Not every prospect will pan out. The vast majority of them won't. But if one of Bradley or Brentz becomes an every day regular and if Bogaerts (arguably the best short stop prospect the team has had since Nomar) doesn't derail, they could have some really cheap and impressive contributions at shortstop and center field in two years. Why not wait to see if that happens? There's no plausible path to becoming a division favorite in 2013 without emptying the farm. Just a few months ago the biggest complaint around here was that the farm system was too thin at the top and they had no real depth for the bloated major league roster because of the trades they'd made in the previous years.
Quoted for truth. I would also suggest that if we frame the choice as between the 25-man roster and the farm, we're missing the point.
It's hardly a stretch to point out that the principal contrast between the (totally fantastic) 2007 team and subsequent, similarly talented but much less successful editions, was health.
But the other difference was the incredible depth the team had that year in the high minors. A look through the roster of the 2007 Pawtucket Red Sox
shows many useful pieces. Among the pitchers, Lester and Buchholz certainly stick out (they started 14 games between them for the big club, Lester more in the postseason), but guys like Breslow, Pauley, Gabbard, and Lopez also threw meaningful innings for Pawtucket. Hell, Manny Delcarmen was a useful arm. The hitters were just as interesting. The late-season contributions of Jacoby Ellsbury are memorable, but guys like Moss, Murphy, and Lowrie were also hanging around. That's real, meaningful depth at a lot of positions.
We had good health in 2007, so that extensive depth didn't come into play as much as it might have. But we saw the difference in later years: trade away enough of those guys, those Gabbards and Mosses and Murphys, and soon enough you've got the likes of Kevin Cash, Nick Green and Jonathan Van Every playing meaningful innings for your team.
A championship-level team requires a deep 40-man roster, and more, even. You need to have genuinely useful players in the high minors. The potential effectiveness of cleaning out the minors for the major league club will show when, say, you trade for Victor Martinez — great! — but then the pitching implodes, only now Masterson and Hagadone, who might have been your optionable depth, play for the Tribe.
This is not to say one should never make that kind of trade — or even that that one was a bad move — but that there's a limit to the number of win-now moves you can make before the edifice rots from within.
edited for clarity.
Edited by nvalvo, 09 September 2012 - 03:04 PM.