The Boston Red Sox weren't a good team last year. The Philadelphia Phillies weren't a good team this year. But, red pinstriped loyalists should restrain themselves from making any deep connections between John Farrell's current playoff squad and the Phillies' potential 2014 fortunes.
The Red Sox will be heading to the World Series if they can knock off the Detroit Tigers in the American League's Championship Series. Bobby Valentine's group went 69-93 last season, which was poor enough to finish dead last in the AL East.
Boston's quick turnaround is fully tied to its massive trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in late-August 2012. Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto were all jettisoned in a pure salary dump. Other than the acquisition of James Loney, who was allowed to file for free agency after the season ended, the other four players who were obtained barely made a dime.
The enormous payroll leverage that general manager Ben Cherington purposely created allowed him to revamp his roster. Obviously, his monied arrow hit the bull's-eye.
Unless Ruben Amaro, Jr. is somehow able to subtract a number of heavy contracts from his big league roster, Sandberg will be stuck with many of the same cards that he played out last season. In today's game, there's no way 'Ryno' can bluff his way into the playoffs (or possibly even to .500) with that hand.
Extra inning: The names of Jonathan Papelbon (Phillies) and Shane Victorino (Red Sox) were moved from the introduction to this ending line in order avoid driving the plot point home too soon.