Conceding the Red Sox are superior is forbidden in these parts, and Randy Levine is staying within the ideals of the Evil Empire.
Even if it means stretching popular opinion.
“I think we’re as good as the Red Sox right now,” the club president said Tuesday morning at the Stadium after introducing Wisconsin-Miami as the next Pinstripe Bowl matchup, set for Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium. “I think they had a better postseason than us, we had a lot of injuries… that divisional series could have gone either way with a couple innings.
“They have a great team and they’re going to be a really great team for a long time, but I think we are as good as they are.”
That the comment came just feet away from the George Steinbrenner Pinstripe Bowl trophy was quite poetic, though “The Boss” would be far from content with just being equal to the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
That, unlike Levine’s declaration, is indisputable.
Regardless, Levine reiterated the club’s mantra this offseason that pitching remains the top priority, even after acquiring James Paxton, in order to top their hated rival along with everyone else.
The Yankees were spurned by their main target Patrick Corbin, who inked a six-year, $140 million deal with the Nationals a few hours after Levine spoke with the media.
A source told The News’ Wallace Matthews that Corbin’s meeting with the Yankees last week “went very well,” though seeing himself photoshopped into pinstripes wasn’t enough to bring the Clay, N.Y. native home. The Bronx Bombers will have to look elsewhere to beef the rotation.
Don’t forget the Yankees aren’t afraid to hop back on a familiar path to knock off the Sox.
“There’s no doubt that if [Cashman] and his baseball people come to [Hal Steinbrenner] and say we need this one piece, that we feel really great about (making us) a championship team, he’ll give it great consideration — even if it comes over the ($206 million) threshold. That’s just the way the Steinbrenners are.”
The Bronx Bombers avoided the luxury tax penalty last season for the first time since the rule’s inception in 2003, but even so, they ranked 6th in payroll at just over $179 million. The Red Sox led the league with a $227 million payroll.
Acquiring one of the two high-profile free agents this offseason in Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, in addition to another pitcher, would likely get the Yankees over the threshold.
Of Machado’s infamous postseason comments that he’s no “Johnny Hustle,” Levine said, “I’ll leave those baseball judgments and character judgments to Cash, to [Aaron Boone] and the baseball staff.”
Meanwhile it’s been reported the Yankees are among several teams that have set up meetings with Harper in his hometown of Las Vegas ahead of the MLB winter meetings there, though Levine said he was unaware of that development.
“Rule nothing out, but Cash and I think (Hal Steinbrenner) have both said pitching is the priority.”