Michael Baron, Contributor
On Saturday, the Red Sox defeated the Tigers to win the American League pennant.
The Red Sox won 97 games and the American League East in 2013 after losing 93 games and finishing in last place in 2012.
After Boston won the pennant, Mets fan Michael Torres on Twitter asked if it was possible the Mets could make similar acquisitions that Boston made last winter, suggesting the Mets could enjoy a similar level of success next season.
The Red Sox acquired a lot of mid-level free agents on shorter-term deals, such as Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew, among others, all of whom came with risk. These are the kinds of deals Sandy Alderson has envisioned signing since the day he arrived here, as they promote both roster and payroll flexibility with the ability to augment the roster as needed. This strategy can be successful regardless of payroll size. And, GM’s around the game are clearly trying to avoid signing as many long-term contracts as possible.
However, this model isn’t so cut and dry…
First off, the Red Sox changed the culture by firing Bobby Valentine and hiring John Farrell last winter. They also depended on a ton of luck when they acquired their new crop players. For instance, it wasn’t clear Napoli would stay healthy, let alone succeed as much as he did defensively this season. It also wasn’t clear Victorino would bounce back the way he did, and so on…
Boston also already had Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury, all of whom have track records of success. They didn’t commit to a complete rebuild – they mostly retooled their roster with shorter-term investments.
The Mets, on the other hand, have committed to rebuilding, regardless of what anyone says. They stripped their roster of their contractual albatrosses – both through trade and patience over the last three years. What’s left is David Wright, a lot of promising young pitchers both on the roster and in the pipeline, and many position players who may or may not be able to start on any other team. That’s basically it, and that’s a huge difference between the two clubs.
That’s not to say the Mets can’t improve through similar-type deals this winter. With the setbacks and regressions on the big league roster in 2013 – which Sandy Alderson has publicly acknowledged exists – it would be naive of anyone to think the Mets front office doesn’t still have a lot of work to do to get to the stage the Red Sox have reached.
But as I’ve said repeatedly, actions speak louder than words…