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Curtis Granderson led off the 10th inning with a tiebreaking homer off Jonathan Papelbon and the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 3-1. Granderson hit an 0-and-1 pitch into the right-field seats against Papelbon for his second homer in three games with his new team. Granderson also homered on Sunday night.

Then, after three walks issued by Papelbon, Mark Teixeira drove in the final run on a groundout as the Red Sox wasted an effective performance by John Lackey in his first appearance since signing an $82.5 million, five-year free agent contract. Lackey allowed three hits in six innings (with three strikeouts) and left with a 1-0 lead.

Chan Ho Park allowed one hit in three scoreless innings after Andy Pettitte’s start, and Mariano Rivera pitched the 10th for his second save. Pettitte was as effective as Lackey, pitching 6 innings, allowing six hits, one run, walking three, and striking out four.

After an expletive-filled tirade to the Boston media after last night’s game, David Ortiz responded, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the third with his first hit in nine at bats. Ortiz’s single scored Dustin Pedroia. That hit was Ortiz’s only offensive performance, in his other three at-bats, Ortiz ended innings with two strikeouts and a groundout.

The Yankees tied the game in the seventh after Jorge Posada doubled off Scott Schoeneweis. Daniel Bard relieved and, on an 0-and-2 count, allowed Nick Swisher’s game-tying single.

The Yankees are off Thursday before heading back to Tampa to take on the Rays in a three-game series. Javier Vazquez will have his first start of the season on Friday.

Photo above from the AP.

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2009 Record: 95-67, 2nd in AL East

Key Losses: Jason Bay-LF (free agent)

Key Additions: John Lackey-P (free agent); Adrian Beltre-3B (free agent); Mike Cameron-CF; Marco Scutaro-SS (free agent)

This is one of the fun things about having a blog with two authors-occasionally we write contradicting things.  Usually we agree about baseball related matters and predictions and most of what he has said this preseason, I have agreed with.

But I am going to disagree on one thing.  In his well written prediction of the Tampa Bay Rays season, he forecasts a 92-70, 3rd in the AL East finish.  I pretty much agree that on the record (I predict 94-68) but I actually see that record earning the Rays 2nd place in the AL East and the AL Wild Card.  That obviously leaves the Sox back in third place.

On paper, I love the Boston starting pitchers.  Josh Beckett has been a dominating pitcher year in and year out since 2003 and will serve as the team’s ace again in 2010.  Jon Lester and new addition John Lackey could be aces on 10 American League teams right now.  Tim Wakefield has had another decent spring and Clay Bucholz has proven to be a strong young pitcher.  The team also has Daisuke Matsuzaka starting the season on the disabled list and although he hasn’t been the dominating pitcher recently that he was when he broke into the league, I’d definitely take him as a 6th option for the rotation any day.

The bullpen was top 5 in MLB last season and they bring back most of their guys.  Jonathon Papelbon is the second-best closer in the AL, but he’s obnoxious and thinks a little too highly of himself.  Still, you don’t want to see him coming out of the bullpen when you’re down 1 run in the ninth.

What I don’t like about the team is their lack of offense.  It’s true that no team wins a championship without strong pitching but I think GM Theo Epstein has spent too much money and effort on starting pitching and not enough on bats.  It’s great if your pitchers can hold teams to 4 runs a game or less, but only if your team can score 6 or more a game and I don’t think this team has the bats to create 900 runs this season.  They hit 872 last season, but this is not last season’s lineup.

Most notably missing is Jason Bay, who was essentially ignored by the Boston front office in the off-season and signed with the NY Mets.  I like the first four guys in the lineup, but really no one else. Jacoby Ellsbury is “wicked” fast at the top of the lineup, Dustin Pedroia gets hits and gets on base, Victor Martinez had a .405 OBP in 56 games for the Sox last season and Kevin Youkilis is dangerous at the plate and can easily get 90 RBI.

Everyone else is kind of old and washed up.  David Ortiz is heading into his 14th big league season and probably his 4th or 5th without performance enhancing drugs.  He has degraded to a guy who hits 20 homers, but with a .250 batting average.  Mike Cameron is fast and traditionally has had a strong OBP, but he’s horrible at the plate (.250 BA last season).  I am also skeptical of guys who can’t latch on for more than two years with one team.

