The Great GameDay Debate: Which Franchise Is Better Set For Success Now And Future, Yankees Or Red Sox?

March 15, 2017

 

 When it comes to comparing and debating rivalries, it doesn't get any bigger or more contentious than discussing New York sports against Boston sports. From Yankees-Red Sox to Jets-Patriots to Knicks-Celtics and more, there is plenty of antagonistic viewpoints for those fan bases to go to proverbial war with. With that known, there is only one way we could start our Great GameDay Debate feature, and that's with a Yankees fan going head-to-head with a Red Sox fan, ranting on which franchise is better set for the now and well into the future.

THE SUBJECT

Yankees vs. Red Sox: Which franchise is in better shape overall?

THE COMBATANTS

Brad Carroll: Life-long Yankees fan who was at the Stadium for Game 7 of the ALCS against the Red Sox in 2003 and Game 5 of the 2001 World Series against the Diamondbacks, two of the most exciting games in franchise history. He will be debating wearing a Graig Nettles No. 9 Yankees T-shirt.

Matt Straub: Life-long Red Sox fan who was at Fenway Park for Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, which was the day the Yankees’ dynasty died, and Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS, the night David Ortiz knocked Torii Hunter over the wall and made sure 2013 would never be forgotten. He’s debating wearing his Pablo Sandoval shirt, which he still doesn’t regret buying. 

NOW, THE GREAT GAMEDAY DEBATE

Brad Carroll: It's admittedly a strange time to be a Yankees fan. For the first time since I was a kid, when, shockingly enough for our younger readers, the Yankees were terrible, winning a World Series isn't the one and only goal. This year's version of the Bronx Bombers, now Baby Bombers, is completely different than those past teams, however. With most of the bad contracts and players out of the way (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran), fans can finally turn the page on what has been a direction-less franchise since last winning the title back in 2009 and see what a bright future lies ahead. The future and the Yankees have never been synonymous, but take it from a fan who has been through it all, this is an exciting time to root for the Bombers. As for the evil Red Sox, I understand those fans are excited for a chance to win a World Series this year, and maybe even next, but I don't believe there's a shadow of a doubt the better franchise, from the minor leagues on up, resides in the Bronx right now. I don't, however, expect Mr. Straub to agree.

Matt Straub: First off, I'm shocked to hear a Yankees fan say anything other than "we have to win now or I want everyone fired." Mr. Steinbrenner would be rolling over in his grave if he knew the Yankees were thinking about anything but a championship. Even more shocking, I like what the Yankees are doing. They have put themselves in a solid position for the future. Their position, however, is nowhere near as strong as where Dave Dombrowski has the Red Sox. The Yankees have a bunch of good prospects, but prospects and young stars are different things. The Yankees have players who could someday be Hall of Famers, but the Red Sox have young players who are already great. The Baby Bombers have chances to be special. Mookie Betts already is. Xander Bogaerts is a star right now. Both will be with Boston for years and for relatively cheap deals. Boston also has one of the top prospects in baseball ready to play a full season in Andrew Benintendi. New York has a stacked farm system. Boston's major league roster is stacked. 

Carroll: Expectations of Yankees fans never fall short of a World Series title. I'm pinning my hopes on the Yankees winning it all this coming year, as always. And the "fire everyone" mantra still stands if they don't win, but more so because I don't want Joe Girardi managing this team anymore, and never wanted him in the first place, but that's a debate for another time. What all Yankees fans are pinning their hopes on is a resurrection of not only a one-year championship season, which is something Red Sox fans have settled for, with championship seasons followed by disasters, but a rebuilt dynasty. That's what the current foundation could turn into. If it does, and not every prospect needs to pan out for it to happen, the Yankees will once again be picked to win more than 95 games a season and be consistent World Series contenders. The Red Sox have some young talent, with the three players Matt mentioned, but they are also throwing money at talent that hasn't exactly lived up to lofty expectations. David Price being the prime example. And, there's no more Big Papi, the heart and soul of the team, carrying the offense. The Red Sox have the better team this year on paper, but the same will not be said in the near future.

Straub: I hope Yankees fans are patient with this group, for your sake. If the fans shun this team, the organization will go back to signing big, old, washed-up names and set itself back years. The best thing the fans can do is let the team grow over time. In fact, yes, please Yankees fans, stay away from the Stadium this year and don't watch YES. I'd appreciate it!

Carroll: I'm laughing on the inside, of course, but there's no way Yankees fans are going to shun this team. Sorry to burst that bubble, Matt. 

