Lucchino: Yanks' signings fuel rivalry

Updated: January 24, 2014, 4:20 PM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino chuckled when asked what he thought of the Yankees spending nearly $500 million on new players this winter.

"It's like 'Back To The Future,' is my sense," he said. "I've seen this movie before.

"Anything that can be done that increases the intensity of the rivalry, as this certainly does, I think is positive -- as long as it doesn't go so far as to give them the advantage."

Lucchino said he and fellow Sox owners John W. Henry and Tom Werner are just as committed to winning as the Yankees, but not when it means "crazy expenditures that might be commonplace in New York."

White You can't just go into the grocery store and buy exactly what you need to win. A lot of other things go into it as well. Luck, injuries, and all of that. Suffice to say, we won't have any problem rekindling the rivalry with the Yankees.

-- Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino

Lucchino, who was at the Boston Baseball Writers dinner Thursday, was reminded that the last time the Yankees reloaded in similar big-dollar fashion, after the 2008 season, signing CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira (a player highly coveted by the Sox), they won the World Series in 2009 after missing the playoffs the year before.

"Different players," he said. "I understand that. You can't just go into the grocery store and buy exactly what you need to win. A lot of other things go into it as well. Luck, injuries, and all of that. Suffice to say, we won't have any problem rekindling the rivalry with the Yankees.

"They're a different flavor of ice cream than anyone else in baseball. The Dodgers are now using that same game plan, I suppose, certainly more so than anyone else in baseball."

Lucchino has known Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten for years. He was asked in jest if he ever picks up the phone and asks Kasten what on earth he's doing.

"Pretty much no," Lucchino said. "I've asked him that before. These guys want to win and they want to win now. Money is not an issue. I suppose potentates in other leagues around the world want to do that, too, but it's a different business plan than we have. They don't want to win any more than we do. They're just not as concerned about reasonable spending as we are."

The Red Sox have been no strangers to expensive long-term deals, having signed Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal after the 2010 season, when they also traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed him to a seven-year, $154 million deal. But with the Sox headed toward a last-place finish in 2012, they unloaded Crawford, Gonzalez and Josh Beckett, another high-priced veteran, to the Dodgers, and altered course. They still spent, signing eight free agents, but opted for complementary players willing to sign for fewer years. Under a new manager, John Farrell, the Sox won the World Series for the third time in 10 years.

A key to the team's success last season was its depth, or what Lucchino liked to term "deep depth." Lucchino acknowledged the 2014 team may be a little short in that department.

"A lot of young players," he said, alluding to the club's plan to integrate rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. into the starting lineup at key positions, Bogaerts at short, Bradley in center. "It's an ever-present concern. We still talk about it all the time.

"I know it's not as deep as we would like it to be, particularly on the left side, but we always build toward that goal. I don't think we're as deep as we'd like to be."

Rules changes that limit the amount of money teams can spend in the amateur draft and international signings have given teams fewer options to the free-agent market as ways to improve their clubs. Lucchino was asked if the Red Sox's creativity in building their team has been impacted.

"The short answer to that is yes," he said. "Everyone's playing by the same rules we are, with the exception of those with unlimited money and willingness to spend it. But I'm relatively optimistic we have the right people in place and the right commitment of ownership."

Earlier this week, Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes had termed the Yankees' spending "kind of flattering."

"People can go out and sign whoever they want right now," Gomes said. "Boxing rules, we still have the belt. Whoever else reloads. Kind of flattering a little bit, you know, that [a division] rival has to reload as much as they did.

"We lost some core players; at the same time, this organization is extremely deep. The majority of our core group of guys is back. We're champs. We have to uphold that title. I don't think the mindset is going to change."

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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