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Mark Teixeira calls the Yankees underdogs

Feb 19, 2011, 2:20 PM EDT

Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano

It’s hard to argue with what the Red Sox have done this offseason. They signed the best position player available in Carl Crawford and acquired Adrian Gonzalez, one of the best all-around first basemen in the sport. They also bolstered their bullpen with the additions of Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. Most impartial observers believe that they deserve to be called the favorites in the American League East.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Mark Teixeira and that ragtag bunch of Yankees are ready to embrace their new-found “underdog” role.

“We’re the underdogs this year,” Teixeira said. “I love it. No one is picking us right now. Everyone in here should be looking forward to winning a championship. When you put on the pinstripes that is exactly what your goal should be every year. I think everyone understands that just because the public may not be picking us it doesn’t mean we don’t believe it in here.”

Says the guy who plays for a team with a $200 million payroll. Maybe this is a byproduct of playing in the ultra-competitive American League East, but comments like this always remind me that the Yankees live in a completely different universe than most everybody else.

  1. scatterbrian - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    The AL East doesn’t seem to understand what underdog means. Not being a favorite doesn’t make you the underdog. Having little chance to win makes you so, and I don’t think anyone rational is making the argument that the Yankees have little chance to win.

    • Old Gator - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      That’s where I come in. Since few would mistake me for rational, I argue that the Borg has little chance to win. I smell a Beanbag-Feelie World Series wherein good pitching stops good hitting.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        I gave you a thumbs up Old Gator.

    • Andrew - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      The Yankees did the same thing in the playoffs, claiming they were the underdogs against the Twins. HA.

  2. uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    D.J. – You are making it sound like the Red Sox have assembled a team on a shoe string. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that their payroll will probably finish at about $170MM for 2011 and even higher for 2012 probably closer to $175MM when Gonzalez’s NEW contract kicks in. Not exactly chump change.

    • D.J. Short - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:36 PM

      We all know the Red Sox spend money. I shouldn’t need to preface that. But just because the Red Sox are the favorites doesn’t mean the Yankees are suddenly underdogs.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:47 PM

        If you are not the favorite, then what are you?

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:35 PM

        I agree that the Yankees are dogs. Not the Nathan’s type of dog either.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:39 PM

        proudly – as a fan of the Jays I’m sure you have a lot of experience with dogs.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 19, 2011 at 5:26 PM

        “But just because the Red Sox are the favorites doesn’t mean the Yankees are suddenly underdogs.”

        Isn’t that EXACTLY what it means? I love it really. Teixeira says exactly what everyone else seems to be saying (and what they say every year, it seems) and he’s going to get roasted.

      • paperlions - Feb 20, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        No. An underdog is expected to lose. No one expects the Yankees to lose. Being considered 2nd or 3rd most likely to win in a 30 team league does not equate with being an underdog.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

      Boston only has $161M for this season, $40M behind the Yankees. (For reference, that’s the same difference as between 2nd place in payroll, the Phillies, and 8th, the Giants.)

      I know, uyf, that you know the Yankees’ payroll commitments, but Boston has plenty of unneeded pieces leaving at the end of the year that should leave them with about that $161M payroll again. They’ll probably add $10-$15M in raises, and $17M in the Gonzalez extension, but they’ll be losing Ortiz, Papelbon, Cameron, Drew, Scutaro, and Wakefield, all of whom can be replaced much much cheaper.

      But these are just corrections to your maths, when your point stands. Boston ain’t a resource or roster underdog either.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        That is to say: Boston is a resource underdog to the Yankees only, the Yankees are a roster underdog to Boston only (and maybe the Phillies), and neither is an underdog in either sense to any other team in baseball.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:24 PM

