New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

The Yankees don’t have fun beards and don’t have sexy blue chip prospects lining their rotation like some teams. Instead, the Yankees pay top dollar for established stars and known commodities.

In signing Carlos Beltran to a thre-year, $45 million contract, the Yankees now have a glut of aging outfielders who are mostly DHs. The difference between Carlos Beltran and Vernon Wells or Ichiro or Alfonso Soriano is Carlos Beltran remains very, very productive. While his body might betray him, he can still provide value in right field.

The former center fielder showcased some defensive chops during the World Series and the RF job at Yankee Stadium is not the most challenging place to play. More so thanks to Ellsbury & Gardner gobbling up fly balls in left and center.

Beltran put very nice numbers for the Cardinals in 2013 and should take advantage of the short porch in the Bronx when hitting left-handed. The Yanks can pay somebody like Soriano to play for someone else or trade Brett Gardner for a starter if they so desire.

When you have money, you have options. The Yankees continue improving their team, period. Carlos Beltran is better than their existing outfield options.

The third year and the luxury tax doesn’t mean much to a team with so much financial incentive to put out a competitive product every year. Beltran makes the Yankees better and gives them a means to continue improving. Not a lot of finesse, just building a contender with sheer brute force. The Yankee Way.

Better Living Through Chemistry for Napoli and the Red Sox

The toughest thing to test when signing free agents is fit. How will a player perform in your ball park, how will he integrate himself into the clubhouse and the city? All tough questions to know before committing millions of dollars for a player’s services.

Mike Napoli might well be the perfect fit for the Red Sox. Just about every team would benefit from having a slugger like Napoli in their lineup, but the Fenway Park is a great place for Napoli to hit. Obviously winning the World Series generates all kinds of good will but Mike Napoli’s love for his time in Boston allowed him to take less money to stay with the Sox, as he reportedly turned down richer offers than the two-years, $32MM his reported deal with the Red Sox will pay.

After a three-year contract worth $39MM fell apart last year due to concerns over Napoli’s hip (he signed a one-year deal that ended up worth $13 million after he hit all his performance/health benchmarks), the Red Sox will end up paying

It’s a great move for the Red Sox, who went over Napoli’s medical records with a fine-toothed comb last winter. They got to watch him up close for a year, observing as the former catcher took to first base like a fish to water while putting up pretty standard Mike Napoli numbers. The 129 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) he put up in 2013 matches is career number exactly. They know what they’re getting and Napoli knows how much he liked being a piece of the 2013 championship team. He wants to come back for more.

That Mike Napoli took less money to stay in Boston (as Carlos Beltran did to sign with the Yankees) says a lot about the culture they created and the power of success. It almost seems like the perfect signing: the right player with the right club at the right time. The Red Sox and Yankees aren’t making it easy on their AL East rivals. Spending freely but spending well, a deadly combination.