Wednesday, January 3, 2007

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A reluctant tip of the cap to Brian Cashman

Baseball fans who follow the Hot Stove League may be aware that the Red Sox have made some aggressive moves in a bid to improve their performance from the 2006 season.

[Yeah, that'll show the Yankees!!--ed.] Er..... perhaps not. I must duly link and quote this Seth Mnookin post from last week here:

Suddenly, the Yankees are shedding payroll like they’re the Marlins, and [Yankees GM] Brian Cashman looks determined to pick up young prospects and jettison the senior citizens collecting outrageous paychecks.

This doesn’t mean the Red Sox and the Yankees will have anywhere near equal payrolls, but it does seem to indicate that Steinbrenner (and his Tampa-based suckups) are no longer making baseball-related decisions. If that’s true, it’s bad news for Boston (and everyone else). A senior member of the team’s baseball ops staff told me last year that the only reason the Sox had a fighting chance against a team with $80 million more in payroll was because New York made such stupefyingly idiotic moves. If that’s not going to be the case anymore, it means the Yankees and the Sox are going to be operating more and more on the same plane…not because, as some would have you believe, the Red Sox have become the Evil Empire II but because the Yankees are starting to act (and yes, it hurts to say this) intelligently.

Gulp. Two thousand and seven, here we come…

It gets worse, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale:
The Arizona Diamondbacks expect to complete a deal with the New York Yankees by the end of the week to bring back pitcher Randy Johnson, a high-ranking Diamondbacks official familiar with the negotiations told USA TODAY.

The clubs have agreed on the package of players the Diamondbacks will send to the Yankees, according to a club official from each team — two minor league pitchers and a major league reliever.

The deal has not been completed because of money issues, including how much the Yankees will pay toward Johnson's $16 million contract in 2007.

Hat tip to David Pinto, who also makes the Marlins comparison:
[T]he Yankees are just tired of old pitchers trying to stay ahead of a great offense. Depending on the pitchers in this deal, the Yankees will end up picking up quality pitching prospects like the Marlins did last year while still remaining a playoff contender.
I can take some comfort that ESPN's Keith Law thinks the Red Sox had a good offseason as well, and that Boston got the better Japanese import. I can also take some comfort in the fact that, well, the season hasn't started yet, so this is all just so much idle chat. As Peter Gammons notes on his ESPN blog:
What we do know about 2007 is that we don't know much. Hit the rewind button back a year, and tell us you thought the opening matchup of the World Series would pit Anthony Reyes against Justin Verlander, and that the Series would be closed by Adam Wainwright. Or that the Marlins would win one less game than the Braves, or that Chien-Ming Wang would lead the majors in wins, Aaron Harang would lead the National League in wins and strikeouts, Barry Zito would be worth $126 million to the Giants and Daisuke Matsuzaka would be worth $103 million to the Red Sox, and that Jason Marquis could have a 6.02 ERA, lead the NL in losses, runs allowed and gopher balls and be worth $7 million a year to the Cubs.

The game is acted out by humans, not computer programs.

But I can't shake the feeling that over the past six months, Cashman has done as good a job, if not better, than Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. And unlike the last time I compared the two franchises, the Yankees farm system doesn't look so barren now.

Developing.... in a worrisome way.

UPDATE:'s Jon Heyman thinks the Red Sox improved themselves more than the Yankees this offseason, but if Heyman's numbers turn out to be correct, it's not enough for them to catch the Yankees.

Also, given the cost of pitching this offseason, I do like this move by Theo Epstein.

posted by Dan on 01.03.07 at 11:01 AM


I'm a Yankees fan. Two words to sooth your worries: Alex Rodriquez. You're home free for another 4 years!

posted by: peter on 01.03.07 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

You seem to be laboring under a conceptual error, that improvement of the Red Sox vis a vis the Yankees is somehow to be desired.

Please correct this mistake in future posts.

Thank you.

posted by: John on 01.03.07 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

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