Monday, January 8, 2007

Closing the Gap

There is an interesting article on the RedSox finances by Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald. Apparently, the once unapproachable financial division between the Yanks and the Sawx has dwindled to $20million. After shedding $14million through Unit's dismissal, and dropping more payroll on Sheffield/Wright trades, the aggregate Yankee payroll is about $180million.

The signing of a Roger Clemens is a strong possibility and will obviously raise the Yankee payroll, but currently the gap has been closed. And the financial excuses from RedSox Nation can disappear with it. Barring the signing of a Clemens or acquisition of a Dontrelle Willis, the RedSox have created a noticeable advantage in the starting rotation. However, Massarotti makes a solid point:

Whatever the Yankees have lost to the Red Sox in the starting rotation, they may have gained in the bullpen. Papelbon leaves the Sox without anyone to match up against Mariano Rivera, who remains the closer against whom all others will be measured.

“I go in with eyes wide open,” Cashman said, referring to 2007. “On the positional side, we can throw a lineup out there that no one else can match up with. The pitching side, that’s obviously where we have to focus.”
There is no doubt that the Yankees bullpen is head-and-shoulders above Boston's relief options - and this is particularly evident in the RedSox' lack of a defined closer. Papelbon may become a horse in the rotation, but his absence looms especially large in the pressure-cooker that is Fenway. Papelbon offered Mariano-esqe flashes in 2006, but did hit a rookie wall and fell back to earth - possibly triggering his desire to return to starting pitching.

The focus then must move to the AL east line-ups. 2007 has the makings of some big-time battles between Boston and the Bronx, but the financial competition has also become a bit of a toss-up. Massarotti concludes,
The cost of building the Yankees has come down while the cost of building the Red Sox has gone up. At this rate, it won’t be long before there is no difference at all between baseball’s superpowers.
Whatever happens in 2007, the whining and scapegoating for Boston can now be attributed to nothing other then being outplayed or outmanaged.

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