Yankees are very expensive 'underdogs'

REUTERS

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

The New York Yankees are $200 million underdogs in the eyes of handicappers picking the Boston Red Sox to be World Series champions this season, and that has lit a fire under some of the Bronx Bombers.

"Maybe we can sneak up on somebody," pitcher CC Sabathia told reporters at his locker Wednesday on the eve of his start in New York's Opening Day game against the Detroit Tigers.

"I find it kind of crazy what I hear, after what we've done," said the big left-hander, who helped the Yankees win the 2009 World Series and reach last year's American League championship.

Boston went on a stunning off-season shopping spree that made them a popular pick to leapfrog the Yankees.

They snapped up speedy free agent outfielder Carl Crawford for seven years at $142 million, then traded prospects to San Diego for slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who will also command over $20 million a year for a pact they still are negotiating.

The usually free-spending Yankees were quiet as mice by comparison but could be laying in ambush.

Said outfielder Nick Swisher: "I think that's the greatest thing ever, so when we do it we can prove them all wrong."

Power-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira, who spurned the Red Sox to sign an eight-year $180 million Yankees deal before the 2009 campaign, said this spring: "We're the underdogs this year. I love it. No one is picking us right now."

Manager Joe Girardi knows the pressure of leading a team with an MLB record 27 World Series crowns and was bemused about the rallying cry against the Red Sox, whose $160 million budget will grow much closer to New York's after signing Gonzalez.

"This is a motivated group on a daily basis anyway," Girardi said. "I haven't really heard any talk from our guys about not being favored to win, or being the underdogs.

"(But) That's not a bad thing," he said about being snubbed by prognosticators.

"Maybe you don't have as much attention drawn to your club during spring training. Maybe guys don't feel the weight of the expectations so much. Sometimes when you're the underdog you go under the radar a little bit."

Yet Girardi, a catcher on Yankee teams that began a run of success with a World Series title in 1996 and four more crowns and two other trips to the Fall Classic since, acknowledged his pinstriped squad would not go overlooked.

"I don't think we're going to sneak up on anyone," he said. "People are always pretty excited when we come into town."


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