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The Yankees stole Mark Teixeira right out from underneath the Red Sox, giving him $1.5 million more per year over the eight years than the Sox offered, $180 million against $168 million. This is the third time Teixeira has gotten away as the Red Sox originally drafted him, but could not come to terms and then seemed like bidders at the deadline last season. Teixeira seemed to indicate that for fairly even money, he would eschew the chance to play near home, with the Orioles or Nationals, to play for a consistent winner. Couple that with the Yankees pulling their offer a couple weeks ago seemed to make the Red Sox the favorite. However, with the Yankees clearing payroll by losing players like Bobby Abreu, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte (so far), Jason Giambi, and Carl Pavano, they freed up the money to make last week’s acquisitions of CC Sabathia and A. J. Burnett and made a last minute offer for Tex.
The Yankees seem to have given up on building from within, considering the stints that Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy had for instance, and are back to buying the best players. The latest acquisition will give them the four highest paid players: Teixeira, Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter. Red Sox Nation is probably asking itself how they can compete with this organization as they are patching up every major hole they had while the Red Sox swing and miss on the big opportunity they had.
First, recall that the Yankees had a lot more work to do this offseason after missing the playoffs last season after watching division rivals Tampa Bay and Boston duke it out in the Championship Series. Second, the Red Sox still have just as many top tier arms in their starting rotation than the Yankess with Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jon Lester. The failure to sign Teixeira means that the Red Sox will presumably play with basically the same lineup that finished last season, pending the Jason Varitek situation. Kevin Youkilis, MVP Dustin Pedroia, Jed Lowrie/Alex Cora/Julio Lugo, and Mike Lowell man the infield while J. D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jason Bay patrol the outfield with David Ortiz in the mix at designated hitter. Tex would have forced the likely move of Lowell to another team.
Of course, while the lineup looks good, the question is health. How is Drew’s back? How is Lowell’s hip? How is Papi’s wrist? The Red Sox will be a fine, well-rounded team if these three play at their capability, however 2009 will be a challenge should at least one suffer some lingering effects. This is the biggest hit in not getting Teixeira: the Red Sox would have had a young and healthy first baseman at the expense of an older, more injury prone player (likely Lowell). The sting is doubly painful as he will be taking his cuts against the Sox 19 times per season for the next eight.
What is Scott Boras’ issue with the Red Sox? Did they do something to him or do the Red Sox just not give in to him enough? When Johnny Damon left, there were rumors he told the Yankees that the Red Sox had offered Damon five years, when in fact it was only four. The Yanks caved and Boras did not offer the Red Sox the chance to match. Then, there was the fiasco last season with Manny Ramirez and now getting just $12 million more from the Yankees. Maybe the Red Sox just would not push to $180 million, but Boras seems to have something against the club. Another Boras client is Jason Varitek, so if you are a fan of his, you might have to watch him play elsewhere next season.