One of the most often said phrases is “Keeping up with the Joneses,” a catchphrase referring to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social status or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to “keep up with the Joneses” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan built up the Star Wars defense initiative and the Soviet Union tried to keep up but went bankrupt. Not until the Russians privatized their state industries did the Russian Mafia become the wealthy capitalists they are now.
In the case of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, it would be baseball inferiority, with the Yankees leading the way and Red Sox trying to keep up. Yanks get Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, the Red Sox get scared and re-sign Josh Beckett and go out and sign John Lackey.
So when the Red Sox did not advance past the first round of the playoffs in 2009, getting swept by the Los Angeles Angels, and then FAILED to make the post season last year, they have to do something else now, right?
The Red Sox must be thinking, “We can’t let the Evil Empire go out and get Cliff Lee. And now they are talking about getting Carl Crawford?”
We must do something!
Theo Epstein had to move quickly to get the guy he has always desired, Adrian Gonzalez. Reports have Gonzalez already in Boston for a physical to complete the deal.
Confirmed reports say it definitely includes RHP Casey Kelly, 1B Anthony Rizzo and OF Reymond Fuentes. The Sox are giving up their top pitching and positional prospect available to trade (Anthony Renaudo can not be traded yet) and what potential studs they had at the higher levels of their farm system are now gone.
*I feel the Padres got rooked in this deal, and that the deal was basically a give back to Theo from his former assistants Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes. Rizzo is two years away, as is Kelly, while Fuentes, an outstanding defensive outfielder, might be four years away. None of these guys are major league ready talent.
Most of their next wave of Red Sox positional talent is down in the lower levels.
But the Red Sox do have a set pitching staff entering 2011 with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Felix Doubront, who the Padres did not receive, is a very capable reserve starter.
That is it, though. There are no other starting pitchers in their higher up system who is any good. So the Red Sox have a top six with no others to complement them if there is an injury.
Also, while their lineup will be better with Gonzalez, a lineup of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew, Varitek, Scutaro is top heavy. While it is not easy to navigate, many of the guys can be pitched to.
It is not nearly as good as the names suggest.
Pedroia, Ellsbury and Youkilis are coming off injuries and Ortiz will get off to his usual slow start. What if one of the aging guys gets hurt? Where do they go for help? Will Drew continue to decline in his final year? Varitek getting another 400 plate appearances like he did in 2009 is enough for any Red Sox fan to groan.
Is Jed Lowrie (always injured) or Ryan Kalish the answer? Darnell McDonald? C’mon. Since no one of very high talent is coming through the system now, the Red Sox will be required to dig deep again into their pocketbooks and sign Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth.
The reason for going and getting Gonzalez and needing Crawford/Werth is that the Sox missed out on Mark Teixeira two years ago. They put all their eggs in the Tex basket, but when Mark decided on the Yankees, Theo needed to go to Plan B.
They traded for Victor Martinez last season (even though they gave up nothing) but V-Mart left and created a huge hole the Sox could not fill internally. Now the trade of more young players for Gonzalez.
The Red Sox are trying to keep up with what the Yankees are projecting by boosting their lineup with Gonzalez and possibly Crawford/Werth.
But the A.L. East is based upon pitching to these stacked lineups and the Red Sox are treading on thin ice with their starting staff and bullpen.
The Red Sox staff of Clay Buchholz and John Lester were good, while Beckett, Lackey and Dice-K were basically ineffective.
Victor Martinez gave them a pretty good hitter in the middle of their lineup last season, a switch hitter with some power. Gonzalez gives them Gold Glove defense (although Youk was pretty good over there, too) and will probably hit 35-40 HRs.
Is A-Gon’s productivity enough of a difference over what they got with Martinez last season to justify trading away their top pitching and positional prospects? AGon’s WAR last year was 6.3 while VMart, in 154 less plate appearances was 3.8.
Will Youkilis be a good enough defender at third base for an entire season?
Trying to keep up with the Yankees is tough to do as the Yankees have many more pieces in their farm system they can trade off. Plus, if the organization allows them to, more who will be able to contribute within two years.
Keeping up with the Yankees via outside, high-priced talent is going to eventually bankrupt the Red Sox, both in the terms of money and a farm system to replace their senior citizen players with internal talent.
You can’t keep up with the Joneses, let alone the “Evil Empire” in the Bronx.
The other Evil Empire learned that 30 years ago