        Ari – I know you keep up to date on your Red Sox. Then you should be aware that the Red Sox paid a luxury tax for the 2010 season. Since the threshold for the 2010 luxury tax was $170MM the Red Sox payroll had to have exceeded the amount.
        As for their 2012 payroll estimates. Please check out baseball reference they estimate the Sox payroll for 2012 without the extension for Gonzalez at $159MM that $159MM estimate only includes players commitments and what b-r uses as an average for arbitration eligible players (not FA which Gonzalez is classified as in 2012) . So either you’re wrong in your estimate of the Sox 2012 payroll or baseball reference is. I’m guessing baseball reference is going to be closer to the real number.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        Someone referenced that in a thread long ago without being able to find the link. Where’s B-Ref’s estimate for the 2012 payroll? I’d be curious to know how they got that, considering Cot’s has Boston at $101M for 2012, which would be $124M after Gonzalez’ reported extension. Arb raises would no doubt eat another ~$10M, but that still leaves another $25M Boston would have to spend on minor pieces. And that’s to get up to the payroll they’re at today, not the $175M you think they’re going to hit.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:47 PM

        Also, yes, their final payroll was a tiny bit above $170M last year. But it’s down to $161M this year. Could well get higher, of course, if they add some pieces partway through the year, as many contenders do.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:55 PM

        Ari – baseball reference is showing Gonzalez payroll for 2011 at $5.5MM unless you believe the “framework” of his agreement is for only $22.5MM per $157.5MM which I do not believe. I believe it’s much closer to $24MM per. Then my estimated of $17MM to $20MM is accurate. But regardless. I notice in your response you didn’t address my comment about baseball reference estimating the Sox payroll for 2012 at $159MM without Gonzalez since he is a FA. Factor in your $22.5 or my $24MM it still brings the Sox up to $$181+MM for 2012. As for your point #2 I clearly stated in my original post above that $53MM that I said was coming off the books included players in 20911 and 2012.
        In fact here is a link on the very subject of Gonzalez’s contract to be.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 4:16 PM

        Ari – if you are still interested in that link to b-r for their salary estimates here it is.

        Personally I find baseball-reference a lot more accurate then Cot’s. For example Cot’s simply ignores arbitration cases in their estimates. Also about your comment on Cot’s estimate for the Sox for 2012. Their estimate for 2012 at $101MM only takes into account 10 players and that does NOT include Gonzalez and all of the other FA or arbitration cases that will happen in 2012. So if you will allow me. Even using their $101MM plus again allow me $24MM for Gonzalez that’s $125MM for just 11 players. There is no way in the world the Sox are going to sign another 15+ players (including FA, arbitration players, and pre-arbitration cases) for less then $50MM. of course that’s just my opinion. But I tend to be pretty good at judging these types of things. I think you will find baseball-reference to be pretty much on target with their estimates.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 4:19 PM

        So you’re speculating that Gonzalez will get $25M? I very much doubt that. And he’s making $6.2M this year, per Cot’s. And, with Dice-K, you’re taking into account people becoming FAs AFTER 2012 to your 2012 payroll estimate?

        Again, I’d like to see how B-Ref actually gets that payroll estimate. Do you have a link? Their future payroll estimators involve a lot of free agent guesswork, I’ve been told, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are, in fact, already adding Gonzalez in there.

        I’m going to go ahead and go by Cot’s payroll obligations which includes everything but arb estimates and Gonzalez’ reported extension. Add $23M for Gonzalez and another $10M for arb raises, and you’re still left with $25M before you even get to the 2011 payroll, with, again, only minor holes to fill like DH and 4th OF. And another $15M before you get to the $175M 2012 payroll you listed.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 4:43 PM

        Thanks for the link! I’ll have to check B-Ref’s math when I get a chance later.

        That’s $125M for 11 players, sure, but plenty of the extra spots will be taken by players making the minimum or in arbitration. Buchholz, Lowrie, Saltalamacchia, and Bard will be making about $6M combined. Another $3M for Wheeler (I believe it’s a team option, not sure though, and if not they can replace him with someone of the same cost). So now you’re at $134M for 16 players. $26M for the remaining 9 players is eminently doable when most of that’s the back of the bullpen and the bench, and the rest of it’s 4th OF and DH.After all, we’ve already accounted for 8 of the 9 starters (not DH), 5 starting pitchers, and three good relievers. Those 9 extra spots are NOT going to take the $46M they’d need to cost to get up to your $180M.

        So yeah, give me some actual breakdown that shows the Sox at your $175M or $180M for 2012. I’ve given you lots of breakdowns that show they’re not going to be that high. Give me some math that shows it that high. Not just, “that’s just my opinion. But I tend to be pretty good at judging these types of things.”

