I know, it sounds crazy. Am I really going to propose using the Boston Red Sox as a model of comparison for the Houston Astros?
Obviously there is not a clear 100% correlation here, but there are some things to work with. Obviously we are not talking about 2014, but it is something to keep in mind for the future.
Yes Boston is a big market and their payroll reflects that, but its not like Houston is such a small market. Sure they have behaved like at most a mid-level market in the past, but the potential is there. The Astros just need to capitalize on it and engage their fans. Oh, and rectifying the Comcast situation would certainly be helpful.
But the one thing to keep in mind here, is that the current edition of the Red Sox did not start having success until they traded away big money super stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Yes, you need to spend money on star players, but it is not on a one size fits all basis. If you are going to spend money, it needs to be on the right player that fits your team. And it is not an arms race to accumulate as many high priced studs as possible.
The Red Sox are obviously past where the Astros are in terms of competing, so the need to sign solid veterans like Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes is not yet there. However, this does prove that Houston does need to place an importance on intangibles. This is not fantasy baseball where you have to add as many good players as you can. That was proved with the trade of Gonzalez and Crawford.
What does give me hope, is the evidence that strikeouts are in fact alright. Heading into Game Six, Boston had struck out 156 times in the postseason and 50 times in the World Series. Both were records. You can strike out if you still have smart at bats and work pitchers deep into the game with the capability of capitalizing on their mistakes.
The best three position players Boston has were not big market additions. Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury are home grown and David Ortiz was a bargain basement signing before his career took off. They also have the top prospect in Xander Bogaerts, and the solid veterans like Napoli, Gomes, and Victorino.
On the pitching side, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz were products of the farm system as well. The bullpen was also built without big overpriced signings. But it does prove that depth and experience are necessities.
The key here, is that Boston is truly a complete team and they were built as such. As of now the Astros appear to be on that path, but the time will come when the payroll will have to be expanded beyond $100 million.