Straub: You're right about the Red Sox having a roller coaster of a decade, but Dombrowski's arrival has stabilized things. For years, Boston didn't have a plan, but now they're stealing a page from the book of a previous Yankees' regime. Remember when George was out of the picture and the Yankees horded good, young players? They then surrounded that group with veterans to fill holes, primarily in the pitching staff, and won a bunch of World Series titles? That's exactly what the Sox have done. They're letting the good young talent grow, while filling holes with veterans to help them win at the same time. I'm not certain the plan will work, but it's a great strategy. You're right about Price. I ripped that move from the start. The jury is still out on Sandoval, though I think he's going to have a big bounce-back year. But Boston's position is so good right now it allows for some mistakes because the kids are playing for peanuts. Losing Ortiz hurts, but Boston's rotation is better and the bullpen has a chance to be great, meaning the Sox won't have to replace all of Ortiz's offense. The Yanks are a threat to win 100 games in a couple of years, but the Red Sox are there now, which is why they're in better shape. That will be the case for years to come, since Boston will be able to spend to keep their young stars around, much like the Yankees of the 1990s did, and there’s still some options in the minors. The Red Sox are in front of the Yankees and set up to have every resource at their disposal to stay there in the future. But don't worry, Yankee Universe. That's what the Wild Card is for.

Carroll: I'm surprised a Red Sox booster actually admitted on the record the team has every resource at their disposal, considering, of course, the Yankees are the Evil Empire with all of these perceived advantages. But that's what you get when an ownership group is both intimidated and jealous of another. The Red Sox have paid huge money to Sandoval, Price, Rick Porcello (who shouldn't have won the Cy Young last year) and Chris Sale to go along with their young stars, but what Matt is missing, is that's not exactly how the Yankees built their dynasty. It's actually how it came to an end. Look at the rosters of the dynasty teams and you won't find a roster littered with high-priced free agents. You will find players who fit perfectly, from Paul O'Neill to Tino Martinez to the Core Four. It was when the Yankees started adding guys like Jason Giambi that things started to unravel. The Yankees have won just one title since 2000 doing business that way, and it took all the way to 2016 to begin to fix it. The Red Sox, if they continue to throw money at free agents, could suffer the same fate that caught up to the Yankees, without all the world titles to look back on.

Straub: Those comments absolutely came from jealousy. But now it's the Yankees who should be jealous. I think Panda has a nice year in 2017, however, and Porcello was awfully good last year, no matter where you had him in your Cy Young vote. Price is 31, still too early to have seen an injury coming. Chris Sale is 27. Porcello is 28. It's unfair to compare those signings to some of the older players New York signed when they were past their dynastic years. And by the way, when the Yankees signed Giambi he was 31 and finished fifth in the MVP vote in his first year. New York's problem was keeping him until he was 38, not signing him at 31. I was comparing the recent signings to the 1996 Yanks, which started five players over the age of 30. You need both young and veteran talent on a good team. People forget Mariano Duncan hit .340 in 1996. And didn't Jim Leyritz win a game in the World Series with a homer that year?

Carroll: I mentioned just a few who fit perfectly during the dynasty years, but you can add Duncan ("we play today, we win today"), Leyrtiz and Scott Brosius as well. As for Giambi, the Yankees didn't win a world title with him (2002-2008). He represented a change in philosophy that did not work. Just look at Giambi's lack of a ring to prove it. Baseball isn't football, though, so saying signing Giambi at 31 was correct, but keeping him until 38 wasn't, doesn't work. You can't have one without the other.

Straub: Price was an awful move. Pedroia will have to be replaced eventually, but Boston will have the money because of how little it pays its offensive stars. The other thing having Sale and Porcello does for Boston is allow time to develop young pitchers. By the time the young hitters will get paid huge money, the older pitchers will be closer to the end of their deals. They can eventually either then be replaced or traded (if still effective) for young talent because their deals will be more palatable by then. Speaking of the changing financial structure of the game, despite what the media tries to tell you about baseball dying, revenues continue to soar. Price won't be the highest-paid pitcher three years from now. He'll never be a bargain, but his deal might not be as big a burden by the time he's done. And even if Boston's free agents get old, that's probably three or four years away. If Boston makes that title advantage 5-2 in this century while giving itself time to replenish the talent level when the veterans are done, they would be on the way to a dynasty. I'm not saying it will all pan out, but they are set up to be a contender for the next five years and maybe longer, with avenues to extend the run. They couldn't be in better position.

Carroll: Matt, if the Red Sox add another pair of titles over the next five years, with the Yankees winning none, I'd give you this debate win automatically. But I don't believe it's going to happen. Remember, this century, it's still just Boston 3, New York 2 in world titles. I believe most fans would have guessed the margin would have been bigger, especially considering how much Boston is picked to win it all over the past several seasons. I will bring this debate back to the core of why I believe the Yankees are better set as a franchise, both now and in the future: huge prospects Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Jorge Mateo, Albert Abreu and Blake Rutherford, to go along with current young stars Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, Michael Pineda (he needs to prove himself this year), Dellin Betances and Luis Severino. Now, that is one heck of a foundation. I'm not saying the Yankees have no flaws, though, as they need to improve their starting pitching. But, man, that is one heck of a group of potential standouts, to the point where if even half of them turn into everyday players, the Yankees are set on offense for a decade. I'd rather have that group than deal with the big money deals Boston has dealt out recently, without winning championships.
  
