Rivalry back to 2003-2004 intensity
That’s right. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry got a little tepid by its lofty standards from 2006-2008. Not anymore. We are back to peak intensity after the Yankees got Mark Teixeira yesterday for a cool $180 million over eight years. You know what? That’s fine.
All along, I couldn’t get into the whole Teixeira move mainly because I thought it was a terrible thing to do to Mike Lowell, one of the classiest and most professional Red Sox players I’ve ever come across.
So fine, the Red Sox made Teixeira a very fair offer — eight years at $168 million — and then walked away when the player said it wasn’t enough.
If Teixeira didn’t want to play for the Red Sox at fair market value, the Red Sox were right not to keep jacking up their offer until it was good enough.
Remember how done everyone felt when the Yankees swopped in and got A-Rod on Valentine’s Day in 2004? If memory serves me correctly, the Red Sox and not the Yankees won the World Series that year. Remember how worried everyone was when Brian Cashman stealthly swooped in and got Johnny Damon just like he got Teixeira on Tuesday? If memory serves me correctly, the Yankees haven’t won a playoff series in their three years with Johnny in the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, the Sox won it all in 2007 and came within a three-run homer of getting back to the World Series in ’08.
The Boston Red Sox have worked long and hard to put together a machine of an organization. Much like the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s, the Red Sox are stacked and don’t need to go out and make lavish offseason spendings to compete for championships.
So you have a nucleus that a lot of teams would love — Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Lowell, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Dice-K, Jonathan Papelbon and others. You have Lars Anderson ticketed for 2012, once Lowell’s contract is up, and other young pitchers on the way, such as Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden.
Last year didn’t feel as fun with the big competition coming from Tampa Bay instead of the Yankees. Now the Yankees truly are the evil empire again and it’s going to make the Red Sox that much more determined.
Why is everyone so surprised that the Yankees swooped in here? Since Theo has been GM, he’s the first to admit that the Yankees have won every bidding war. Yes, they won Contreras; Yes, they won A-Rod; Yes, they won Damon; And now they’ve won Teixeira. The Red Sox won Dice-K, but only because it was a highly unique situation in which they were able to win blind date rights and then beat Boras when he had no leverage.
Yet throughout all these bidding losses, the Red Sox have been the better team than the Yankees over the complete body of work since 2003.
Theo Epstein recently said from his hotel suite at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas that the goal is not to “win the offseason”. The goal is to win April-September, and then hopefully October.
It can still happen. The fun will be watching it unfold. The only way the rivalry could have been any more fierce in ’09 is if the Yankees had gotten Manny. But his will more than suffice. I can’t wait to see that first Teixeira at-bat at Fenway. It will be the loudest jeers you’ve heard since Johnny Damon stepped up to the box at Fenway on May 1, 2006. Then, Mr. Teixeira will truly be welcomed to East Coast Baseball.
Happy Holidays to all readers.