The baseball season begins tonight with arguably the best rivalry in sports. With the Red Sox and Yankees both making major changes to their team over the offseason, it's time to take a long glance at what differences the fans will look at this season. With that in mind, here is a look into who made the right moves and who made the wrong moves.
The Red Sox had a very underrated, but impactful offeason. They not only filled holes in their offense, but may have improved their defense as well. The addition of Victor Martinez last season will prove even more important this year as he enters his first full season with the Sox. With Jason Varitek now relegated all season to backup duty, Boston is set behind the plate.
Adding Adrian Beltre to the hot corner allows Kevin Youkilis to play full-time at first giving them two very good defensive players on each side of the diamond. If Beltre can utilize the talent that he's shown before offensively, he'll also give Boston a solid bat in the middle of their lineup. When Mike Lowell returns they'll get another above average defender and a possible mid-season trade piece.
Next to Beltre will be new shortstop Marco Scutaro, who brings his gritty style of play to a team that previously won the World Series with players of the same type in their lineup.
Scutaro is the type of player that you will always hate to go against, but would love to have on your team, because he is the type of player that proves to be a thorn in pitchers' sides with his pesky style of hitting. He could possibly be the most valuable pickup to any team this offseason based on his contract and overall solid play.
The Red Sox also added two outfielders who could play a major role in the bottom of their lineup. Both Mike Cameron and Jeremy Hermida were two additions that didn't get that much recognition, but should have.
Although one year older, Cameron still offers an above average glove in center field, a .270 average, and 18 home run production.
Hermida, if he remains healthy, could prove to be a very inexpensive but valuable pickup. Once considered a possible cornerstone for the Marlins, he's now been relegated to a fourth outfielder role. If he can tap into that potential that he flashed in Florida and stay off the disabled list then he could be the type of player that can contribute to Boston as much more than a bench player.
Acquiring Bill Hall, another player trying to return to a level of productivity he experienced with his former team, gives Boston a versatile player who can play all over the diamond and in the outfield. Even if Hall ends his season with a .260 average off the bench, he'll be one of the best bench players in Major League Baseball.
The most important acquisition for the Red Sox was John Lackey. Lackey gives the Red Sox a No. 2 pitcher for the No. 3 spot in their rotation. More importantly, it gives them flexibility when Daisuke Matsuzaka comes back from the disabled list. Lester, Beckett, and Lackey give them three pitchers that would be an ace on most other teams, while Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield finish it out.
If the Red Sox are still seeking a big bat by midseason, a trade involving Buchholz for Adrian Gonzalez could definitely be something Boston explores thoroughly, giving them their own version of Mark Teixeria to counter the Yankees.
New York Yankees
Although New York has had an active off-season it can be easily argued that their decisions were some of the most questionable in baseball. Star power is great, but unless you have old-fashioned, solid players surrounding those stars, the odds of winning a World Series decrease.
Trading for Curtis Granderson may have gotten the Bombers a younger player in the outfield than Johnny Damon, but they ended up paying much more for a younger but not as complete version of Damon.
Granderson may offer power and quickness, but in center field he is average defensively. His average against lefties last year was disturbing for a player with his talent. If Granderson can hit 30 home runs in Yankee Stadium and improve his lefty hitting he might eventually be worth what the Yankees paid for him.
Placing Brett Gardner in center and Granderson in left would improve the defense considerably and until New York decides to make the switch they will have two average defenders at their respective positions when a swap would make them above average.
More importantly, New York shipped out a boatload of players for Granderson. Phil Coke provided a steady lefty arm all of last season. Yankee fans have to be cringing at the sight of Damaso Marte being the only lefty out of the bullpen this season. He may have done well during the postseason, but true Yankees fans know how quickly he can go back to the Marte that Yankees fans know is still there.
Losing Austin Jackson might also hurt the Bombers if he turns out to be a more complete player than Granderson. Starting in center for the Tigers, Jackson is a five-tool player that could quickly become a fan favorite in Detroit.
Losing Ian Kennedy to Arizona also hurt the Yankees pitching depth greatly, and despite having a bad season this past year, he's shown the talent at a young age to become a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter for the Diamondbacks.
If the Yankees lose either Andy Pettitte or A.J. Burnett to injury some time during the season, which is likely, Yankees fans will get a good sight of Kei Igawa, Sergio Mitre, and a bevy of players who should be nothing more than AAA veterans.
The Yankees biggest mistake might have been the acquisition of Javier Vazquez.
Although Vazquez has had a solid spring, the Yankees have seen what he can do and if anyone in the front office would go back to the tape, they would see he cannot handle New York and will give up more home runs in Yankee Stadium then any other Yankees starter this year.
He may have done well for the Braves this past year, but the National League East is not the American League East and his E.R.A. will probably hover around 5 all season.
If Pettitte or Burnett goes down like history has shown, then Vazquez will likely become New York's No. 3 pitcher. Looking at John Lackey vs Vazquez, anyone would be hard-pressed to pick Vazquez. Considering how World Series teams usually stay healthy and considering that CC Sabathia can't pitch every game in the playoffs, the Yankees might have made a mistake in not going after a more reliable starter.
Lastly, New York added a true Yankee in Nick Johnson, but let a true Yankee go in Hideki Matsui. Johnson was born to be in pinstripes and was clearly a good move by Brian Cashman. With an on-base percentage in the upper echelon of the league, Johnson will give the Yankees a walking machine. The only issue with Johnson will be his health, which has hurt him throughout his post-Yankee career.
If Johnson gets hurt and Matsui plays well in Anaheim, it will look like a really bad move in New York's front office after Matsui was so vital to the Yankees World Series run last year.
The Red Sox had one of the best off-seasons in baseball, while the Yankees made moves that leave a lot of question marks on a team trying to replicate last year's final result. If New York is smart they'll be ready to make a trade during the season to bolster their rotation when injuries strike. If they're smarter they'll look at their bullpen and realize that they need another lefty reliever to replace Phil Coke's production from last year.
If Boston somehow pulls off a trade for Adrian Gonzalez, the Yankees advantage on offense over Boston goes away and the race for the first spot in the A.L. East becomes much more competitive. Until then, however, the more talented Yankees offense will have to compete with the more talented Boston rotation.