Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino set the tone for the 2014 version of the rivalry with the Yankees, criticizing their spending on free agents and saying Boston will not resort to "crazy expenditures that might be commonplace in New York."
Speaking first at the Boston baseball writers dinner Thursday and then to reporters at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday, Lucchino swiped at the Yankees' spending on free agents, including Masahiro Tanaka (seven years, $155 million), former Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million), Brian McCann (five years, $85 million) and Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million).
"We're very different animals. I'm proud of that difference," Lucchino said. "I always cringe when people lump us together. Other baseball teams sometimes do that. They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents. And, uh, I can't say that I wish them well, but I think that we've taken a different approach."
Yankees president Randy Levine quickly responded to Lucchino's remarks, saying from his office: "I feel bad for Larry, because he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees. I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine's plan two years ago, the Red Sox finished in last place. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job in winning the world championship last year, but I'm confident that [Brian Cashman], [Joe Girardi] and our players will compete hard with a great Red Sox team to try and win a world championship this year.''
In December 2002, Lucchino termed the Yankees the "Evil Empire" after the Red Sox were outbid for pitcher Jose Contreras. The Yankees later essentially trademarked the moniker by winning a court ruling.