There are two schools of thought here. The first is real simple, the Red Sox are just like the Yankees and are trying to buy a championship. There is no question the Red Sox are able to do things that most organizations are not able to do. Throw in the fact that Red Sox fans seem to be everywhere and invade stadiums from coast to coast and you can see why the average fan lumps the Red Sox in with the Yankees.
The second school of thought says the Red Sox are nothing like the Yankees. The facts show that the Red Sox payroll will be about the same as last year's and the for the next few seasons the Sox payroll will be right around that $170 million mark just below the tax threshold level.
Crawford and Gonzalez basically replace the salaries of Beltre and Victor Martinez. Crawford's contract is back loaded and he will only make $14 million this year. Adrian Gonzalez is set to make a little over $6 million this season with a big extension coming real soon.
The 2012 Red Sox will be without the big contracts of JD Drew, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Cameron, and Marco Scutaro. All that money coming off the books will allow the increase of Crawford's salary along with Adrian Gonzalez's extension.
So maybe Red Sox fans shouldn't feel guilty but instead be proud that the Red Sox and Theo Epstein thought ahead. The moves and non moves that have been made over the last few years set things up for this season and seasons to come. Maybe that bridge year that Theo talked about is making sense after all. While the Yankees are spending money on aging players, the Red Sox are spending their money on elite players heading into their prime.
Do the Red Sox have an advantage over the small market teams? Of course. Pittsburgh and the Tampa can't afford long terms deals like the ones given to and about to be given to players like Gonzalez and Crawford. Point well taken, but the Red Sox are not at the level of the Yankees and never will be when it comes to payroll and revenue streams. The Red Sox are at the next level lumped in with the Phillies, Mets, Angels etc. Don't feel guilty Red Sox fans. This off-season was great because the Red Sox are run the right way and have been run the right way since 2002.