So, now the Red Sox have added Adrian Beltre, a massive defensive upgrade over Mike Lowell. He should be healthy a lot more than you'd expect Lowell to be, and they hope that his power plays well in Fenway Park.
For essentially the same price as Jason Bay, the Red Sox have managed to add Beltre and Mike Cameron, giving them one of the better defensive teams in all of baseball. They also added a solid pitcher in John Lackey, and got themselves a shortstop coming off a great year in Marco Scutaro.
Of course, we know that the Yankees haven't stayed quiet either, adding Curtis Granderson, who should put up big homerun totals in Yankee Stadium as well as giving them good defense and a fair bit of speed, Nick Johnson and a very solid pitcher as well in Javier Vazquez.
While many prematurely counted the Red Sox out in 2010 after their early exit from the playoffs, they've made a bunch of smart moves that put them right back at the top of the pack. So who should we favor in the AL East come 2010?
This may be unscientific, but I went about trying to solve this in a pretty simple manner. Lining up their starting lineups, pitching rotation and closers, and comparing the players at each position to get a tally of the number of superior players over the other teams counter. I considered Jacoby Ellsbury as the Red Sox left fielder with Cameron manning center field. I ignored fifth starters, since we don't know who they'll be yet, and even if we did, they would probably pretty even with young, high potential pitchers.
So with 14 positions to compare (9 offensive, a closer and four starters) the Red Sox won at positions manned by: Victor Martinez (C), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Jacoby Ellsbury (LF), JD Drew (RF), David Ortiz (DH), Josh Beckett (#2 Starter) and John Lackey (#3). The Yankees in turn were given the advantage with: Mark Texeira (1B), Derek Jeter (SS), Alex Rodriguez (3B), Curtis Granderson (CF), CC Sabathia (#1), Javier Vazquez (#4), and Mariano Rivera (Closer). If you bothered to count that up, that gave the Red Sox the win at 7 positions, and the Yankees the win at the other 7.
So what does this mean? It depends. It could mean that my measure of team quality is completely pointless because it doesn't matter which team is just better at each position, it matters how much they're better. But if you play along, it means that these teams are pretty freakin' close in talent heading into 2010.
Of course, the off-season isn't over yet. The Yankees may look for an upgrade over Brett Gardner at left field, though it would take a significant upgrade to give them a true advantage over Jacoby Ellsbury. The difference could be made in the bullpen, but just with a quick glance, its hard to give either team a real advantage in that area.
It could come down to injuries, hot streaks, or just luck of run distribution. However it turns out, it seems like the AL East race in 2010 will be an incredibly exciting ride. And hey... what if the Rays have another run where it falls together for them like it did in 2008?