|Yankees Offseason Moves Trump Red Sox||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on February 10, 2012
Heading into spring training 2011, an ALCS matchup between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox seemed like a sure thing. The same was true deep into the regular season.
However, an epic Red Sox September collapse and an early playoff exit from the Yankees had both teams on the golf course rather than competing for the pennant.
With the markets these teams play in, losing is unacceptable. The Yankees have made some key moves this offseason to ensure a return to greatness, but the Red Sox haven't.
The team's main goal this offseason was to solidify the starting pitching staff. There's no doubt that the Yankees can hit, with Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson leading the charge.
But other than C.C. Sabathia, last year's staff was full of question marks. Ivan Nova was a pleasant surprise during the regular season, but he struggled in the Yankees' ALDS Game 5 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
The Yankees made a splash when they sent hitting prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for young righty Michael Pineda. The same night, the team signed free agent hurler Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal.
Not only did the Yankees address their main offseason need, but they also did so with two stud pitchers. The sky is the limit for Pineda, especially with the run support he'll get from the lineup, and Kuroda has been a consistent starter the past four seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Given the Yankees' offseason moves, it seemed inevitable that the Red Sox would respond by making a big move. Following the collapse, Boston revamped its front office, with Ben Cherington taking over as general manager and Bobby Valentine being appointed as manager.
The Red Sox were rumored to be after a front-line starting pitcher, since the team will be without Daisuke Matsuzaka for half the season and John Lackey for the entire season, both as a result of Tommy John surgery.
However, it seems all the good available starters have signed elsewhere. Boston brought in Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla and Carlos Silva on minor league deals to compete for a starting gig, but the final two spots will likely go to Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves.
Bard and Aceves were strong relievers last season for the Sox, so the team brought in Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon as replacements.
Other than those positions, the core of the Red Sox lineup will be basically the same, though the team will be without Carl Crawford due to a wrist injury for the beginning of the season.
On paper, the Red Sox still look like a championship caliber team; now it's time to go out there and play like they're supposed to play.
Like every year, expect the Red Sox and Yankees to be at each other's throats all season. But this year, Boston should have an extra incentive to avenge one of the worst September collapses in MLB history. It may not have made enough moves, though, to be a factor.