Savvy Sox poised to compete

Just as money and message are two cornerstones of a successful political campaign, health and performance go a long way in powering a sucessful baseball team.

Translation: If David Ortiz and Mike Lowell have good seasons, the Sox could go deep into the post-season, in part because of stacked starting pitching: Beckett; Lester; Dice-K; Penny; Smoltz; Wakefield. And now we've got what could be a resurgent Rocco Baldelli, making for a nice hometown story.

While the Yankees have made a (much-needed) splash with their big off-season spending spree, let's call up some deja vu, courtesy of Alex Speier at WEEI:

It was the winter of 2002-03, the first in which Theo Epstein served as the Red Sox general manager. During the offseason, it seemed that the Yankees were constructing an overpowering force, adding Japanese star Hideki Matsui to an already potent lineup, and beating the Sox in the Jose Contreras sweepstakes to solidify a potentially dominant rotation.

Teams across Major League Baseball cried foul, suggesting that the Yankees were engaged in fiscally irresponsible behavior at a time of economic hardship and declining revenues and salaries. Many conceded baseball pre-eminence to New York, not just for the 2003 campaign but for years to come.

The Red Sox had no apparent moves with which they could counter. While the Yankees spent freely on a four-year deal for Contreras and a three-year deal for Matsui, Boston was left to bottom feed.

The result was arguably the most successful offseason under Epstein & Co. The Sox acquired five players with a track record of accomplishment but whose recent struggles or injuries had driven down their values.

And we know how that worked out: it set the stage, in the most satisfying way imaginable (in hindsight, of course) for this.

So let the Yankees load up on their overpriced stars. As some other Sox loyalists have suggested elsewhere, it will make beating them that much better.

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