Just when you thought this offseason couldn't get any wackier, the Yankees acquire Alex Rodriguez to replace ardent cager Aaron Boone at third. In exchange the Rangers get mercurial second-sacker Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named. The Rangers also have agreed to pay $67 M of the $179 M still on A-Rod's contract. The deal was approved by the players union (unlike the last A-Rod deal) and just awaits Bud Selig's slatternly John Hancock.
Though the Red Sox were not involved in the deal, the Yanks acquiring A-Rod is a direct slap in the face to the Red Sox management and the team as a whole. The Yanks and Sox have been parrying and dodging each other all offseason, each trying to get the upper hand in the division. The Sox, you'll recall, attempted to acquire A-Rod not too long ago and Icarus-like failed miserably. In the process they further alienated two of their bigger stars, Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra, who were involved in the deal, and whose involvement was made quite public.
The way that the two organizations went about trying to acquire the best player in the league speaks volumes about them. Of course, the Yankees have deep pockets, but the Red Sox have the second-highest payroll in baseball, and even though they are sabermetrically minded, they are no Oakland A's. The Yanks decided to make the deal and struck quickly. The Red Sox perseverated, ticked off arguably their two best position players, and finally let the deal slip through their fingers over reportedly $20 M, or $3 M a year over the course of A-Rod's contract.
The Yankees do create another hole at second by trading Soriano, and the replacements are the not-too-savory Enrique "Louie Sojo Jr." Wilson, Miguel "Don't call me Joel" Cairo, or a transplanted Erick Almonte. Recently acquired Mike Lamb and Tyler Houston won't help much at second. But it doesn't matter.
The Yankees may have more holes in the depth chart for their position players. But it doesn't matter.
The Yanks have displayed again that they are the superior organization. For all of the Red Sox machinations, they are still the second-place organization.
I'm not saying that the Yanks have locked up the division in acquiring A-Rod. That remains to be seen. The Yankees have, however, responded to the Red Sox challenge in their best Apollo Creed: "I refuse the challenge because it is no challenge, but I'll be glad to beat up on Boston again" (actually "Balboa again", but you get my drift).
And seemingly none of the other issues will come into play because the Yankees will go about resolving them. I know that some will bemoan the hegemony of the Yankee dollar (probably the same lot who hypocritically lamented the failure of the Red Sox to acquire A-Rod). However, you have to admire an organization that gets things done (at least I, as a Phils fan, have to).
So now it's the Red Sox's move. I'll tell you one thing: this is a good thing for baseball. Baseball needs its best players on its best teams on the biggest stages. And the Yankees and Red Sox battling for the division this year might be the best pennant race since the Braves-Giants in '93. Let me tell you, that's a good thing for baseball.