Straub: The recent Boston signings don’t exactly fit either category. They aren't "glue guys" like Duncan, but they certainly aren't past their prime. And the timing makes it possible to have a new wave whenever required, either through young players coming up or new signings. Boston isn't building around the veterans, they're using the veterans to aid what they have, in the spirit of the old Yankees. I totally get where you're coming from on young talent vs. big-name acquisitions, but ask the Minnesota Twins what having a stocked farm system can lead to. Sometimes your farm system gives you Jeter, Bernie, Pettitte and Mariano, sometimes it gives you Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer. The uncertainty which lies ahead for the Yankees is why Boston is in a better spot. The Red Sox know what they have, and a lot of it is fantastic. Oh, and by the way, if the Yankees do hit on the young guys, they'll have to pay them all someday as well. Perhaps the biggest decision they must make is who they keep and who they trade to get the pitcher you mentioned. They also must decide how long a leash each prospect gets. Remember, we're coming up on a free agent class led by Harper and Machado in another year. Talk about young stars! Which direction do you take with them? 

Carroll: The thing with Harper and Machado is they are both players the Yankees could upgrade at positions currently manned by overpriced players, either Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner and Chase Headley. So, replacing those bad contracts with new ones for much better players would be fine with me. Of course, getting out of those contracts isn't easy. Ellsbury has four more years (why they signed him I'll never know), Gardner has three and Headley has two. If the Yankees don't figure something out with at least one of those players I don't believe they will go after those type players. But if things go according to plan with the prospects, they won't have to. And that's a powerful position to be in. Yes, the Red Sox are set to win now, and there's nothing bad about that. They also believe they are set to win in the future, and they should be. But I don't have any doubt the Yankees will be right there with them starting next season talent-wise, especially if they pick up a No. 2 starting pitcher behind Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees also have a winning pedigree. The Red Sox's failure rate as huge favorites is high. The Yankees, who I believe will at least challenge for a wild card spot this year, are a team on the rise with the possibility of creating something special. It's probably different in Boston, but I don't see the same type of special out of that organization.

Straub: Harper and Machado would also be the same type of young talent Boston got with Sale, but with much less chance of injury because they're not pitchers. The Yankees have as many options going forward as the Red Sox, which means they are in great shape. Boston is just farther along in the process, which is why I think the Sox are in a better spot. Being free of CC at some point will help as well, and I still think they could trade Gardner. New York's farm system is better right now, but Boston has more ready-made talent. And the best part? Their two best young players are the same age as Harper and Machado, and cost a lot less. As for the Yankees being more used to winning, the argument doesn't apply to this group. The Core Four will be in the Hall of Fame before the current group is in the World Series, and won't be there to teach the young guys how to win. That takes time, which is what happened to Boston last year. The Red Sox are even ahead of the Yankees in that respect. They should be over the playoff jitters now. The Yankees are close, but by the time they're ready to win it all, Boston could have two more parades and be set up for more. They're clearly in a more advanced, better place than New York.

Carroll: As always, Matt makes a strong case, and it's why he's the perfect guy to go one-on-one with. I don't disagree the Red Sox are clearly in a more advanced place right now. And with Boston already building young stars, and adding a clear ace in Sale, they have a big head start. Gigantic even. But the debate isn't about which team is more likely to win a title this year, it's more about the future. And with that, I still can't budge off my stance the Yankees are the team I'd want to tackle the next five or so years with. And it has everything to do with a youth movement that is unlike anything the franchise has done before. Yes, you're absolutely right there will be no one to show those guys how to win titles, but it's not like the Core Four had that either. Guys like O'Neill and Martinez led the way, but it wasn't like they were all champions on their own. They all went through it together, to varying degrees. But there's no guarantees, and the Yankees may never develop a dynasty again. Heck, it would be a huge upset if the Yankees did recreate a dynasty. Every single prospect the Yankees have could flame out quicker than Brien Taylor. But there's something special going on with the Yankees, and having guys like Sanchez, Bird and Judge hopefully all being full time players this year, plus the growing list of players on the horizon (how can you not be excited about Torres and Frazier?) I'd take this team over the Red Sox any day.

THE CONCLUSION

Not surprisingly, two different fans, not to mention a pair of fantastic professional sports writers, are on opposite sides of the argument. We won't pick a winner, instead, we'll leave it up to you. Comment below with your thoughts on the debate, or join the discussion on Twitter (@gamedayishere) and Facebook. We look forward to reading how you see this latest battle of New York vs. Boston.

 

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