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December 14, 2004

by Larry Mahnken

I think Yankees fans can identify with how Red Sox fans must feel today. We went through something similar a year ago. It wasn't quite the same, of course, but it was quite a shock.

When Andy Pettitte signed with the Astros, it stunned most of New York. Obviously, we knew that there was a mutual interest between Pettitte and Houston, but it seemed like Andy's love of the Yankees and the Yankees' love of Pettitte would overcome that, and he'd be back.

But apparently the Yankees' love of Pettitte wasn't as strong as we thought it was, and they made a tepid pursuit of him. We waited for him to be signed every day, until the one day when the news came out that he wasn't coming back, he was going home.

It didn't kill the Yankees' rotation, though it did leave them bereft of lefty starting pitching. I think it would be silly to blame the Yankees' failure in the ALCS on that, but I've digressed quite a bit now...

Yesterday Red Sox nation found out that it's very likely that they're going to lose Pedro Martinez to the New York Mets. I'm no fan of the Mets, but they've done the Yankees a great favor, even though it's going to cost the Bombers some back page headlines. They've taken from the Red Sox one of the best pitchers in baseball, and while the Yankees have historically done quite well against that pitcher, there's no way you can say that this isn't good for the Yankees.

Boston will almost certainly turn to Matt Clement to fill their #2 pitching spot now, but even if they get him, Clement is no Pedro. The Yankees' rotation matches up pretty solidly against Boston's now, and if the Yankees can sign Carlos Beltran I have to call them the favorites to win the AL East again. Even with the mediocre moves they've made in the rotation, they haven't really gotten any worse in that aspect of the game. By losing Pedro, the Red Sox get worse.

Still, Boston's not going away. They'll use that money on Clement, they'll direct some of it towards Edgar Renteria and Jason Varitek. They'll come back strong in 2005, they'll be as tough a team to beat as any other in baseball. But they'll be a little bit worse than they could have been, and for the Yankees that's good news.