Sox Get Cheap in '09, and That's a Good Thing

One benefit of going young: Fewer big contracts to stress

Just the other day we covered the rumbles surrounding Sox GM Kenny Williams' decision to "go young" in 2009. (We've always wondered: Where do these rumbles come from? How do they start? They're like a tidal wave; they keep getting bigger, but no one can pinpoint the nexus. Anyway.) Williams' plan for the Sox amounts to a directional change for the franchise, which in the past relied heavily on veterans.

Some fans might worry that the Sox are sacrificing that veteran whateverness for young players, but they shold take heed: In the impending down economy, from which baseball is not entirely immune, the Sox' payroll is going to shrink to a very manageable level, and some of their best players are going to be their cheapest. The Javier Vazquez and Nick Swisher trades freed up oodles of contract space for Williams to work within, and in the meantime the Sox will be committed to only $35 million of salary in 2010.

Why is this good news? Because Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin -- the young players that, along with Alexei Ramirez, help make up the team's core -- will be arbitration eligible in 2010. They're likely to get a temporary salary hike before they hit free agency. But in the meantime, the Sox are an efficient ballclub in 2010. They're young, they're cheap, and they might even be OK at, you know, playing baseball, though that remains a question. If you squint hard enough, you can almost see Kenny Williams' team in the Moneyball mold. Just don't tell Kenny that.

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