In one of an increasingly deep pile of quality stories she’s putting out on the Sox for the Globe, beat writer Amelie Benjamin highlights one of the reasons “big market” teams will always have an advantage in Major League Baseball, even if they had the hardest salary cap in all of professional sports. Money is just used in so many different ways to make a baseball team successful that salaries are only a fraction of the equation.
The team has done similar things with Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia, sending them to facilities to make sure they work on specific things in the offseason.The player doesn’t go. The player isn’t sent by his agent. The team sends the player. Does anyone think the cost of the facility or the housing is paid for by the player himself? Do you think the Kansas City Royals are sending as many of their minor league prospects to these kinds of places? Consider the number of staff Mike Hazen has at his disposal to develop programs for specific players, track their progress and modify those programs to maximize success.
Bowden, one of the Red Sox' promising minor league pitchers, ranked No. 94 among Baseball America's top 100 prospects, was driving to a gym in Chicago when his cellphone rang in early October. On the line was Mike Hazen, the Red Sox director of player development, asking him his plans for the next six weeks. Bowden paused, knowing what might be coming. Or knowing, at least, that any plans he had made just might need to be canceled.
So, after a brief delay because of teammate Justin Masterson's wedding in South Bend, Ind., Bowden took off for Pensacola in early November, heading for a shared apartment with Buchholz and a whole lot of food.
“Just highlighting a few of the physical things that we have stressed with him since he signed, most notably from a stretching standpoint," Hazen said, explaining why Bowden was sent to API. He's more of a tighter-wound pitcher. That's just who he is physiologically. We just felt like having that dedicated strength and conditioning for six weeks was worth for us the investment to make."
The only think you might be able to do to remedy this is to make the minor leagues truly independent from the major league clubs. In essence you would create a relationship that would be similar to colleges and the pros in basketball and football. But that would be a MAJOR change in the way the sport has operated for a long, long time.
And it would still not touch other ways in which teams are able to gain an advantage by having greater resources. Consider money spent on the quality and quantity of managers, coaches, souting staff. Team facilities, like gyms and lockerooms.