In a couple of hours, the Red Sox and Yankees will again square off in Fenway Park. While the Yanks are 0-6 against Boston this season, the two teams are tied for first atop the AL East, and the pennant race promises to be a good one this summer.
Despite the Red Sox’s on-field triumphs over the Yanks this season, New York walked away from the off-season the big winner when they seemingly stole Mark Teixeira out from under Boston’s Christmas tree. Six months later, Teixeira is one of the main reasons why the Yanks are fighting for first place. He’s hitting .284/.391/.615 with 18 HR and 51 RBI. “We definitely wouldn’t be where we are right now without him,” Johnny Damon said to The Times’ Jack Curry today.
In a good “What If?” piece, Curry explores what Teixeira means to the Yanks and would could have been had the Red Sox signed their top target. He writes:
The Red Sox positioned their off-season around signing Teixeira, a player who would have fit snugly into their desire for shrewd, patient hitters who play stellar defense. If the Red Sox were assigned the task of building the perfect player, they would have constructed someone who hit, fielded, walked and talked like Teixeira.
The Red Sox were the favorites to sign Teixeira, but they bolted from a meeting with him and Scott Boras, his agent, in December because Boras said their offer was not competitive enough. Johnny Damon of the Yankees never spoke to Teixeira during the negotiations because he assumed it “was a done deal” with Boston. But it was not. The Red Sox soon learned Boras was not bluffing.
Eleven days after the aborted meeting, the Yankees, who had focused on signing pitchers C. C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett, swooped in and signed Teixeira to an eight-year, $180 million deal. The Red Sox lost a superb first baseman over a gap of about $10 million. Even worse, they lost him to the hated Yankees.
A-Rod, in talking to Curry summed it up. “Wow is as much as I can say,” the Yanks’ third baseman said. “I was thinking about that this week. He’s a switch-hitter, he’s young and he’s got world-class makeup. You can write a whole chapter on the difference.”
While neither Red Sox GM Theo Epstein nor Boston owner John Henry would comment for the story, the AL East would look a lot different had the Red Sox landed their prey. It’s a good thing for us they did not.