Red Sox

Zack Britton makes bold boast about Yankees ahead of Red Sox series

Zack Britton makes bold boast about Yankees ahead of Red Sox series

The New York Yankees, like the rival Boston Red Sox, stayed virtually silent at Wednesday's MLB trade deadline.

And Zack Britton couldn't be happier.

While folks in Boston (rightfully) called out president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski for failing to upgrade a third-place Red Sox team, the Yankees reliever believes his club is elite as is.

"I've played against the Yankees my whole career," Britton told SNY's Scott Thompson. "This is by far the best team I've seen them put together since I've been in the big leagues. So I think we got a really good shot with the guys in-house."

In fact, Britton, who spent seven-plus seasons with the Baltimore Orioles before coming to New York at the 2018 trade deadline, insists the Yankees in full form are the best team in baseball.

"Obviously we gotta play better than we have over the last few weeks," he added. "But if we do and guys pitch and hit to their potential, play defense to their potential, we're better than every team."

They're certainly better than the Red Sox, who trail New York by 10.5 games entering a three-game series in the Bronx.

The Sox showed signs of life last weekend by taking three of four from the Yankees at Fenway Park but are 1-6 against their rival this season on away or neutral (London) turf. If that trend continues, Britton's Yankees could drive a final nail into Boston's American League East coffin.

You could argue the Houston Astros are the new class of the AL after landing stud starter Zack Greinke. But the Yankees also should get Luis Severino and Dellin Betances back from injuries for the stretch run, so Britton (unlike Red Sox fans) has reason to be confident in his club.

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Five things it would've been nice to hear Red Sox ownership say about Mookie Betts trade

Five things it would've been nice to hear Red Sox ownership say about Mookie Betts trade

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After listening to Red Sox ownership wax sentimental about Stan Musial, long for just one more peek at Mookie Betts' dreamy smile, and remind fans that $99 tier five family packs are available right now, so get 'em before they're gone, I found myself wishing they could've demonstrated a little more humility and candor on Monday morning.

In truth, they had little chance of satisfactorily defending a move most fans consider indefensible. But had we the opportunity to shoot up owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and CEO Sam Kennedy with a little sodium pentothal, here are five things I wish they had said.

1. "This was about the CBT."

If there's a truly head-scratching aspect of the Betts trade, it's ownership's insistence that the media has someone misconstrued the organization's intentions. Even Henry's meandering opening statement, which he billed as "addressing Red Sox fans directly," suggested that reporters have somehow failed the fanbase by noting the obvious truth that the Red Sox wanted to drop the payroll below $208 million to reset their luxury tax penalties this season.

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There are a host of reasons to do so. It protects the team's spot in the draft, it reduces the amount it must pay for exceeding various thresholds, and it positions the club to spend again, a la the Yankees and Dodgers this winter.

But nope. They're still clinging to this defiant notion that the trade was about talent and not clearing the books. OK.

2. "This was a salary dump."

I'm not sure why "salary dump" is such a dirty phrase. In moving half of David Price's remaining $96 million off the books, the Red Sox not only ditched a player who's unlikely to justify his paycheck, but they created the opportunity to replace him with someone younger, and youth is the most valuable currency in today's game.

The Yankees and Dodgers are the two highest-profile examples of big-market teams who slashed payroll in order to build around youth, and it has worked out smashingly for each. The Yankees created the flexibility to sign Gerrit Cole to the largest contract ever given a pitcher, while the Dodgers had room to absorb both Betts and Price. Each team is also coming off 100-win seasons.

Werner was asked why financial flexibility couldn't be a justifiable end in and of itself.

"It can be," he said. "But if we had simply wanted to have a salary dump, there would've been other ways to do that. It wasn't a salary dump. It was to give us flexibility. We could've moved in different directions. We could be sitting here saying Mookie is a member of our team this year. We made a strategic decision for what was in the best interests of the team this year and going forward, that this was a wise trade. We followed Chaim (Bloom's) recommendation, but there would've been other ways to have a salary dump than the path we went forward with."

Werner added it was "hypothetically" true the team could've traded Price alone, but I'm skeptical another club would've eaten half of his remaining money without Betts being attached.

3. "We've mismanaged our payroll."

