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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pinch hitting: Sox And Pinstripes

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Jan 22, 2009 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

January is traditionally a slow month for baseball news. So for the second year in a row, we will showcase other blogs with a series of pinch hitters.

Next up is John from Sox and Pinstripes.

John represents the pinstripes portion of the Sox and Pinstripes blog as a regular contributor from his current home in San Francisco. His first game was seeing Ron Guidry strike out 18 and he was in the stands on Oakland when Derek Jeter made his famous flip to Jorge Posada. John is married to a Red Sox fan but says good parenting prevailed and his son’s favorite player is Jeter.

Here’s his post:

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It wasn’t exactly on a where-were-you-when-JFK-got-shot level. But I clearly remember when I first read that the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira. I almost coughed up my breakfast, and the first person who popped into my head was Red Sox exec Larry Lucchino. My immediate thought was, he dubbed the Yanks the “Evil Empire” over a measly little signing of Jose Contreras?? If only he had known, if only he had kept his powder dry for this offseason.

With that said, perception and reality don’t always synch up. For example, before CC Sabathia and Teixeira, 17 players had signed contracts of more than $100 million. The only one of those where the Yankees lured a player from another team was Jason Giambi in 2001.

Still, did the Yanks panic and scrap Brian Cashman’s youth plan in favor of a return to Steinbrennarian (as John Sterling would say) excess?

Not at all. The four major additions this winter (including Nick Swisher) are ages 28, 28, 28 and 32. This is not Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson revisited. In fact, when Sabathia’s deal expires, he will only be as old as Derek Lowe is right now.

These moves also give Cashman the buffer to use his kids more. With Teixeira, you can let Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera battle. With Sabathia and Burnett, you can give Phil Hughes a shot at the fifth slot.

Did the Yankees need Teixeira? No, but they were vulnerable this year, and really would have needed him next year when two more important bats (Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui) came off the books.

The Yankees made the one move they did need to make: Sabathia. And they hit the bonus round with Teixeira, an addition that helps this year, fills an urgent need next year and, best of all, was also the one move that the rival Red Sox really did need to make.

Now the Sox face a fading core of injury-prone vets (David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Jason Varikek) with a hugely disappointing set of free agent options next winter. And with their top prize gone, they’ve ended up getting even older this winter with Takashi Saito (39) and John Smoltz (41).

Suddenly, in a single winter, the Yanks are younger and more athletic, and the Sox are older, more injury-prone, more vulnerable. These moves take the pressure off, not only for this season but the next several seasons, while the Sox risk being left without a chair when the free agent music stops.

We’ve heard all the gripes, and reminders that you can’t buy titles. True enough. We all know how the last Yankee major coup over the Sox, Alex Rodriguez, has worked out so far. But when you look at what historically works best for the Yanks, it isn’t just about money — that’s a constant — it’s about smart use of money. Players in their primes, brought in at positions of need, surrounded by home grown talent.

Check, check and check.

The games are still to come, but the Yanks just had a very good winter, the Sox a very rough one.

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Thanks, John. Coming tomorrow: Tom from Bronx Block.

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