It is not far-fetched to say this past week has been the most important offseason week in Red Sox history.
The signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford have made the Sox the prohibitive favorite in the American League East, even if C.C. Sabbathia of the Yankees thinks otherwise, and for the World Series, whether the Yankees get Cliff Lee or not.
The perspective from the other teams in the East is not pretty.
Toronto will go into the season with a real good starting staff and the home run bat of Jose Bautista, and it won’t matter.
The Orioles (for whom I broadcast) had hoped to improve with a big signing themselves, but nothing they have done can compare to the Boston moves.
The Orioles, too, have a real solid young starting staff, but will it matter?
The Rays cannot be the same team without Crawford and Carlos Pena, and they also have some good young pitching.
These teams enter the season knowing they have to face the Sox 18 times each. With the balance of speed, power and pitching for Boston, trying to win the season series against them will be a monster task.
As all know from the past Sox season, injuries can turn all expectations to dust. The odds are that it is a Red Sox year to stay healthy.
Ironically, the Sox have become the Yankees. The spending, the long-term deals, the attempt to buy a pennant and the marked disparity in talent amassed makes Boston the team that will now be cited as a reason to make a million changes in the rules to seek parity.
One clear aspect of what has happened over the last decade in player movement is that the powerhouse teams have become the desired destination of players.
High-priced players, who know they will get the money no matter where they go, can move on to a second consideration, winning a World Series.
That leads them right down money lane and the busiest highways of that traffic head to Boston and New York.
Worse yet for those attempting to compete without all the dollars is the attraction the moneyed teams have for talent developed in other teams’ systems.
There is now a magic window, passed through by the Rays in 2008 and 2010 when they won the East, where teams must build around home-grown young talent, usually pitching, and hope to win before that talent is lured away by bigger money.
Rays manager Joe Maddon told the New York Times after Crawford signed with the Sox, “He was our first organically grown Ray. He is truly Mr. Ray.”
No longer. That is good news for Boston and hellacious news for the competition.
Now come the 162 games.