Once the trade deadline passed, things were going to be tough on the Yankees. Atop the AL East and with a growing lead, they would have last dibs in the AL for any waiver claims. This meant that the second-place Red Sox have been in a position to block any potential Yankee moves all month. Since both teams have been looking for pitching, that would seem to put the Yankees at a disadvantage — and it has to an extent. Not that they were necessarily interested, but the Sox did claim Billy Wagner before the Yanks had a shot. Who knows how many other times that happened with different players.
Yesterday we learned of the Yankees pulling two moves that hurt the Sox, though not in any truly significant way. First we heard that the Yanks put in a claim on AAA 1B/OF Chris Carter, whom the Red Sox placed on waivers at some point this week. Carter, who is on the Sox 40-man roster, is believed to be New York-bound in the Wagner trade. The Yanks claim means that Carter will remain a player to be named later, and will most likely change teams after the season ends.
This isn’t just a move to stick it to the Sox. As Buster Olney notes, this could put some pressure on the Sox in terms of their 40-man roster. Moving Carter would free up a spot that then could be used to add Paul Byrd or return Daisuke Matsuzaka from the 60-day DL. Now they’ll have to make another move. Placing Carter on waivers again would mean the Red Sox cannot pull him back, so if anyone claims him he cannot be sent to the Mets for Wagner after the season (obviously).
Just before we learned of the Carter claim, we heard that the Yankees put in a claim on Brad Penny earlier this month, and that the Red Sox pulled him back. This blocked the Sox from trading Penny to another team, meaning they could not get a Justin Smoak-type prospect in return for the recently released righty. We also heard yesterday that the Yankees might have interest in Penny. Could he be any worse than Mitre and Gaudin? Wait. Don’t answer that.
While the Sox have the traditional advantage of a blocking position, the Yankees are making their own moves to make life hard on the Sox. I wonder whose moves have hurt more. The Sox could have blocked any number of pitchers the Yankees might have considered trading for — though the pitching-starved Sox have not traded for any save Wagner. The Yanks have forced the Sox to make a 40-man roster move, possibly two, rather than clearing one for free. They also blocked the Sox chances of getting anything, even a pittance, in return for Penny (though no return was guaranteed).
In any case, I love to see this kind of stuff. If you have the chance to make life a little tougher on your opponent, especially when he has the ability to make life hard for you, then go for it. There’s no reason to let the Sox skate by and make easy moves.