A post-Teixeira, pre-Christmas look at the winter's winners and losers:
1. Yankees. Who else? They got the best pitcher. Maybe the two best pitchers. They got the big-prize hitter, too. They ruined Boston's winter. Yes, they have more money than anyone else. But this winter, the Yankees also seem to have had the best strategy. Their huge early bid for Sabathia seemed to work just as intended, scaring off any potential competition. The decision to offer an opt-out clause helped eliminate any anxiety Sabathia and his wife felt about moving to New York. Then, after going public with their desire to sign Sabathia, the Yankees hid in the background in the Teixeira talks, seeming to know that they could always get their man in the end.
2. Mets. The Wilpon family may not feel like winners, after reportedly losing hundreds of millions in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. But their team is a winner, for getting Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz in the bullpen. Not only that, but the Mets could be seeing the Derek Lowe market come back to them, once again allowing them to make a play for the starting pitcher they identified as their top choice. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that their old rival in Atlanta is having a horrid winter.
3. Phillies. It wasn't flashy, but the world champs did pretty much what they needed to. They re-signed Jamie Moyer, and they replaced Pat Burrell with Raul Ibanez. The negative is that Chase Utley needed surgery and will miss the start of the season, and the Phils tried but failed to get Mark DeRosa from the Cubs to fill in for him.
4. Dodgers. They got the left side of their infield back, by re-signing Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal. They proved to all the doubters that owner Frank McCourt does have a little bit of money. And if McCourt truly wants to bring back Manny Ramirez (and if he can afford it), Ramirez now seems more available to them than ever. One more thing: in star-crazy Southern California, it doesn't hurt the Dodgers that their neighbors in Anaheim failed to sign a free-agent star.
5. Scott Boras. He still has a slew of clients left needing jobs, but when Boras got Mark Teixeira the eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees, he also proved a point. The Red Sox may have thought they were calling his bluff with owner John Henry's dramatic late-night e-mail last week, but Boras proved it was no bluff.
1. Red Sox. They can moan all they want about how hard it is to compete with the big-dollar Yanks, but as Tony Massarotti astutely pointed out on his Boston Globe blog, the Sox lost out on Teixeira for less than $2 million a year, or roughly 1-2 percent of their 2008 payroll. They simply miscalculated, thinking the Yankees weren't getting involved. It's not a fatal mistake. The Red Sox still have a fine team, and they have plenty of money available to make it even finer. But Teixeira was the one player that the Sox themselves identified as the key to their winter. They didn't get him, and the Yankees did. For Boston, it doesn't get much worse.
2. Braves. Let's see, they didn't get Jake Peavy, and they didn't get A.J. Burnett, and they didn't get Furcal. Oh, and you might have noticed that two of their division rivals are listed among the winners. Worse yet for an organization that has prided itself on professionalism, the Peavy and Furcal negotiations ended angrily, and in public.
3. Angels. It hardly matters now whether they preferred Teixeira or Sabathia, because they didn't get either one. While they're still overwhelming favorites in the American League West, the Angels want to be a team that can compete with the Yankees and the Red Sox when it matters. They traded for Teixeira last July because they thought he could deliver a World Series. He didn't, and now he's gone.
4. Orioles. Teixeira grew up in Maryland. Burnett lives there. The Orioles never became a serious contender for either one. They'll see both on Opening Day at Camden Yards, but only because the Yankees will be the opponents that day.
5. The WBC. The problem isn't that Alex Rodriguez has changed his mind and now wants to play for the Dominican Republic. The problem is that when the richest player in the game spurned Team USA, no one here cared. The second edition of the world tourney is still three months away, and already far too many players are bowing out. I love the concept of a baseball world cup. In practice, it's not working out too well.