SHAZAM! The other shoe drops.
Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate for a one-year rental of Javier Vazquez. I couldn't have asked for a nicer 23rd birthday present. I really like Johnson and Rivera as players, and I'm going to miss them. On the other hand, they'll get to play everyday in Montreal, and can maybe finally develop into the quality players they have the potential to be.
And for the Yankees, of course, this is a coup. If they can resign Pettitte and pull the trigger on the Kevin Brown-for-Jeff Weaver trade, their rotation next year will be: Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez, and Jose Contreras, with John Lieber as a spot-starter. Tell me honestly that you'd rather have Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield, and Scott Sauerbeck as your starting five? Perhaps Boston can sign Bartolo "Fatty" Colon or Kevin "No Game" Millwood and hope to maybe pull into the lead, but for now the Evil Empire has the edge.
But you know what's really going to make me happy? When the Red Sox offense goes into the toilet next year. This is going to happen, no matter how much the Sox fans want to keep their heads buried in the sand. Think about it: Boston was a great offensive team last year, but that had more than a little to do with the fact that virtually their entire offense had career years last year. Manny and Nomar are proven superstars. Johnny Damon is about that good, as are, I believe, Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek. But do any of you Sox fans really believe that Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Todd Walker, and David Ortiz are .300+ BA, 20+ home-run hitters? Of course not. So they're going to fall off, and the Boston lineup is suddenly going to become human again.
Meanwhile, the Yankees offense is going to surge. First of all, they've effectively traded in Nick Johnson for Gary Sheffield. That's clearly an upgrade. But even if they hadn't (or don't: the Sheff deal still isn't completed) they'd be a much better offensive team next year than last year. Because while everyone on the Sox was having a career year last year, a good part of the Yankees lineup was hurt. Jeter, Giambi, and Williams all had serious injury problems that hampered their offensive production. Soriano had a down year. Matsui was just getting used to American baseball. Boone had to switch leagues halfway through the season. Only Posada had a career-best year, and I think that his season, like Varitek's and Nixon's, was a marker of his true ability rather than a one-time fluke.
In short: Yanks regain the pitching edge. Boston offense stumbles back to Earth, New York offense leads the league. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth in New England. And the Fox simply smiles....