Maddon not 'devastated' by Teixeira signing
The New York Yankees got an early Christmas present Tuesday, buying themselves the top free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira at $180-million over eight years.
But the free spending of the Rays' AL-East rivals won't dampen manager Joe Maddon's Christmas spirit. In a Los Angeles Times' article, Maddon commented on the Yankees' approach this offseason, which has been like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning.
"I know we're supposed to be devastated by this, but we're not; for us to lament it does no good," the AL Manager of the Year told the L.A. Times. "Of course, Teixeira is a wonderful player -- the Yankees always go after the biggest and the best, and they've done themselves well this winter.
"But we're going to do it our way. It comes down to if you pitch well, you're going to stop good hitters. A lot of what we did last year was based on pitching and good defense. If we continue to do those things well, we'll be right there."
The rest of the article can be read here, which includes some very enthusitc comments from Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. The best one has to be: "Those damn Yankees! They don't play around. When they're trying to win, they're trying to win," the eight-time Gold Glover told the L.A. Times, referring to the Yankees' $26.9-million luxury tax bill they received Tuesday for 2008. "It's crazy. They just paid $27-million in luxury tax. That's like 27 dollars to them. They don't even care."
One thing Hunter, who signed his own five-year, $90-million contract with the Angels before the 2008 season, might want to consider is that even with the money the Steinbrenners are throwing around, the Yankees' payroll has actually gone down. They shed $88-million this offseason and have added $62-million, leaving them still $26-million under last year’s expenditure. And all this free spending had Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio telling Bloomberg News that "the sport (Major League Baseball) might need a salary cap." For those keeping track, MLB is the only U.S. professional sport that doesn't have a salary cap.
The signing of Teixeira pushed the Yankees' winter shopping spree to $423.5-million, which includes contracts for two top free-agent pitchers: left-hander CC Sabathia at seven years, $161-million, and right-hander A.J. Burnett at five years, $82.5-million. Teixeira, 28, becomes the third-highest paid player in the league, behind new teammates Alex Rodriguez (10 years, $275-million) and Derek Jeter (10 years, $189-million) and ahead of Sabathia. Sports Illustrated has a photo gallery here of all the league's players that have signed $100-million-plus contracts over the years.
So what does this mean for the American League Champion Rays? Are the Yankees are a lock to win the pennant and return to the playoffs after missing out last season for the first time in 13 seasons?
Depends on whom you listen to. ESPN's Rob Neyer blogs that "conventional wisdom" makes the "Yanks the team to beat." However, SI's Ben Reiter writes that no one should "hand that World Series trophy to the Yankees just yet." And Danny Knobler of CBSportsline.com says "Don't hate Yanks" because of their deep pockets, but "admire their endeavor."
Either way, the AL East has become the topic of inane sportstalk debate. For good reason, though, since it is the only division to make significant splashes in the MLB offseason.
So with that in mind, which team do you think will win the AL East?
-- Mike Camunas, Times Staff Writer