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 5:13 PM

        Ari – you have the breakdown. All you need to do is go to baseball-reference (the link I gave you) It explains it much better then I could and with impartiality.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 5:27 PM

        Ari – Just so we are clear the $175 to $180MM estimated Sox payroll for 2012 is not my figure. As I’ve stated several times here baseball-reference estimates the Sox payroll for 2012 at $159MM without Gonzalez. Add in $22+/- MM to that number for Gonzalez and the total is $181MM. Those are NOT my numbers my friend they are baseball-reference numbers plus what we all are accepting is the least yearly pay Gonzalez’s new contract will call for. Insist if you must that they are my numbers but that is clearly not the case.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 9:20 PM

        There is no breakdown of what contracts it is calculating (as far as I can see). Considering that any careful count (whether mine, or the other guy on here who did it, or just looking at Cot’s directly) ends with an amount at $160M WITH Gonzalez, I have to guess, in the absence of an actual count anyone’s ever done that gets you up to $180M next year, that they are, in fact, counting Gonzalez’. extension. For the coming year, B-R doesn’t make guesstimates like that, but for following years, I know that they do. So unless you can come up with a breakdown that actually shows that, I’m going to assume that, rather than B-R being wrong and everyone else being right, B-R is simply agreeing with everyone else on the final amount, and they are already adding Gonzalez’s deal in there.

        Again, this is obvious if you just look at the numbers. You yourself got $124M for 11 players (WITH Gonzalez), then you add the five I listed above (arb estimates for Bard, Buchholz, Lowrie, and Saltalamacchia, and then Wheeler’s option), you get $134M for 16 players, and the only spots left are the super cheap ones: DH, 3 or 4 back-end relievers, and 4 or 5 bench spots). There is no way to spend $46M for those 9 spots and get to $180M. That would be $5M each for 4th and 5th OFs and 6th inning pitchers and backup SSs and the like. You get those guys for, like, $3M on average if you are really overspending on your bench spots.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 10:06 PM

        Ari – you obviously didn’t read their explanation of where they get their numbers. Either that you are blind to the facts.
        Here is there explanation:
        Arb Costs Rough estimated value of all arbitration cases (uses 3-year averages for 1st yr, 2nd,etc) $6.08M for 2011, $53.1M for 2012, $60M for 2013. These are baseball reference arbitration estimates for the Red Sox for the years noted. They do NOT include FA players.
        They can’t make it any clearer then that.
        I’m done with this obviously you don’t want to believe/accept the facts.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 10:16 PM

        It’s a fact that B-R does creative stuff with their long-term forecasting of team payrolls. I’ve seen it talked about, which is why I’d love to see their actual numbers instead of their final result.

        Again, this is pretty basic. Either everyone else is right and B-R is just plain stupid, or everyone else is just plain stupid and B-R is the only one who’s got it right, or you’re wrong that they aren’t including Gonzalez, which, given the math, is the most likely result.

        Let me know if you have any actual math to show me that would somehow get the Sox up to $180M. Rather than, “B-R says $160M and I don’t think they include Gonzalez even though I clearly can’t figure out how they could get there without him.”

        This ain’t calculus. Basic addition shows $160M with Gonzalez next year. Unless, again, Boston gets a big FA again next year, or spends $5M on every reliever and 4th OF. I’ll believe Boston will have $25M more in payroll than everyone else’s estimates except for B-R when I see some actual simple fricking addition that supports it.

      • thinman61 - Feb 20, 2011 at 8:46 AM

        Ari, I think I see how B-R gets to their $160M number, and it doesn’t include Gonzalez. They do make some other assumptions that I consider unlikely, though, such as the team exercising their options on Scutaro, Atchison and Wheeler for a combined hit of $9.6M. They also estimate $53.1M to account for the 13 arb-eligible players, which is where I think the biggest disconnect comes in between them and other estimates. Counting Boof Bonser, Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez as arb-eligible player on the Sox’ 2012 payroll? Umm, no.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 20, 2011 at 8:55 AM

        Yeah, maybe it’s not Gonzalez, but there have to be some questionable assumptions for their estimates. That’s why saying, “Yeah, no, we just did arb eligible estimates and picked up every option,” is not anywhere near as useful as saying, “Here’s all the contracts we added up.”

