This is an excellent thread topic. I agree with a lot of the points people have already raised here. The problem indeed is that the Sox operate their organization in such a way that this team is good enough to win about 83 games and make the playoffs about once every 5 years. That's not good enough to build up a stronger fan base in Chicago.
The biggest problem is that their philosophy doesn't seem to put much of a priority on developing a better minor league system. Who was the last position player that came through the Sox system that became a solid major league player? Aaron Rowand? He was drafted FIFTEEN years ago! Since then, the best I can think of are Chris Young and Gordon Beckham. This team doesn't have enough internal talent to either fill holes in the major league roster and in recent years has shown that it often doesn't have enough talent to trade for established major league players. Without such talent, this team is never going to win on a consistent basis by just relying on "under the radar" acquisitions and the occasional big contract acquisitions (like Dunn and Peavy).
I guess I don't understand this argument that the Sox have a bad farm system because they can't afford to rebuild. I totally agree that this franchise can ill-afford to go the "total rebuild" route, but since when is that the only way to develop more talent from within. It's not all about getting a top 10 pick in the draft (though that can help). Good teams can develop good players too.
You can't say that JR is unwilling to put money into payroll since the Sox have had a high major league payroll for several years now, but it's not just about giving big contracts to veterans like Dunn and Konerko. Perhaps the problem is that the Sox are willing to make such big expenditures only if that cost is made up somewhere else. So, they have a big MLB payroll, but only as the expense of putting little money into scouting, drafts, etc.
I'd say another philosophical problem is ownership's loyalty to a fault. Ozzie pissed on the fans and put one foot in Miami while managing the Sox and was only let go when he pretty much pushed the issue and asked to be released from his contract. KW hasn't been very successful since 2008 and yet he's still here - promoted to VP or whatever his title is.
Finally, the other line of thinking about the Sox that I think is completely wrong and total bull**** is this notion that "well, the Sox were winning last year and the fans still didn't show up. It's not the ownership's fault that fans won't even support a winner."
When I hear people say that, it just makes me want to scream in frustration. Do people really think that the Sox being good for 3 months only to fall short every year is good enough to lay this on fan support? I don't know if Sox management feels this way, but this is certainly a common thinking about this team even from it's own fans. So, I'd say this is a lousy philosophical way to look at the Sox even if it's not necessarily coming from team management.
Originally Posted by blandman
The way I see it, the Sox are doing exactly what they need to in order to maximize their profits with our fanbase. Spending too much comes with the risk of losing tens of millions if the team doesn't reach expectations. Conversely, rebuilding properly to produce a true winner reduces revenue in the short term. Building a high 70 to low 80 winner consistently, affording for luck, has allowed the team to appear competitive (and produced significant revenue). I don't think that fans will go away if we rebuild is an issue so much as the lost short term revenue. Keeping our average team out there is a successful model for them, at least as long as we continue to support this system with our money.
I think you're absolutely right. The Sox have a sweetheart deal at the Cell. They've done a good job of avoiding the 90 loss range for most of Reinsdorf's tenure. I think they realize having that kind of team for any extended period would really hurt them financially. They're in a sweet spot (for them) where the team is just good enough to keep fans and the media mildly interested in them and keep the revenues coming in without having to really risk their profit margins by sinking too much into trying to build an elite team.