This is a great discussion, and one I've been thinking a lot about while watching the Nationals. These were the former Expos, and now they are considered the elite of baseball. Meanwhile we are looking like a patchwork team of aging vets and AAA players (Sale and maybe Reed excluded. ) Can't say we're playing it cheap. While you weren't looking, we're back up to $120 million in payroll, but there still is this feeling that 85 wins is as good as can be expected.
Baseball philosophies have changed, really in the last few years. I will date it from the Evan Longoria long term rookie year contract that the Rays did locking him up through his arbitration eligibility years and beyond. It set up the new formula for building a good team. That is, be bad enough to get good draft picks. Early on, lock em up to long term contracts though their prime years and develop a youthful core. I think television revenue has allowed even the small market teams to start doing this. The result is that it becomes tough for the free spenders to find the talent on the market (see the Yankees who are left making due with Hafner and Youkilis. ) For better or worse this is the way the Cubs seem to be going.
This leads to the curse of mediocrity that he Sox are in. We're not bad enough to get the draft picks that can get us he Harpers or Strasburgs. Nor is there young talent out there to buy. Unlike the Cubs, I don't think we could survive a tear down and rebuild. In short I don't know what the solution is, but I hope some of you folks that are a lot smarter than me on this can make some suggestions.
Final 2014 Home Attendance Record 5-11.