      • thinman61 - Feb 20, 2011 at 9:56 AM

        Here are the 2012 arb-eligible players that are actually on the Sox roster for 2011: Hideki Okajima, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Alfredo Aceves, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Daniel Bard. That’s 9 players, not the 13 that B-R account for. Total 2011 payroll for those 9 players is under $8M. There’s absolutely no way that blossoms to $53.1M in 2012, as the B-R calculations assume.

        B-R are flat out wrong with their estimate, plain and simple.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 20, 2011 at 5:35 PM

        Ahh, so there’s the error. $53M in arb raises? Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez are a) in arbitration and b) with Boston anyway?

        Thanks for solving this! I couldn’t make heads nor tails of Bref.

    • bloodysock - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:53 PM

      I wouldn’t say 2012 is that high. They have a ton of payroll rolling off after this season including Ortiz ($12.5), Drew ($14), Papelbon ($12), Cameron ($7.5) and Scutaro.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:16 PM

        The Red Sox have approximately $53MM coming off the books between 2011 and 2012 give or take. (Cameron $7+, Drew $14, Ortiz 12, DiceK $10 and Papelbon $12M). Of that $53M approximately 35% or $17 to $20MM will go towards Gonzalez resigning. That leaves approximately $30 to $35MM left over. They will have to sign 2 outfielders, one DH and and additional pitcher. That $30 to $35MM will NOT be enough to cover 4 players. Net effect will be an increase in the 2012 payroll for the Sox over their 2010 payroll.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:38 PM

        Your math is quite off, my friend. Not your fault, I’m sure; it’s just that you don’t know Boston’s roster as well as a Red Sox fan.

        1. It’s not $17M to $20M more for Gonzalez, unless you think Gonzalez is going to be paid $26M. ($23M minus the $6M+ he’s being paid right now leaves you $17M.)

        2. Dice-K doesn’t come off the books until after 2012. So they do not have to sign an additional pitcher, unless you count a Wakefield replacement, who is going to be in the ‘pen this year. If another pitcher is needed, the small amount he’s making this year should be enough to get someone of about the same quality.

        3. You forgot Scutaro, who’s coming off the books as well, to be replaced by the minimum-wage (and probably better) Lowrie. Or, if he doesn’t work out, they could replace Scutaro at a similar price, or even just pick up his option. So possible savings there as well, if Lowrie works out, and he’ll be given plenty of chances to do that this season.

        4. Cameron is a $7M fourth OF. They don’t need another starting OF to replace him, and they should be able to get a 4th OF for considerably less than that.

        5. As to the other leaving OF, Drew, they have a decent young RF to replace him, Ryan Kalish. If he doesn’t work out, they should be able to get another RF for less than the $14M, or spend more even, given their savings elsewhere.

        6. DHs are cheap these days. They probably won’t spend more than $6M on one. Possibly even just resign Ortiz to a smaller deal.

        So basically, if your initial $53M is correct, instead of having $30-$35M left over, they have $36M ($53M minus the $17M). Then they can use that $36M to get: a 4th OF, a DH, maybe a spare arm or two. None of those are historically expensive. However, some of that extra money will no doubt go towards arb raises, which (I’m guessing) weren’t counted against your $53M.

        In the end, the pieces Boston’s losing at the end of the season are complementary pieces that are currently overpaid, due to picking up options, signing better players and moving the former starters to reserve roles, and so on. They are NOT losing anything that they can’t sign or re-sign far cheaper.

      • quintjs - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:44 PM

        says who uyf1950? – most Boston writers believe Ryan Kalish will be in RF in 2012, and he can always share the position with Reddick if Reddick has a decent 2011, so now that is just under 30-35million for three positions. You said outfielder, but you meant fourth outfielder, they are not expensive, so even if the Sox sign one we are looking at a few million at most. Lets be stupid and say that leaves 25million for a DH and a 5th starter. Prices for DH’s are plummeting so its easy to get a DH for under 10million. So that leaves 15million for a 5th starter… and that is in 2012, assuming neither Doubrant, Miller, Tazawa, Aceves take up that spot which easily could happen.

        So I don’t think its a lock that the Sox payroll will be higher in 2012.