When the club explained why it fired former president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in September, Henry noted that he knew shortly after the World Series parade that the two men did not share the same vision moving forward. Dombrowski wanted to spend, Henry wanted to cut.

So it's fair to ask why Henry allowed Dombrowski to sign pitchers Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi to contracts totaling more than $200 million last offseason, a question that ownership batted away.

"These decisions, there are a lot of hypotheticals here," Werner said. "We are pleased with the value we got back from the Dodgers. We might not be having this discussion, we might have preceded under different scenarios, but we are where we are based on the proposal that we agreed to."

Based on his injury-riddled 2019, Sale would not have cashed in for $145 million this winter. Based on his injury history, Eovaldi shouldn't have been signed to a $68 million contract based on two strong weeks in the playoffs.

But they were and here we are. The bloated Red Sox payroll cost them Betts as much as anything else.

4. "We've mismanaged our roster."

Band-Aids are how you end up becoming the New York Knicks. At some point, a team must be willing to take a step back, make some hard decisions, and set a course for the future. Throwing money after a top-heavy roster with zero depth might keep the Red Sox in marginally better playoff contention, but it won't address the hard truth that, with or without Betts, they're not a realistic World Series contender.

The once-strong farm system has been pillaged, the back of the roster is a mess, and there's little in the pipeline that suggests hope. The Red Sox need a reset while there's still time to build around the Xander Bogaerts-Rafael Devers-Andrew Benintendi core, but the sooner they start that process, the better.

5. "We're going to spend again."

This is a factual statement that is on the team's side, and yet no one thinks to just come out and say it. Criticize Henry and Co. all you want, but they're not shy about spending. The money they save this year will go right back into the roster, and it shouldn't surprise anyone if they boast the game's highest payroll within a year or two.

So say it! "We're only two years removed from spending more on players than any team in baseball," Henry could've said, "and I want the fans to hear this directly from me: we will spend that much again."

Instead, unfortunately, we got a bunch of sentimentality about Stan the Man, a misleading comparison to Nomar Garciaparra, and an embarrassing plea to buy student tickets for nine bucks. When it comes to getting out of their own way, Red Sox ownership always seems to end up in a heap.

Why J.D. Martinez would have major issue with an MLB video crackdown

Why J.D. Martinez would have major issue with an MLB video crackdown

Major League Baseball is considering significant changes to prevent teams from replicating the 2017 Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.

One of those changes may significantly affect J.D. Martinez.

The Boston Red Sox slugger admitted Monday he heard that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is considering restricting players' access to live video replay during games.

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"I don't deny video can help you perform if you have access to it during the game, but a golfer can't come off the sixth and take a look at his swing," Manfred told ESPN's Karl Ravech over the weekend. " ... We're going to have to live with less access to live video in and around the dugout and clubhouse."

Martinez relies heavily on in-game video to dissect his swing. So, it's safe to say he wouldn't be a fan of these developments.

"To go out there and take all video out and you're not allowed to look at at-bats I think is a little ridiculous," Martinez told reporters Monday in Fort Myers.

"When I was in the minor leagues, Double-A, Triple-A, we had video systems. It's something you grew up with. You go back and check something in your swing and it helps you throughout the game. ... All of a sudden, you take that away? It's a little extreme."

Martinez, who has proclaimed the Red Sox innocent in MLB's investigation into their 2018 club for sign-stealing, also insisted in-game video doesn't help batters steal signs.

"It's kind like you're watching the game live on NESN," Martinez said. "You're watching the game on NESN. Can you steal the signs? It's too hard. It's cutting in and out. There's a guy eating a sausage and they're talking about a guy eating his hot dog, and all of a sudden (there's) the pitch."

Martinez acknowledged why the league would have to take some action based on the extent of the Astros' cheating. But the 32-year-old designated hitter believes in a less drastic solution, like delaying access to video replay by an inning.

Just as long as baseball doesn't take away the tool that's helped him become one of the game's best hitters.

"If you have to delay it, delay it," Martinez said. "Whatever you have to do. But to sit there and take that away? I mean, it's what makes me me.

"I'm a very analytical guy. I like to study my swing. I like to study what my back foot is doing, my elbow, whatever it might be. And there's a lot of guys nowadays that are like that. That's the trend of the game."