The Yankees, Rays and Red Sox: Three Different Offseason Strategies

Eliot PodgorskyContributor IJanuary 11, 2009

This offseason we've seen the three top American League East teams use three uniquely different strategies regarding their teams and the free agent market.

The New York Yankees went big signing three of the top free agents for a total of $423.5 million. They also took a flier on Nick Swisher and will pay him $21 million the next three years if they don't trade him.

The Tampa Bay Rays so far have only made one major addition, Pat Burrell to a two-year $16 million dollar contract. Burrell was signed to DH and replaces the departing Cliff Floyd.

They also added outfielder Matt Joyce whom they acquired for Edwin Jackson. While Burrell is certainly a good player and in my opinion could put of some good numbers with the Rays has them standing pat though one can hardly blame them after making it to the World Series last year.

The Boston Red Sox struck out on Mark Teixiera, losing him to the Yankees but they have hardly been losers in the free agent market. The Red Sox have so far gone low risk-high reward with all their signees.

They have signed Takashi Saito, Brad Penny, Rocco Baldelli and John Smoltz for a total of a guaranteed $14.75 million and resigned Mark Kotsay to a one-year $1.5 million dollar contract. Saito, Penny, Baldelli and Smoltz's contracts have incentive clauses that could allow them to double their money.

These strategies have me thinking which is better, go big or go home, stick with what works, or go low risk high reward.

As a Yankee fan I'm really excited about the Yankee game plan and I believe it will work but what if it doesn't? What if C.C. never warms up to New York? What if Burnett get's injured? What if Teixiera is another Giambi?

While all three things could happen I believe that Teixiera and C.C. will do fine and Burnett will give us three good years. In the end I think that these contracts will be worth it and are not only something that the Yankees should of done, it's something they had to do.

The addition of Sabathia and Burnett give the Yankees a formidable rotation especially if Joba Chamberlain continues his growth and let's say Phil Hughes begins to grow in the 5th spot in the rotation. Let's not forget that before he got injured last year Chien-Ming Wang had won 19 games in back to back years.

The addition of Teixiera gives the Yankees the best corner combo in the league and if Cano rebounds the infield could be one of the best in the league. In my opinion the Yankees additions will assure they do not miss the playoffs again and might lead to another parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

While you can't fault the Rays for basically staying put it might not be the best decision with Yankees and Red Sox improving so much. That said with David Price in the rotation for a full year and guys like Evan Longoria improving the Rays may not need anyone to rise to the top of the AL East again in the 2009 season.

The Red Sox strategy is the most intriguing and to me worrisome for the Yankees and Rays. All the players they added where and still could be All-Star talents. A rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Smoltz, Penny and Lester or possibly Buchholz could compete with any staff and a bullpen of Papelbon, Delcarmen, Okajima and Saito could be phenomenal. Rocco Baldelli is the 4th outfielder but if he can treat his channelopathy effectively he could be way above average.

While the rotation and bullpen could be great this is banking on these players returning to form at least a little bit. Smoltz is 41, Saito is 39 and both are injury risks. There are questions about Penny's arm strength and health and who's knows what could happen to Baldelli's condition.

The Red Sox do have young arms that could step in if one of the pitchers go down and they aren't relying to much on Baldelli so that's good. But if the worst happens and none of these players recover and pan out the Sox could be in sorry shape.


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