I wrote recently about the Sox bias against signing older players to long term contracts, and whether that theory could work. My thought was that it kind of just did. The Sox just won the World Series with a roster almost completely empty of older players on long-term deals. They were almost exclusively short-term vets, and players on their initial contracts. So, they could be forgiven if they thought that it could work again.
But, is that what gave them the idea in the first place?
Last spring, I don’t remember any talk of limiting veteran contracts as a rule. Sure, Drew was a short term deal. But, that was supposedly so he wouldn’t block the way for Bogaerts/Iglesias this year. The same went for the Victorino and Napoli standard three-year contracts. I didn’t hear anyone suggest they were only signing them because that’s all they were signing players to. They had young outfielders in the system that couldn’t be blocked. Some of them might even end up at first base. We needed stopgaps. I heard a lot of talk last spring about “bridge” contracts. I didn’t hear anything about a new direction.
Then they went and won the World Series.
Did that change things from a bridge to a launching pad?
Did they sit back this winter and think to themselves, “Lookie here. We have nobody on the team signed long-term, other than that mistake we made with Pedroia. Why should we open ourselves up to any more mistakes?” So, they sat down and looked over contracts, and decided that youngsters and selected veterans could actually work. It could really be their new plan.
Or, was that the plan all along? Did they sign their free agents last year with all this in mind? Did they grumble about extending Pedroia? Was he the exception they were willing to make? Did everything last year go exactly as they thought it might?
If so, was winning it all last year a bad thing? (Or, as bad a thing as being the defending World Champions can be.) Did it give them false hope? Or false affirmation?
Or, was it the proof that what they wanted to do all along was the right move?
It just didn’t work so well this year.