The Teixeira signing capped an unbelievable off-season spending spree for the Yankees. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira were 3 of the top 4 free agents on the market (Manny Ramirez being the other). When all was said and done, the Yankees had committed 20 years and $423.5M to the three players.
Predictably, and perhaps somewhat deservedly, the Yankees took a lot of heat in the media and from the other clubs for spending what amounts to roughly the gross domestic product of the entirety of sub-Saharan Africa, and doing so in the midst of the country's worst economic crisis in more than seventy years. However, the Yankees operated within the context of the rules and were essentially leveraging the significant financial resources they have at their disposal.
Meanwhile, after losing out on Teixeira, the Sox made a series of lesser moves. Now I'm not one to believe that there's a media bias against the Yankees or towards the Red Sox. But, the way that the Sox off-season was framed as smart and economical in opposition to the Yankees gluttony was more than a bit hypocritical. Let's look at the Sox off-season moves with economic data courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts:
- John Smoltz signed 1 yr, $5.5M, with potential bonuses totalling an additional $5.5M
- Brad Penny signed 1 yr, $5M, with potential bonuses totalling an additional $3M
- Takashi Saito signed 1 yr, $1.5M, with potential bonuses totalling an additional $6M
- Josh Bard signed 1 yr, non-guaranteed. Reported value $1.7M, with an additional $0.8M bonus potential
- Junichi Tazawa, signed 3 yrs, $3.3M
- Rocco Baldelli signed 1 yr, $0.5M, with potential bonuses totalling an additional $7M
- Mark Kotsay re-signed 1 yr, $1.5M, with potential bonuses totalling an additional $1M
- Jason Varitek re-signed 1 yr $5M
All told, that's $23.3M guaranteed with bonus potential of an additional $25M. That's a drop in the bucket compared to what the Yankees paid out, but the potential $47.25M in 2009 for the Sox isn't all that far off from the $64.5M (signing bonuses included) the Yankees will pay their three free agent signees in 2009. These are some good high risk, high reward signings for the Sox. But what did they get for their money?
- In Smoltz and Penny, two pitchers coming off injury who combined for 122.2 IP in 2008 and a combined 5.43 ERA in the NL. Smoltz has yet to pitch; Penny has been average at best. And it's heavily rumored that Penny will soon be flipped for prospects.
- In Saito they picked up a good reliever who has been very effective in his career, but who has also been beset by injuries. So far this has worked out pretty well.
- Josh Bard, who the Sox traded very early in the 2006 season when they realized he couldn't catch a knuckler, had an even shorter stint this time. He was cut before Spring Training was over, leaving the Sox on the hook for $283K of his salary.
- Tazawa, who was signed through a potentially improper loophole in the Japanese system, is pitching at AA Portland.
- Baldelli has a lengthy injury history and has spent time on the DL this year. Ditto for Kotsay. Together they give the Sox two talented, but highly injury prone, back-up OF/DH/1B types.
- Varitek is 37. He hit .220/.313/.359 (73 OPS+) last year. He's doing better this year, buoyed by a SLG over .500, but his AVG and OBP are below league average.
The Sox aren't some poor small market team. They may not have the financial resources of the Yankees, but aside from the Mets, Cubs, and possibly the Angels and Dodgers, no other MLB franchises can match the financial clout of the Red Sox. Perhaps the media should keep that in mind next time they want to laud the smart, shrewd signings made by the Sox this past off-season.