What the Teixeira deal means to the Yanks, Red Sox and baseball
The Yankees may have overpaid for Mark Teixeira, but they denied the Red Sox
The addition of a new ballpark means the Yanks' pockets will get even deeper
On paper, the Yankees appear capable of winning 95 to 100 games in 2009
SI.com caught up with Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Tom Verducci to weigh in on the Yankees' signing of Mark Teixeira:
How does Mark Teixeira fit in with the Yankees?
He's a great fit for the Yankees. I really thought before they signed him that their offense was short last year, having gone from almost 1,000 runs to fewer than 800, and they added a big bat in the prime of his career. He's a switch-hitter, he's an upgrade defensively. They became the favorite in the AL already if they weren't already. I think they needed a bat, and the other side to that is they kept him away from the Red Sox, which further improved their chances in the division.
Their offense last year was just north of mediocre, and they should be getting the prime years of his career.
Did the Yankees overpay?
You can make an argument that the Yankees overpaid a bit to get him. He's certainly not in the A-Rod/Albert Pujols category in terms of the very best hitters in the game but he is in the next tier, and you have to like the fact that he's durable and he is a switch-hitter. If they did overpay they didn't do it by a lot.
How does this affect the Red Sox and where do they go from here?
They're OK depending on the health of Mike Lowell and how David Ortiz bounces back from the wrist injury. They don't have to go panic into another move. It probably makes them the favorites for Matt Holliday at the end of 2009. Yankees-haters should understand that they'll have Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui coming off the books, so if they think the Yankees have nothing left in the cookie jar, think again. People forget that they spent $372 million last year on A-Rod and Jorge Posada, so that's $796 million in two seasons.
Is there a chance these signings could limit the Yankees down the road?
For the people who are thinking that there's a bill that will come due in three, four, five years, they're ignoring the fact that the only thing more dangerous than the Yankees with money is the Yankees with money in a new ballpark. They were way out in front of the pack without the benefit of a new ballpark, which has been the cash cow of the major leagues for the last 15 years. Now they have a new ballpark, so if people are waiting for the Yankees to be hamstrung financially down the road, that's not going to happen. They're going against the tide in baseball in terms of getting players in the prime of their career and allowing roster flexibility. They can lock up guys until their mid 30s and not worry because the money that keeps coming in covers up those problems. They're more dangerous than ever.
How might the economy affect the Yankees?
There's a slight chance the Yankees might be affected some by the economy but I think it's business as usual for them going forward. I think they have enough to project out for the next three or four years to believe that revenue streams will continue. They are built to run at peak operational capacity, and that means four million fans, great ratings on their regional television station [YES] and going to the playoffs, which is what drives ticket sales. They're proving that there is no retrenching. They're like a factory that runs at 24/7.
Can anyone beat them in 2009?
There's one thing that would happen that would make them completely unbeatable and that would be if they ever got their act together with player development. If they could supplement their ability to develop players with their ability to buy players no one could touch them. They got Teixeira because they needed position players and part of the reason they got CC Sabathia is that in New York you can't wait more than one year to find out if guys like Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are answers. That would be really scary for the rest of baseball. They've tried to use their resources on the amateur market as well in terms of giving huge bonuses to guys like Andrew Brackman, who head right for surgery. Those risks haven't really paid off, even on the international market. Everybody misses; no one's really solved the eternal mystery of being able to project amateur players into being stars.
We've seen the Yankees spend big for years, yet they haven't won a World Series since 2000. Will this be any different?
Certainly when you look back on 2000 and 2001, when they got the best pitcher available in Mike Mussina one year and the best hitter available the next in Jason Giambi and they didn't translate into championships, you would think the Yankees learned some lessons about staying away from older players, injury risks and guys who weren't thick-skinned enough to succeed in New York. Certainly I think Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Teixeira all fit the profiles of guys who should succeed in New York. Burnett is a bit of an injury-risk obviously. They may or may not get burned on that. Otherwise, I think you're talking about two very smart buys, and I don't see it being analogous to the acquisitions of Kevin Brown or Carl Pavano or players like that.
The road to a title always seems to go through the AL East. Do you expect that to be the case again in 2009?
The AL East is the one division where you start out and you have to win 95 games to go to the playoffs. It's the only one with the bar set so high and that's still true, whether it's the Yankees, the Red Sox or the Rays -- someone is going to go about 95 wins in that division. It also deflates teams like the Orioles and the Blue Jays. In other divisions you hope for that one year where things come together and you win 90 games and compete for the playoffs. The Blue Jays and the Orioles can't fit themselves into any scenario where they are contenders.