The Boston Red Sox Have Become The New York Yankees

December 15, 2009 – 2:31 am by Ryan Phillips


On Monday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox signed John Lackey to a five-year deal reportedly worth more than the $82.5 million A.J. Burnett got from the New York Yankees last winter. While Lackey is a fine pitcher and a quality guy, the Red Sox made a very questionable move in inking a 31-year-old starter to an expensive five-year contract when they already have Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka signed to expensive deals. While Beckett could leave after the 2010 season and Lackey could be looked at as insurance against that possibility, it’s still a risky move.

Meanwhile, the Lackey deal effectively puts the Sox out of the race for Jason Bay, a guy who has a huge bat and his willing to do the little things to help the team win. Sure getting Bay back isn’t imperative for the Sox, but losing him leaves a big hole they don’t have an immediate answer for. After all, he did lead Boston with 36 home runs and 119 RBI in 2009.

The moves the Red Sox have made since 2006 are starting to remind me of some of the things the New York Yankees did during their championship drought earlier in the decade.

-The Sox inked a big-ticket foreign pitcher with no idea if he’d be able to hold up for several years in Matsuzaka. After a nice sophomore year, Matsuzaka was awful in 2009. He battled injuries and stumbled to a 4-6 record with a 5.76 ERA. Which sounds a lot like what the Yankees did with Jose Contreras.

-The Sox signed J.D. Drew to a ridiculous five-year, $70 million contract at the beginning of the 2007 season. While they did win a World Series with Drew on the roster, they’re now stuck with a 34-year-old guy who has averaged just 18 home runs and 65 RBI over the past three seasons while hitting .276. Awesome. That’s not unlike the Yankees move to sign a 32-year-old Johnny Damon in 2006. Damon has actually done better in his four years in New York, averaging 19 home runs and 74 RBI while hitting .285.

-The Lackey deal is interesting because the guy started just 24 games in 2008 and 27 in 2009. His ERA was higher in 2008 (3.75) and 2009 (3.83) than it was in the previous three seasons. After going 19-9 in 2007, Lackey went 12-5 in 2008 and 11-8 in 2009. While still capable of tossing a gem any time out, at 31 he’s clearly not going to get any better. The Yankees signed a 32-year-old Mike Mussina to a big deal in 2002, and over the next seven years he averaged a 15-9 record with a 3.95 ERA. Solid, but not spectacular. Oh, and the Yankees never won a World Series with Mussina on the roster.

-The Sox made a nice move picking up Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline in 2009. The problem is, Boston gave up a whole lot of young talent to acquire the All-Star catcher. On top of that, Martinez has been pretty adamant that he wants to test the free agent waters after the 2010 season. In 2oo3, the Yankees sent Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate to the Expos for Javier Vasquez. Vasquez spent one average year in New York before being shipped to Arizona as part of a package for Randy Johnson.

-Despite having won a World Series with Orlando Cabrera at short, the Red Sox allowed him to leave for Anaheim before the 2005 season. Boston then signed Edgar Renteria to a four-year, $40 million deal. Renteria endured his worst season to that point of his career and was dispatched after the season. That reminds us of the Yankees trading for Kevin Brown. In two years in the Bronx Brown struggled mightily, posting a 14-13 record and a 4.95 ERA before retiring.

-This offseason, the Red Sox have parted ways with guys like Bay, Mike Lowell and Alex Gonzalez, who were key components to the team. The Yankees also let a few key players get away; Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez come to mind.

None of this is a particularly big deal, it’s just funny because Red Sox fans have always ripped on how the Yankees just bought players and didn’t win by building a team. Well, now that the Sox payroll will be at least $138 million on opening day (and that’s if they don’t sign another player this offseason, which is impossible) and president Larry Lucchino has said the payroll will definitely increase for 2010.

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  1. 11 Responses to “The Boston Red Sox Have Become The New York Yankees”

  2. When I saw the title I was getting ready to give you shit over this. “You’re three years late on giving the Sox shit for spending like the Yankees and acting like an underdog.” But nice work taking it a step further and comparing the moves. That’s pretty scary to look at as a Sox fan, not that I had a whole lot of hope going into next year anyways. This would have been a nice year to take a deliberate step back, cut payroll, develop the farm teams and get ready for 2011.

    By Pablo on Dec 15, 2009

  3. As a fan of a small market team (Twins), I am tired of seeing the same 7 clubs (Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers) sign all of the big name players every year.

    By RFS on Dec 15, 2009

  4. before writing a column about the sox moves, you should do a little more research, V-Mart was had for basically one decent young reliever, which in my book is a steal. last i checke the sox hadn’t inked half a billion dollars in players in one off season. I’m not saying the sox don’t spend money, but take a look at the payrolls around the league, the Yankees are out in front by about 70 million on an average year if not double that. comparing Lackey to Contreras? Lackey has won in the AL East, Contreras was an NL guy (AKA farm league) not to bright of a move. Drew ranks as a top 5 outfielder every year, his obp is among the best in the league, that’s why they got him. The redsox have been trying to find a shortstop and wasted a lot of money doing so, it’s just about the only thing you can criticize them for with the exception of the matsuzaka contract which the yankees tried to sign him up to as well. you can’t criticize what you have a limited knowledge of. follow the team on a regular basis and evaluate the team without bias like a reporter should. Writing an article as a hater of a big market team makes you look like a first rate hack.

    By Jay on Dec 15, 2009

  5. Jay,
    Um, I actually didn’t compare Lackey to Contreras, I compared him to Mussina. I compared Matsuzaka to Contreras. And how was Contreras an NL guy? He came from Cuba to the Yankees. Does Cuba have a team in the NL?

    And sure, Drew had nice OPS numbers, but anyone who actually watched him play knew he wasn’t as good as those inflated numbers. Have you seen his stats since he’s been in Boston? I put them in there. Did you even read the post?

    Oh and I don’t hate big market teams. I hate big market teams who throw money away.

    By Phillips on Dec 15, 2009

  6. I am a Yankees fan. But I must say I do not agree. Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira were all signed in one off-season. Lackey has been the only one signed thus far by Boston. For the Sox to be like the Yanks in this respect, they’d have to sign Lackey, sign Bay or Holliday, and then dole out $150 million for another starter.

    All that being said, I agree Boston fans have no right to say the Yanks spend too much money. Boston has the second highest payroll in the game…

    By Dan on Dec 15, 2009

  7. Dan, did you even read the payroll numbers for last year. If you did, you would see that the Sox were in 4th behind the Yankees, Mets, and Cubs. 70 million behind the Yankees on a average year still makes the investment Vs. wins in the last decade look pretty good. Until someone is within at least 25 million of the Yankees, i think people should just quit waisting time about who is spending alot of money in baseball. Especially the author of this article. That being said I admire the Yankee ownership for going all out to win, and not just padding the corporate bottom line.

    By Ralph on Dec 15, 2009

  8. wow…great rationalization…can i smoke what you’re smoking?

    By vor on Dec 15, 2009

  9. I am a Yankees fan too. and I must say I do not agree too.Meanwhile, the Lackey deal effectively puts the Sox out of the race for Jason Bay, a guy who has a huge bat and his willing to do the little things to help the team win.
    its so bad…
    anyway,merry christmas´╝ü

    By NFL draft on Dec 17, 2009

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