The Yankees dumped $180 million and eight years in Mark Teixeira's lap, and it was an offer he couldn't refuse.
I think it's safe to say the Yanks have reloaded this off-season. They signed C.C. Sabathia to a $161 million, seven-year contract; they signed A.J. Burnett to five years for $82.5 million. And now Teixeira, plus $5 million thrown at Chien-Ming Wang for good measure. Their luxury tax alone on this payroll is reported to be $29.6 million--and there's still the possibility they could sign Manny Ramirez.
As a Red Sox fan, at least objectively speaking, none of this is great news. We couldn't have expected the Yanks to take their miserable 2008 results lying down, of course, but to see them get an actual pair of relatively young starting pitchers--a pair of aces?--is enough to make me gulp. With the Juice Man gone, the Yankees are exponentially better at first, especially on defense, as they also have Nick Swisher to just sort of kick around as a utility player. I also don't want to think about that lineup. A Yanks-fan friend who called me to gloat actually got me started in a discussion about where you'd hit Teixeira, behind or in front of A-Rod, before I finally caught myself and said, "Wait, why the fuck am I even talking about this with you?"
Actually, of all of them, AJ Burnett is the one who scares me the most, based on how he's matched up with the Red Sox in the past. Invoking the usual 'as long as he stays healthy' disclaimer, Burnett has been difficult if not impossible to solve for the Sox when I've seen him face them. Meanwhile, the Sox solved C.C. Sabathia twice back to back in the ALCS in the year he won the Cy Young--that had to have been his best shot, and so I at least feel like it's a fair fight there. And they also beat Teixeira and the formidable Vladimir Guerrerro with the Angels. Burnett, on the other hand...? I'd rather face Roy Halladay than Burnett. Then again, there is that chance he could end up, as the same Yanks fan referenced above put it, "being Jaret Pavano."
Another couple of silver linings for Sox fans: with this kind of payroll, the old "Yankees and Red Sox are the same now" chestnut might have some of its thunder stolen. But the biggest one of all is that the Yankees have once again thrown a ton of money at the problem through some probably unwisely long contracts to procure free agents--the same pattern that put them in this mess in the first place. Recall it was not their more high-priced assemblages of de facto All-Stars that has won the most rings most recently--the sainted Derek Jeter, still the face of the Yankees franchise, is a homegrown kid. As was Pettitte. Mariano Rivera also made his debut with the Yankees (as a non-drafted free agent), as did Jorge Posada.
Meanwhile, we've seen a few Great Hopes signed as free agents to restore glory to the pinstripes this decade. A-Rod himself, by the free-agent instant-improvement logic, should've been more than enough to lead them to the promised land. Randy Johnson, remember him? And who could forget the return of Pettitte and Clemens?
I know there will be some who call this sour grapes, but really. Call me when the Yankees produce a Dustin Pedroia or an Evan Longoria (and please don't give me any of that crap about Joba equalling Josh Beckett). That's when I'll really be shaking in my boots.