When you consider the September swoon of the Boston Red Sox, who have already seen great flux in terms of turnover since their season ended just last week, and last nights Yankees loss, there is a lot to digest. You can't help but be happy to see these two clubs, worth over 3 billion dollars in terms of club value and with payrolls close to 400 million dollars annually between the two of them, both failed to reach the ALCS, with the Red Sox not even able to reach the post-season.
If you had told me that neither of the Yankees or Red Sox clubs would be in the ALCS back in May, I would have challenged you to put some money behind those comments - and I'm not even a betting man. However, baseball is a fickle sport and even the best teams on paper have to go through the same 162 games as everyone else, and yes, the best laid plans of mice and men are often prone to failure...
There is a direct side-effect that the stinging losses suffered by these two teams in September and October will create, that in the aftermath of failing to live up the the fairly large expectations that exist in Yankees and Red Sox nations the only thing that either club can do is once again commit large dollars this off-season to fill in what they consider gaps in their rosters. This is bad news for clubs like Toronto, Chicago, Minnesota and other mid-placed teams in the AL who are also looking to fill key positions this off-season.
For example, take pitching. This was clearly a weak spot for the Red Sox, as we all know the rumours they were trying to trade for a pitcher in the last week of the season due to injuries, fatigue and personal issues effecting their pitchers. The Yankees were looking at their pitchers for weeks running up to the Playoffs wondering just how they were going to piece together their rotation to compete - a difficult contemplation when you have wild-baller AJ Burnett in the mix to go along with a bunch of mangled veteran arms.
This means one thing: The Red Sox and the Yankees are going to be hot to trot on the free agent market for pitchers this off-season. This will create difficulties for small and mid-market teams who may try to compete against both Evil Empire teams, who we can expect will make large-scale offers to the likes of Mark Buerhle, CJ Wilson and Yu Darvish, whom the Blue Jays are rumored to be interested in. There are several other pitchers that may come into the cross-hairs of the Red Sox and the Yankees, and the only thing this will do is push up the cost for other teams interesting in trying to acquire these free agents.
Although I believe the Red Sox are somewhat "set" in terms of their offense, we shouldn't be surprised to see the Yankees try to go after a big-name bat this off-season as well, especially after they were only able to squeeze out 1 single run in their game 5 against Detroit. Yankees fans expect better, and even though the likes of Granderson, Cano and Texeira all produced heavy numbers with their bats in 2011, Yankees fans will forget this all and only remember the 1 single run from Game 5 against the Tigers, and will likely be calling for more additions to the arsenal of firepower already present in the Yankee line-up. Do not be surprised to see the Yankees go after Jose Reyes or another big name.
The bottom line: The Red Sox will try to acquire top-line pitchers to compensate for their late-season woes, and the Yankees will be looking for pitching also, in addition to another bat. This will make things difficult for other teams trying to compete against the Evil Empires and for the Jays, likely means that the Trade route will now become the sole option for AA to be able to add either pitching or hitting to his club this off-season.