Originally posted on Ted's Army  |  Last updated 4/7/12
  Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino was on MLB Network Radio today with Jim Duquette and was asked about the idea of expanding the payroll to improve the pitching staff.

"We will end up being above the threshold this year. I don’t think there’s any question about that. We’ve been above the threshold the last couple of years," Lucchino said.

"Our goal is to field a team with more homegrown players, fewer free agents and to have a more manageable payroll down the road. But if you’re asking about this year, we understand that each year has to be taken on its own and this year our payroll is going to be, I’d hate to make a guess, but it’ll be well over the $178 million dollar threshold."

But the main goal would be the return of some revenue sharing money. Earlier this spring, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said his goal was to be below $189 million in 2014. Lucchino expressed much the same sentiment today.

"It’s important to us to get under the threshold when we can, depending on when the circumstances will allow us to do so," he said.

Globe - Lucchino: payroll could rise this season

Not very many people like Lucchino, for all the right reasons.  To be blunt: he's a scumbag.  So when he comes out and starts talking about payroll thresholds and slashing salaries, the initial reaction is to be outraged, because Larry clearly cares more about $$$ than W's.

But Lucchino is the CEO of the Red Sox.  And the Red Sox are a business.  Larry's main goal is to cut expenses and increase revenue.  That is the sole function of his job.  And, frankly, this has been the company line all offseason. This isn't exactly "news".

And, at its core principle, I'm onboard.  We've been trying to buy World Series trophies for a while now through free agency, with many more failures than successes.  Giving a John Lackey $80 million to be somewhere on the spectrum between awful-to-mediocre is a great way to hamstring your entire team.  You can catch lightning in a bottle through handing out huge contracts, but if we've learned anything from the 2011 season, it's that bank accounts and pure talent don't necessarily translate onto the field.

More often, like in 2004, it's chemistry and camaraderie that get you to the top.  And when you have a core group of guys that have come up through your system together, that chemistry is built in.  So if our plan is to build around homegrown players instead of mercenaries, I think that's a smart move.

The trouble with that, of course, is that you won't be fielding a team of All-Stars at every position.  There will be multiple seasons where the Sox are not World Series contenders, as the team develops and prospects flare out.  Young players trying to make their way in the league will suddenly have the pressure and expectations of the Boston media and fans thrust upon them.  You can do this in Tampa, where no one pays attention to your team.  But in Boston, we pull the panic alarm after losing Opening Day 3-2 against the reigning league MVP and Cy Young winner. 

Of course, there's a balance you can strike where you develop some young players while signing the right free agents.  But the Sox are always one or two pieces away from contending, and if we pass on Free Agent A to develop Player B, and Player B doesn't deliver, there will be hell to pay.  It's truly a lose-lose situation for the Red Sox brass. 

On Page 2, we're all ready to pounce on Beckett if he struggles.

Is he the stopper, ace and franchise cornerstone the Red Sox [team stats] believed worthy of a $68 million extension in no small part because his work ethic and approach so admirably inspired young pitchers throughout the organization?

Or is he the petulant prima donna who chugged beers while the season combusted last September, and then barely accepted responsibility because he was too busy seeking frontier justice on the “clubhouse leaks” who outed him?

Today we’ll take our first step toward an answer when Beckett makes what might very well be the most scrutinized start of his Red Sox career.

Herald - Josh Beckett drama begins

I don't disagree with Tomase when he says this may be the most scrutinized start of Beckett's career.

And that makes me angry and sad.

The only thing Sox fans and media love more than a World Series victory is kicking someone when they're down.  Or, even better, kicking someone until they're down, and then kicking them some more.

CBH published his "Beckett has to prove himself" article this morning (link below form the Globe).  I'm sure his 'jettison Beckett' column is already written for Monday.

It's Game 2, people.  Get over yourselves. 

Rest of the links:

Herald - Andrew Bailey jinxed himself | These Red Sox all new to us | Globe - Bailey gives thumbs up for return | Beckett has plenty to prove | CSNNE - Sox face daunting opening hurdles | Merloni: It's just one game | WEEI - Leiter on D&C: Let Valentine 'do his thing' | Can the Red Sox find an old-school formula for bullpen success?

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