Adrian Beltre is still supposed to be in his peak at age 30, but at the end of the day, he’s a career .270 hitter.  JD Drew is inconsistent and possibly washed up.  Marco Scutaro is young and possibly still growing stronger as a hitter, but I think it might be hard to hit without anyone on base in front of you and two outs.

Still, this team is super dangerous.  If one or two of the old guys pull out a surprise season at the plate and Scutaro exceeds expectations, this team will have what it takes to win their 3rd championship in 7 years.  I just don’t think they can do it.

2010 Season Prediction: 89-73, 3rd in AL East

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With the addition of pitcher John Lackey, the Red Sox have what can only be interpreted as the best starting pitching rotation in the big leagues.  Period.  Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Bucholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield are the 6 possible starters the Red Sox could use next season.  And those names are pretty daunting – especially since Bucholz and Wakefield are their “worst pitchers” – two guys who could be #2 or #3 guys on many other AL teams!

It’s hard not to be worried a little.

Then I remember its only December and just because something  looks good, doesn’t mean it is or will be.  Rewind back to December of 2008, and I would have told you (and did for that matter) that the Yankees had the best rotation – Sabathia, Burnett, Wang, Pettitte, Chamberlain – but then Wang’s pitching abilities took a nose dive, Burnett proved he still does not have control over his, well, control and Chamberlain failed to quiet all the critics who say he belongs in the bullpen not the rotation.

But, it’s hard not to worry a little.

According to several sources on Twitter and Jayson Stark on ESPN.com, the LA Angels are in serious talks with Hideki Matsui to become their DH, replacing Vlad Guerrero.

Also in news today, John Lackey has apparently agreed to a five year, $82.5 million contract with the Red Sox, and the Sox are also in talks with Mike Cameron.

Also, a three-way deal that would send Roy Halladay to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee to Seattle is “close” but “not done,” according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.

While I have the utmost respect for Matsui, the Yankees no longer needed him, especially when he expressed interest in being in the outfield more often. If the signing falls into place, I wish him best of luck.

I’m perfectly fine with the Halladay deal, that would keep him out of the AL East and the American League altogether. I’m more surprised at Boston’s activity today. After a ho-hum two weeks where the only two things they did was to sign Boof Bonser and trade for Max Ramirez, they got the top free agent pitcher to give them a formidable 1-2-3 punch, and are in talks for a quality center-fielder.

The Yankees need to step up on their activity for the outfield, and a DH bat, and perhaps an extra arm.

Will the Yankees make a bigger splash in 2010 or 2011 offseason?

After last season’s hot stove signings, the Yankees seem to be pretty set offensively and in the front end of the rotation, they need an arm or two.

Mark Feinsand wrote today about the potential bidding war between the Yankees and Red Sox that’s in the making for when Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee hit the free agent market next offseason.

A source with knowledge of the Yankees’ thinking said the Bombers already have their sights set on signing either Halladay or Cliff Lee if both become free agents after next season. Yankees executives, however, fear that Lee might sign a long-term deal with the Phillies before becoming a free agent, leaving Halladay as the lone target for teams looking for an ace.

And also had this to say about the Yankees view of free agent John Lackey:

Even though the free-agent market is thin when it comes to starting pitching this winter, some Yankees officials are intrigued by the idea of signing Angels starter John Lackey.

Others are wary of signing Lackey to a big contract, according to one Yankees executive, citing the righthander’s injury issues over the past two seasons. There is also the Angels’ apparent willingness to let him walk, which some see as a sign that they know something about the health of his arm that others don’t.

I’m a little skeptical of Halladay due to his age, Lee as well. Also Lackey has had two iffy seasons with injuries. I’d love to see the Yankees develop out of the farm system.  But if we get Lackey for a modest contract this offseason (3-4 years @ $14-18 mil. per year) I’d be fine. If we want to wait for Halladay or Lee, I know we’ll be paying more. A whole lot more.

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