Life is tough for small-market Red Sox

It sounds as if Larry Lucchino, CEO of the Red Sox, is already making excuses for when his team fails to win the World Series this year.

In calling out the Yankees and Dodgers for their spending habits -- "They're a different flavor of ice cream than anyone else in baseball. The Dodgers are now using that same game plan, I suppose, certainly more so than anyone else in baseball," Lucchino said -- the implication is that those two clubs are operating on a different level than the poor, cash-strapped franchises like the Red Sox.

"They don't want to win any more than we do," Lucchino added. "They're just not as concerned about reasonable spending as we are."

In other words: Sure, we wanted to sign Masahiro Tanaka as much as the next guy. We just don't have the money to compete for players like the big, bad Yankees and Dodgers do.

Good try, Larry.

The Red Sox, of course, have spent the second-most total dollars on payroll over the past five seasons, second only to the Yankees. Have they spent as much as the Yankees? No. But the difference in payroll between the Red Sox and the Rays has been larger than the difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Even in 2013, when the Red Sox trimmed their Opening Day payroll from $175 million to $155 million, they had the fourth-largest Opening Day payroll behind only the Yankees, Dodgers and Phillies. They're not exactly the Pirates or A's here.

For all the accolades given to the Red Sox for their 2012-2013 offseason when they went after second-tier free agents like Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes, let's be honest here: They still bought those players. You don't think the Pirates are smart enough to know they could have improved their club this winter with a couple of strategic free-agent signings? You don't think the Rays would just once want to sign a free agent that costs more than the Red Sox pay for a part-time left fielder?

And yet Lucchino still says, "Everyone's playing by the same rules we are, with the exception of those with unlimited money and willingness to spend it. But I'm relatively optimistic we have the right people in place and the right commitment of ownership."

If we win, it's because of the smart guys like me. If we lose -- at least to the Yankees or the Dodgers -- it's because we can't spend money like they do.

Hey, give the Red Sox credit. They've built a powerhouse organization (although truth be told, they've generally been successful since 1967) in a great baseball city. Lucchino and the rest of the business people have extracted every ounce of revenue out of Fenway Park, enabling the team to construct $150 million-plus payrolls. Their farm system continues to churn out quality talent, with Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. ready to assume starting roles in 2014.

But come on, Larry: You're still closer to the Yankees' methods of winning than you like to admit.