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Series champion Red Sox well-positioned for continued success

BOSTON — With their third championship parade in 10 years through the streets and rivers of Boston set for Saturday morning, should the Red Sox be considered a duck boat dynasty?

Given that they also missed the playoffs four times in that decade, including 2011's historic collapse and last year's 93-loss fiasco, that designation seemingly warrants further discussion.

But as the celebration of Wednesday's World Series win continues, the Sox have numerous reasons to feel good — much to the dismay of the Rays and others — about their chances for continued success.

"We're in a very healthy place," manager John Farrell said.

For one, they have removed the stigma and the stain of the previous two seasons with not only an improved roster but a tidal change in clubhouse culture.

"Our focus was (to come) in and do nothing but play baseball," Series MVP David Ortiz said, "which is different than last year."

Farrell spoke often during the postseason about the commitment the players had made, to each other and to the team concept. General manager Ben Cherington praised the way they bought in and put winning first.

And when owner John Henry stood on the podium after Wednesday's clincher before the frenzied Fenway faithful, he called them "the most deserving players" he had been around and claimed he had "never seen such heart."

Touting a so-happy-together atmosphere could have residual benefit, as free agent players who were leery of the Boston experience — having seen, for example, what former Rays star Carl Crawford went through — now might be more open given the success enjoyed by newcomers such as Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and former Ray Jonny Gomes.

"What's happened here probably is taken note (of) around the league," Farrell said. "I think in the eyes of some, Boston might present some specific challenges that might be intimidating for certain players. But I would hope what they're witnessing would certainly become a place of destination."

For another, even though the Sox have several key pending free agents and a somewhat aging core, they have tremendous financial resources and considerable young talent in the pipeline, as evidenced by the postseason emergence of rookie infielder Xander Bogaerts.

Baseball America this week crowned the Sox as having the "most bountiful" farm system in the game, based on advanced prospects "most likely to pay dividends in the near future." The Rays were ranked 15th, and that was figuring in Wil Myers and Chris Archer, who are already part of the present.

With centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Stephen Drew, first baseman Napoli and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia all eligible to leave via free agency, the Sox could face significant challenges, even before the first duck boat turns on to Boylston Street or splashes into the Charles River.

But they feel buoyed by the results of the makeover they did last offseason, albeit only made possible, lest anyone forget, by the $260 million in financial relief afforded by the massive salary-dumping trade with the Dodgers, combined with the usual requisite amount of good fortune and good health necessary to win.

"To see it culminate in this, I can tell you this, last October, we probably didn't know we'd be sitting here," Farrell said. "But every effort was made to do just that."

And, naturally, they hope to do it again real soon.

"Your goal playing for the Red Sox every year is to try to be at this point and win the World Series," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "That's never going to change here."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays

Series champion Red Sox well-positioned for continued success 10/31/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:29pm]

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