  3. Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    The Yankees are underdogs in that there chances to win the division are generally seen as slightly less than Boston’s. An underdog doesn’t have to be a huge underdog. You could call the Yankees slight underdogs to win the division.

    Of course, their payroll is way above anyone else’s, which makes them both inefficient spenders and not underdogs in a more meta sense, in that they have more resources than anyone else.

    tl;dr: Tex is kind of right, unless you think resources are what makes you favorites or not, as opposed to the team you put together with those resources.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:53 PM

      My friend I like your comment about the Yankees payroll relative to anyone else. You could say basically the same thing about the Red Sox. They had the 2nd highest payroll in 2010 and missed the playoffs completely. They spent $40MM more then the next highest AL team in 2010 roughtly the same amount at the Yankees outspent the Sox by. Does that make the Red Sox inefficient spenders having the 2nd highest payroll in all ML and out spending the next highest AL team (according to USA salary database) and still missing the playoffs?

      • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:57 PM

        Yup! On paper they spent okay in the ’09/’10 offseason, but injuries meant that the final results were very inefficient to the overall expenditure. I believe they were the second highest payroll ever to miss the playoffs, behind only the ’08 Yankees.

    • paperlions - Feb 20, 2011 at 9:32 AM

      Actually, by definition, an underdog has to be expected to lose, in no way are the Yankees expected to lose. Aren’t they a consensus WC pick? Being expected to make the playoffs is in no way a characteristic of an underdog.

  4. Jeremiah Graves - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    They did the same thing last year in the playoffs:

    They’re clearly embracing the hipster culture in their efforts to be ironic or meta or something…

    • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 2:58 PM

      Yep. Not a new thing.

  5. SmackSaw - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    He can’t speak. He’s a robot.

  6. needtoplay - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Setting aside payrolls for the time being, I would like to see some discussion on the true impact of the “addition” of Gonzalez and Crawford. I have read many articles on their addition, but very few, if any, on who they lost: the best hitting 3rd baseman last year (Beltre), and one of the best hitting catchers in the game (Martinez). I am not really sure that the added offense from their “additions” offsets those lost players as much as everyone thinks they will. Most stories make it sound as tho they have lost nothing from last year.

    What will make the bigger difference, IMHO, is the return to health of Pedroia, Youkilis and Ellsbury, and rebound years from Beckett and Lackey. Don’t get me wrong, Gonzalez and Crawford are great players, but is their combined performance (over another year of Martinez and Beltre) really the cause for their high rating ? Should not be ignored, but should not be THE reason they are so highly rated.

    Bottom line: Boston’s key players’ return to health will be a larger factor in their rise than the delta of Gonzalez/Crawford vs Beltre/Martinez.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 3:53 PM

      Agree with your basic point, that the returns to health and positive regression will be a bigger difference this year than the pure 2011 Gonzalez/Crawford vs. 2010 Beltre/Maritnez comparison. However, that comparison is a bigger difference than some think, considering Martinez didn’t have much playing time last year, due to injury and just generally being a catcher. Also, since Gonzalez and Crawford are much younger and project to age better, and Beltre wasn’t going to repeat his year, it’s a great trade moving forward.

      That last point, of course, doesn’t disagree with your point, which was about this year.

      • needtoplay - Feb 19, 2011 at 4:32 PM

        Good points, Ari. Martinez was one of their many wounded last year. It is amazing to me that they won as many games as they did under those circumstances… so many wounded and down years from Beckett and Lackey.

        And it will be very interesting to see how well Beltre does with his 2nd long-term, big bucks deal. Hopefully, for Texas, better than he did, overall, with his first. But playing half his games in their ballpark should help him come close(r).

  7. rje49 - Feb 19, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    I see this has turned into a discussion about the Red Sox payroll, but back to the subject – the definition of “underdog”, by the World English Dictionary –
    1. the competitor least likely to win a fight or contest
    2. a person in adversity or in a position of inferiority
    The Yankees are not considered the least likely to win, and can’t be considered in a postion of inferiority. Tex is full of BS.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 19, 2011 at 5:36 PM

      Webster has the definition as this: a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest

      Since they Yankees are not predicted to win the AL East, they are predicted to be among the losers. Also, given the tone of the few comments actually addressing Teixeira, most people here think of him as a loser as well.

