Apparently, to two-time All-Star selection Mark Teixeira, the New York Yankees, with the highest payroll and the best offense in the league, are now underdogs.
"I think we relish the underdog role,” Teixeira said. “I love it. I love the fact that people say Boston’s the best team in the league right now. They had a great offseason, they have a great team. If someone picks us second or third in the division, I think we’re going to relish that role. No one’s going to feel sorry for the Yankees."
Now, don't get me wrong, I love Tex. He's a great player and was much needed after seeing Jason Giambi's defense. But really, underdogs? Let's take a quick look at the Yankees and Red Sox from each major section of any baseball team.
While the Red Sox added a great power guy in Adrian Gonzalez, and a top-three speedster in Carl Crawford, it wasn't a large of enough push to overcome the Yankees power-wise. If you look down the lineup, think about who will produce more. Derek Jeter will hit better than Marco Scutaro, Robinson Cano over Dustin Pedroia, Alex Rodriguez over Kevin Youkilis, Russell Martin over Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Curtis Granderson over Jacoby Ellsbury and Nick Swisher over J.D. Drew.
The only spot where you could say the Red Sox are better offensively is Carl Crawford over Brett Gardner (it's actually closer than you think) and Adrian Gonzalez over Mark Teixeira.
With the acquisition of Rafael Soriano, who had the most saves in Major League Baseball last season, and the highly underrated Pedro Feliciano, the Yankees now have arguably the best bullpen in baseball, and only San Diego offers competition for that title. Though the Red Sox added a good piece in Bobby Jenks, he is set to fight Jonathan Papelbon for the closer role, an example as to how the mighty have fallen.
Though the Red Sox do in fact have a better starting rotation, it isn't because they have one filled with superstars and the Yankees don't. It's more so because of the quality as well as quantity, whereas the Yankees are depleted in both (unless you count all the minor-league signings to pan out).
Look at it this way, the Yankees have a better ace in CC Sabathia against Jon Lester, and you could make a case that Phil Hughes is better than Clay Buchholz/Josh Beckett, but after that, it's all Red Sox.
A.J. Burnett is a disaster and John Lackey is more consistent. Ivan Nova, though I think he's better than people make him out to be, is still just a rookie, and the Yankees don't even have a fifth starter set in place.
All in all, contrary to some overly optimistic Boston reporters (who say the Red Sox will win the World Series every year), the Yankees are not underdogs. They just aren't. The Athletics? Sure, they're underdogs. But the New York Yankees? No.