox — under this management team — are better off not being the top-spending team in a given offseason.

7 comments… add one

  • “better off not being the top-spending team in a given offseason.”
    This is exactly why I think it’s extremely silly for fans of large-market teams to complain about how other large-market teams spend their money. What do you expect them to do, NOT do what’s in the best interests of the team?

    AndrewYF February 14, 2011, 2:49 pm
  • “We’re certainly not making plans for the Duck Boat parade just yet…”
    Yes you guys are. Come on. You are all thinking it but won’t just come out and say it…I will.
    BOSTON RED SOX 2011 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS BABY!!!
    There. That should do it. ;)

    krueg February 14, 2011, 5:34 pm
  • i apologize for how hopelessly cliche this sounds, but it’s not about the amount of money being spent, but the amount of money being spent smartly that matters…criticism of the yankees is always double-edged not just for much they spend overall, but how poorly some of those investments have turned out…i haven’t seen a direct correlation between spending and winning myself, so i’d have to agree with the basic premise of espn’s piece…spending is only part of the equation…it’s a no-brainer to recognize that spending smartly when necessary, along with some proper management of the draft and young player development puts a team in the best position to win…i don’t think anyone is planning duck boat parades any more than the yankees planned a parade down the canyon of heroes after signing cc, tex, and burnett, but i have seen red sox nation and the boston media become extremely emboldened during this off-season, and i understand why…they have spent smartly, and they have developed young stars…but, as the title of the post warns everyone “that’s why they play the games”…

    dc February 15, 2011, 8:38 am
  • If nothing, I’m fair. When the Yankees purchased CC, Tex, and Burnett, I said to all of you that if they failed to win the WS that year, it was a bust.
    I feel the same way about the Red Sox right now. If everyone is healty, and they’re getting beat, it’s a damn shame and they should be embarrassed.
    On paper, I genuinely feel this is the best Red Sox team ever put together. Front to back, they are absolutely loaded with people who fit where they need them to, and if they fail in October, or worse yet, don’t get there, It’s a bust.
    If it held true for NY, it holds true here too.

    Brad February 15, 2011, 8:45 am
  • “If everyone is healthy…”
    No excuses. The Sox are the best! ;)

    krueg February 15, 2011, 10:14 am
  • This is a really good Sox team, but the best ever? I’m on record as saying they are the class of the AL, but the best Sox team ever? That’s a lot of pressure on guys like Ellsbury, Drew, Scutaro, Saltalamaccatek, Crawford, etc…I think in fairness you need to give the new guys time to adjust and let guys that are coming off missing complete seasons (Ellsbury) get their feet back under them. As good as this team may be they may be even better in 2012! I wouldn’t lay down the “best Sox team ever” title just yet.

    John - YF February 15, 2011, 10:24 am
  • It’s definitely worth revisiting. I personally think, on paper anyhow, this team is better than I’ve ever seen. Maybe not the best ever, but definitely better than I’ve ever seen.
    I wouldn’t trade this team for 2004 or 2007.
    2003 is close, but didn’t have the potential of this pitching staff or bullpen.
    But, for now, I’ll partially agree with you.

    Brad February 15, 2011, 11:17 am

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