Opening Day, MLB

Yankees: Somebody Spiked Brian Cashman’s Kool-Aid

Just one day after I anointed him for sainthood, Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, entered the valley of the stupid in Tampa yesterday when comparing the Evil Empire to the team in Boston. If not for his poor choice of words, though, he’s making a salient point…

The place to start, I guess, is the words of Yankees GM, Brian Cashman:

They’re the AL East champs, so we’re not on equal footing,” Cashman said Wednesday. “We were the Wild Card. They had the title within the division last year. I don’t know if they’re putting a flag up for it or not, but they are the AL East champs, we are not. So we are not on equal footing until we take that away from them, while at the same time preventing anybody that finished behind us from surpassing us and joining the fray. Later in the day on ESPN 98.7 radio, Cashman continued to push his ridiculous underdog narrative. “We’re ‘The Little Engine That Could,’” he said as a guest on “The Michael Kay Show.Mike Mazzeo, New York Daily News

Obviously, Cashman could have chosen a better metaphor than the cute little engine. Or better yet, he could have spoken directly to the point that was (probably) stirring in his head as he spoke. Which is that the Red Sox have thrown two sheets to the wind when it comes to payroll this year, far exceeding the luxury tax threshold of $197 million, ballooning all the way up to $237 million.

Meanwhile, as we know, the Yankees have stuck to their guns and now sport a payroll around $177 million. Seventy million dollars now separate the two teams. Not only do the Red Sox lead the major leagues in payroll for 2018, but the $70 million difference between the Sox and the Yankees is more than the entire payroll of the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s, and Philadelphia Phillies.

So yeah, in terms strictly about team payroll, the Yankees are the team pushing the cart uphill, and as such are the underdogs when compared to the Red Sox. Which, depending on how you look at it, is either an advantage for the Yankees or not. Next season, for instance, who would you rather be, the Philadephia Eagles or the New York Giants?

Cashman’s rhetoric looks silly, otherwise. The Yankees will be the overwhelming pick over the Red Sox to capture the American League East when the media predictions begin to assemble towards the end of Spring Training.

Offensively, the Sox can’t come close to the tandem of Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez in the two through five holes. Make it through that, and Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks are striding into the on-deck circle.

If the Red Sox have the edge over the Yankees, it’s in their starting pitching with a one-two-three punch of Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello, each of whom is capable of winning 16-18 games without breaking a sweat. The Yankees, though, are not without their group of aces with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and Sonny Gray back-to-back-to-back. Plus the Yankees bullpen easily outweighs the one in Boston.

$70 million. That’s what it’s all about, and Cashman should have just said that. The Evil Empire in the Bronx is only a remembrance in 2018, and the Yankees have lived up to their pledge to field a team capable of going all the way, while still maintaining a thrifty payroll that doesn’t overspend.

And so, Cashman is correct. The pressure is on the Red Sox to support that extra $70 million being spent on the field by winning the AL East title again. This is one of those times, though, it would have been better if Brian Cashman had been taking a nap instead of standing behind the batting cage at George Steinbrenner Field talking loose-lipped to reporters.

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has been upped a notch in 2018 just by the players who will be on the field. Stanton and Red Sox newcomer J.D. Martinez make it inevitable it will be so. We don’t need the hype. Just let them play ball.

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