Somewhere "Prince Theo" just threw a chair against a hotel wall again. The Yankees and Red Sox have been down this road before with Jose Contreras, A-Rod and Johnny Damon. And in every instance the Red Sox got too cute and the Yankees jumped right in.
The Red Sox thought they had Contreras locked up, haggled with A-Rod, Scott Boras and the players union and balked at giving Johnny Damon a deal for seven years at $70 million. This time around with Mark Teixeira, the Red Sox called Scott Boras' bluff even though they turned out to be the high bidder, ultimately it came down to respect the fact that Teixeria wanted to be a Yankee.
The Yankees who were able to get Damon down to $52 million over four years, ended up sliding in with a "bargain" getting Teixeira at $180 million over eight. This down from the largely speculated market rate of $200 million over ten.
One had to believe that given the Red Sox were at a reported $184 million over eight coupled with O's and Nats not upping their offers and the Angels bailing out, that inevitably it would have to be the Yankees moving in on "stealth mode" to land Teixeira. Before the Yankees signed Damon they played it coy stating they'd go with Bubba Crosby in centerfield, likewise with Teixeira they postured that they'd be comfortable going into the 2009 campaign with Nick Swisher on the corner.
Teixeira who grew up a Don Mattingly fan and came up wearing Donnie Baseball's # 23, will give the Yankees their best all-around 1st baseman since Tino Martinez and with all apologies to Jorge Posada, their best middle of the order switch hitter since Bernie Williams left town. Given their dearth of position players above Double-A, picking up the 28 year old Teixeira is a solid move.
Additionally given that the Yankees just locked up CC Sabathia for seven years (a long time for a pitcher, as four is usually the max) and last year dished out a ten year deal for $275 million to a 32 year old A-Rod, it would be logical to surmize the Yankees doing this after realizing Tex wasn't going to be bringing in the same issues as the Giambino.
Teixeira averages 36 HR's a year, he batted .467 in the 2008 ALDS against the Red Sox, has won two golden glove awards and locks down 1st base for the better part of a decade.
Some are saying this move will preclude the Yankees from moving in on Manny Ramirez. Don't be so sure of that. After all weren't the Yankees supposed to be done or imposing a cap on themselves after bringing in Sabathia and A.J. Burnett? If anything this may give them more incentive to throw caution to the wind and blow over Manny with a big offer to cap off a truly historic off-season.
There's still a looming log-jam in the outfield now that Nick Swisher will reside in one of the corner spots, unless of course the Yanks turn around and deal him off. Damon, Hideki Matsui and Xavier Nady are all in the last year's of their current contracts and after making good with Boras I can't see them dealing Damon or Nady. As it stands now the Yankees would favor putting Damon in leftfield and Nady in right and perhaps there's a DH/outfield merri-go-round with Damon, Swisher, Matsui, Cabrera and Gardner.
Of course the Yankees could spin off Matsui to the left coast, perhaps to the Giants or M's and possibly bring in Aaron Rowand to patrol centerfield in a move that could in turn free up the DH spot for Manny Ramirez, with the Yanks using Swisher in a Chad Curtis type role which worked out nicely for the Yankees and their leftfield platoon in the late 90's.
I don't believe this is it for the Yankees yet, but as far as today goes, Tex marks the spot at 1st base.