      Thus, he is right.

      BTW, to put the Yankees chances in perspective, does anyone think they won’t improve their rotation as the season progresses? I don’t know exactly how they will do it, but I know they will do it. Thus, I still don’t push the Sox from also-rans in 2010 to favorites in 2011. Let’s see them actually win a few games first.

      • spudchukar - Feb 19, 2011 at 5:42 PM

        Because a dictionary can only define in the singular, it must choose least, when in fact it may really mean less. Just a lexical rule followed by all dictionary authors.

      • spudchukar - Feb 19, 2011 at 5:42 PM

        Because a dictionary can only define in the singular, it must choose least, when in fact it may really means less. Just a lexical rule followed by all dictionary authors.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        spudchukar – you liked it so much you said it twice.

  8. evanpenn - Feb 19, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    Tex’s comments are incorrect because he said “We’re the underdogs this year”. That implies that his team is the least favorite to win in a group. If he had said “We’re underdogs this year”, that would imply that his team is among those that are not the favorite, and would have been correct.

    The inclusion of “the” indicates he is referencing one team, the Yankees. His comment, taken literally, indicates he believes the Yankees are a consensus to finish last.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 19, 2011 at 9:57 PM

      Unless your set of rivals is exactly two. Since most people consider it a race between the Yankees and Sox, saying the Yankees are the underdog can be considered correct.

      (Of course, the Rays are better than people think.)

      • indaburg - Feb 20, 2011 at 1:20 PM

        And by “most people”, you are referring to Bostonians and New Yorkers and their fans. There are three other teams in the division. It is not a two team race, as you acknowledged as an afterthought in parentheses, and as a Rays fan, I hope you’re right. The Orioles and Blue Jays are also better than most think. Showalter has been nothing short of a miracle worker since he arrived at Baltimore, and the Jays always fly under the radar with some good talent. It should be an interesting season. If not for the unbalanced schedule, I would bet that all of these teams could finish with a .500 record or better.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 20, 2011 at 5:16 PM

        Actually, most analysts and statisticians are picking one of those two. I do think the Rays are better than people think, but they are a step below the Sox and Yanks.

        At least, on paper! In reality, although the most likely thing is for them to be a step below, I think they have the most upside of the three teams. I could see Longoria getting even better, or Upton really hitting some prime years, or Hellickson joining Price as an ace.

        Although the Rays are Boston’s division rivals, they’re probably my second-favorite team (I’m weird like that), and I’ll be rooting with you!

        (The Jays and Os, though, while they might be contenders again eventually, it ain’t gonna be this year. Especially, as you say, with having to play the three teams above them 54 times a year.)

    • thinman61 - Feb 20, 2011 at 8:12 AM

      Terry Francona said it best. “They have a $200 million payroll. They’re not gonna be too underdoggish.’’

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 20, 2011 at 8:56 AM

        Just because people aren’t picking you doesn’t make you underdogs. Vegas has the Yankees and Boston both at 5/2 to win the AL and the Yankees slightly behind the Red Sox to win the World Series, BOTH behind the Phillies at 3/1. Texiera’s “woe-is-us” attitude makes him look silly. I hate to keep running it out there but everybody IS picking the Yankees to make the playoffs, and once you get there it’s a whole new ballgame. So Tex, “Cry me a (freaking) river!!!!”

  9. indaburg - Feb 20, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    The only teams in the AL East that can ever use the word “underdog” when referring to themselves are the Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays. The Red Sox and Yankees both have an over-abundance of resources and thus can never be considered true underdogs. Both teams, by measure of their vast resources, are always expected to come on top, or very close to the top. To Texeira I say, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    • Ari Collins - Feb 20, 2011 at 3:14 PM

      Thumbs up for the reference.

  10. funkygoorilla - Feb 20, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    The Red Sox buy all their championships!

  11. rapmusicmademedoit - Feb 24, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    Only the Yankees and Redsox pay their player’s money, the other teams pay their players with jelly beans.

    Why does every conversation in baseball end up about money and yet the Giants win the world series.
    and as a YANKEES fan I was happy for San Fran
    buh bye

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