The 2013 season belonged to the Boston Red Sox. A busy winter for general manager Ben Cherington included the additions of valuable free agents like Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, while retaining commodities such as David Ortiz. The team unexpectedly came together, rallying behind the “Boston Strong” theme and thumping the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. Now, the rival New York Yankees are trying to make 2014 their year.
The Yankees have been writing checks all offseason in an attempt to rebuild an aging lineup and lackluster rotation. New York began their holiday shopping by signing catcher Brian McCann to fill a void behind the plate that has been a rotating door of inconsistency since Jorge Posada’s time.
The team also signed free agent Carlos Beltran to solve a hole in right field. The veteran outfielder is still seeking his first World Series ring after he and St. Louis fell short to Boston this past year.
The Yankees reignited the classic rivalry between Boston and New York when Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to sign with them as well. Ellsbury will join the short list of players to have spent time with both teams, as his departure is reminiscent of Johnny Damon’s, as an iconic center fielder changing sides.
The Yankees capped off their spending spree by signing Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka. The star pitcher is believed to project as a second or third starter in a major league rotation, which is crucial for a Yankees team that watched CC Sabathia’s performance drop significantly last year.
The Yankees have also had their fair share of negative storylines. Star slugger Robinson Cano left town in free agency to join the Seattle Mariners, signing the third largest contract in baseball history (10-years, $240 million). New York will use cheap options at second base this season, hoping for a revival in Brian Roberts with Kelly Johnson for insurance.
The Yankees also saw Alex Rodriguez’s suspension reduced to 162 games, which will sideline him for the entire 2014 season. The suspension creates a hole for New York at third base, but it also saved them nearly $30 million in contractual obligations.
The team that the Yankees will put on the field is stronger than the one they used in 2013. However, despite missing the playoffs last year, New York finished with 86 wins in what was truly an overachieving season for a crippled lineup and pitching staff without an ace.
It’s hard to say how their new roster will perform together, as the majority of history shows that spending money doesn’t always correlate with earning victories. However, the Yankees did spend on Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira prior to the 2009 season when they won the World Series.
On paper, the Red Sox still look at least as good as New York. But the chemistry that has evolved with the soon-to-be shaved squad sets them apart.
The Red Sox are a stronger team than the Yankees because of a bond they’ve shared since last spring training as underdogs to World Series champions in October. While it is possible that New York could own the 2014 season with their flashy new signings, I’d put my money on the Red Sox to send the Bronx to another early winter.