Look, the "genius" label gets tossed around way to often in terms of sports management. Billy Beane is often considered the brightest bulb in the bunch in recent years. Former Twins GM Terry Ryan has created a model of modest success despite historically tight budgets set by notorious tightwad Carl Pohlad. Theo Epstein is a virtual deity in New England, and rightfully so. Brian Cashman is universally respected by his peers.
Here's the difference: it's one thing to be smart, it's entirely another to be smart AND have (virtually) unlimited resources. The Yanks and RedSox have built deep, powerful and impressive farm systems the last few years. How? Not just due to great scouting departments. It takes CASH, and a lot of it. With the MLB draft/slotting system irrevocably flawed (the link is dated but still relevant), big market teams, or teams with owners willing to go the extra few yards, can exploit this system to their benefit. The Yanks, Sox and Tigers are doing just that.
Pete Abraham of the LoHud Yankees blog dug these stats out of the BA Prospect Handbook:
Yanks spending on draft picks the last few years:
- 2007: $7.4 million
- 2006: $6.3 million
- 2005: $3.7 million
- 2004: $4.8 million
- 2003: $3.8 million
- 2007: $3.5 million
- 2006: $6.8 million
- 2005: $6.2 million
- 2004: $1.8 million
- 2003: $5.1 million
I won't even bring up the fact that endless resources allows a team to bury mistakes without crippling it's chances long term. Pavano, Jaret Wright, Kei Igawa, Edgar Renteria, JD Drew, Coco Crisp, Eric Gagne.... Any of those on a small market team could naplam a team's chances. But for the big guys, they can just write it off and that's more than a tremendous advantage.
Just remember, it was the late Bill Veeck, owner of the Chicago White Sox, who said: ''It isn't the high price of stars that's expensive, it's the high price of mediocrity.''