BOSTON — There’s nothing wrong with being playful about the Yankees’ takeover as the favorites in the American League East. Just don’t trick yourself into thinking Sonny Gray is the reason, and that the flip switched Monday.
Right after the Chris Sale trade in the winter, Yanks general manager Brian Cashman compared the Sox to the Golden State Warriors. So after the Yankees completed a trade Monday with the A’s for Gray on Monday, Dombrowski — pleasantly — put some pressure right back on the Yanks.
“You mean the Golden State Warriors, you’re talking about?” Dombrowski said in a Fenway Park press conference. “I think the Golden State Warriors have significantly made some moves. I expected it. I would have been surprised if they didn’t. But I think Brian probably has made them the Golden State Warriors, and we’re the significant underdogs, when I’m listening to the MLB Network. So it kind of switched.
“I would anticipate, like [Cashman] said earlier in the year, that he didn’t know how the Red Sox would lose a game — I think it’ll be the same. I don’t know how they’ll lose a game right now. They made some good moves. They made their club significantly better. It didn’t surprise me at all. It was out there for an extended period that they were looking to do those things.”
All in good fun for Dombrowski. But the truth is, the Yanks were in better position than the Sox even before they landed Gray. And if that reality is sustained, it may not be so easy to joke about for Dombo going forward.
A trade deadline where Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Gray were picked up blows the Red Sox’ combo of Eduardo Nunez and Addison Reed out of the water.
But per Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds report — which was updated in the wee hours Monday morning before the trade — the Yankees’ chance to make the American League Division Series is 77.7 percent. The Red Sox’ is 51.3 percent.
This is before incorporating Gray, to reiterate.
So how does Dombrowski actually view the American League East? With cliched general-manager speak.
“I've been in a position where we made acquisitions where we were praised to the hilt that we were going to run away with the division, and we didn’t,” Dombrowski said. “I've been looked at on a secondary basis after we've done things, and we've done really well. So I'm not good at prognosticating those things. It really comes down to how you play. If we play like we're capable of playing, I think we can play with anybody, but we have to do it.”
The Sox could put themselves back into pole position, but it would take a significant turnaround from their often powerless lineup, and also requires some fortunate turns with health. David Price is out for an unknown amount of time and Dustin Pedroia may be joining him on the DL.
“I like our club. I think we have a good club,” Dombrowski said. “We’re in a position where we're very talented. We've got some youthfulness. We've got some veteran guys. Our starting rotation's been strong. I mean, our pitching, first or second in the league it's been. And we just strengthened in the bullpen [with Reed]. We'll get Joe Kelly back.
“Of course, David Price, we'll have to wait and see how he does. But hopefully, Doug Fister will step up and do the job for us, which we think we can. But we like our pitching. Our defense has actually been good since early in the year. We need to score more runs, but we're not a power hitting team. I think we're capable of that if we swing the bats like we're capable of doing and we've gone through a tough stretch, but I think we have a good ball club.”
The Yankees got Sonny Gray. The Red Sox are talking up Doug Fister. Enough said.