There is plenty of truth and plenty of myth in both of those statements. Let's look at the Yankees first...
I pulled this from somewhere last week, and unfortunately did not save the link:
In other news, there are reports that the Yankees will send their top draft pick in 2005–20-year-old shrotstop C.J. Henry–along with a reliever to the Phillies in return for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. From the Red Sox’s perspective, this wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. [Mr. F: This was obviously written before the Massacre during which Abreu was on base at a .630 clip and Lidle threw six shutout innings of 3-hit ball to complete the 5-game sweep—all but eliminating the Red Sox] The Yankees’ four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000 were won on the backs of players who came up through the Yankees’ farm system during between 1990 and 1993, the time during which George “Instant Gratification” Steinbrenner was banned from baseball... (Posada, Rivera, Pettitte, Williams and Jeter—all are still with the team) ...It seems unlikely all these players would have been in New York had Steinbrenner, who always wants to win right now and worry about tomorrow when it comes, been in control of the team. Abreu and Lidle would definitely make the Yankees better in the immediate short-term. But, Abreu–like Randy Johnson and Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon and Carl Pavano–would cost a boatload of money and decrease New York’s flexibility going forward. And the loss of cheap, young talent could very well burn the Yankees in the future.
In the middle, the writer points out that the foundation of the most recent Yankee dynasty and it's continued regular season dominance is from a core group of players that Steinbrenner, if given the chance, would have traded away for a bunch of Ken Phelps(s). This is probably true. But the Yankees do not get enough credit for winning with a core of homegrown talent, many of whom are still valuable contributors. Yes, they augmented that group with an ever-evolving cast of top-dollar free agents and trades, but with the exception of Alfonso Soriano, I cannot think of anybody traded in the Cashman era that has gone on to do anything significant. And they got value for Soriano.
Look at the Abreu/Lidle trade. Many were skeptical of trading for Abreu, but I wasn't—not for the Yankees anyway—I did NOT want the Sox to trade for him. The only part of me that looks back on that differently now, is that the Yanks got those two guys SO cheaply and they both address critical needs for the Sox—a good No. 5 hitter and an innings-eating starter. If the Sox could have given up one prospect for those guys I would have done it.
The frustration for me with the Yankees is that they seem to get away with lopsided deals like that, when they really should be over a barrel. Then, without getting too Shaugnessian, anyone who pulls on the pinstripes seems to turn into Roy Hobbs.
The Yankees team that just shredded the Sox over five games featured three new homegrown, solid players: Robinson Cano (who seems like the real deal), Wang and Melky Cabrera, along with the now veteran core of Jeter, Rivera, Bernie and Dumbo. That's 5-6 of the nine players on the field being Yankee pipeline talent. Sure the other 3-4 guys and whoever's on the mound are mercenaries and make a combined $100 million, but the myth of the Yanks being only free agents is simply not true. They won four Championships with home-grown talent, and are still a dominant team and poised to remain that way for the next few years with an infusion of new young talent. The true advantage of their payroll is that they can afford to make mistakes like Pavano, fill holes with the best free agents and build a bench of other team's All-Stars.
While it's true they haven't won the World Series, they have won the Division every year since 2001. Somebody please point me to the prospect that the Yanks have traded away over the last five years that has proven to be anthing other than hype.
On the other hand let's look at Theo's track record. Over the last couple years he has traded away two middle infielders, one of whom has 40 steals and is hitting .275 and the other is leading the NL in hitting. Get back to me when C.J. Henry is doing that for the Phils.
Theo gets credit for the gutsy Nomar/Cabrera trade, but he followed that up letting Cabrera walk and had his own Steinbrenner moment with Edgar Rentaria, a brutal free-agent signing and the Sox are now paying him to be an All-Star for the Braves.
I am not going to secondguess Theo's two biggest moves of the year, Arroyo for Wily Mo, and getting Coco Crisp over keeping Damon. I understood those trades, agreed with them at the time, and think in the long run they will prove correct, though this year they are killing us.
It's the "fringe" deals where Epstein has blown it. Before the season the Sox traded Doug Mirabelli to San Diego for Loretta (good), but then, five Wakefield starts later, traded two players to get him back. This seemed unimportant at the time, backup catchers and obscure relievers... But, with the injury to Varitek, we are now treated everyday to the two-headed Mendoza monster that is Mirabelli and Javy Lopez, while the Josh Bard, 28, (switch!)-hits .325 in a pitcher's park, and the throw-in player is a 24 year-old reliever" currently sporting an ERA of 1.05. That guy might have come in handy last weekend...
Standing pat at the trade deadline has proven disastrous as well. This is not Oakland, this is Boston, and the Red Sox were a first place club charging the highest prices in the sport that had some serious weakspots. They had a 4-game lead on July 1, by the deadline it was down to 1 game, and now they trail by 6 1/2. And there are two teams ahead of them for the Wild Card.
Greg Maddux would have been nice, and the Cubs got a no-hit, Tommy John-recovering shortstop for him. Colorado was apparently interested in Tavarez and/or Seanez. I would have taken a case of Big League Chew to get those arsonists out of the bullpen. Relying on 40-year-old Mike Timlin after letting him pitch in the WBC was a mistake. And how you can possibly expect to compete in the AL East without a left-handed reliever defies explanation.
Long story short, Brian Cashman and Steinbrenner addressed their team's need, and in my opinion didn't "give up the future" to do it. Theo, while admirably keeping an eye to the future, did NOTHING for the present, and the Red Sox will need a miraculous collapse by one (or more) of the three teams ahead of them to make the post-season.