Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Marky-Mark and the Well-Paid Bunch

"%&$#* the Yankees!!!"

"Screw Steinbrenner and all his money!!!"

Sound familiar?

The same curses rampant in New England households yesterday were just as popular back in 2004 when Alex Rodriguez was introduced as a Yankee. We were pissed. I'm just as pissed about the Mark Teixeira deal. I can't wait to boo him next year and buy a clever T-Shirt degrading him because it's my duty as a fan.

My fan-hood aside, after some reflection, I've realized that our boys got beat at a game the Yankees are much better at. This is what they do: outbid teams. Any Red Sox fan who didn't think this could happen had their head in the sand...err ice I mean.

OK. I agree with you. Teixeira signing with the Yankees was worst-case scenario. I was not happy upon hearing about the deal and bemoaned the fact that this was a major opportunity lost. At the same time, if you know baseball and how the Bronx Bombers operate then this wasn't necessarily the most surprising news.

Who thought he wasn't this hired gun who would take the biggest deal put in front of him? He had no allegiances to the Red Sox and, for good reason, had the show-me-the-money mindset.

Now that the player we were all drooling over for the past month or so is in pin stripes it's time to face the facts, people. The Yankees are the most talented team in the American League as of right now and, on paper, will continue to be for the next 3 or so years. Let's also give credit where credit is due. They had a plan to reload, even if the way they did it was in excess.

This is the first time since they have had top-flight pitchers in their primes since the late '90s. Their rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes is most likely the deepest in baseball. Burnett is the only one who would scare me as a New York fan. He has yet to prove he can win a meaningful game and has a laundry list of injuries. Not hamstring injuries but elbow injuries that could flush the Yanks' investment down the drain. For the record, I'm not saying this because I don't like the Yankees (which is true, of course) but because the Marlins are my second-favorite team and they won a World Series without him in 2003. Not a coincidence.

They've had formerly great pitchers who hadn't been worth their salaries in years such as Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina (until last year) and Jaret Wright. Oops. Just kidding. Jaret Wright never really had a prime, did he?

My point is that not only are the Yankees spending an egregious amount of cash but they are spending it on players who can actually get them to the World Series on a consistent basis. Teixeira is a far better signing than Jason Giambi was after the 2001 season. As I've said before, he has no flaws and will be a great fit anywhere he goes. It was evident a guy like Giambi was a DH in waiting and even back then there were whispers of steroids.

There is another aspect of these signings to think about. I would compare their 2008 off season to the Celtics' of 2007. They are "going for it" and have about a 3 to 4 year window to do so. The difference is the Celtics have the likes of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce signed only for the duration of that championship window. The Yankees are on the books for CC Sabathia and Teixeira for long after that.

Obviously I'd be far more concerned about Sabathia down the road than Teixeira due to his penchant for staying at the dinner table too long but Teixeira won't have the same type of value as a 33-year-old. He is obviously a great player but I think he'll be a 25-homerun, 100 RBI type player by then. The deal is basically what the Braves did with Chipper Jones, who evolved into that kind of player, on steroids. Even as a Sox fan I know the latter half of the deal would've been too much money for a great-turned-good player.

The Yankees did pretty much everything right in terms of personnel this off season. You, nor I, should be complaining about their deep pockets. Notice I haven't conceded the East to the Yanks yet, just that they are the most talented team in the division. The Devil Rays proved last year that the amount of cash spent doesn't always translate to a deep playoff run. The Bombers have spent money in this manner before but on the wrong guys. It seems as though this time they've gotten it right.

I'll be checking back later with a Celtics-Lakers preview.

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