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Forecast for Yankees rivalry hot

<p>Now this is a hot stove. An August-in-an-Allston-third-floor-walkup-hot hot stove.</p>

Now this is a hot stove. An August-in-an-Allston-third-floor-walkup-hot hot stove.

It’s not that the Red Sox have started making big moves. It’s that the Red Sox have made a spate of smart moves. And it’s that these moves may not only alter the balance of power in the AL East, but make for some genuinely fascinating baseball in the process.

Back up. The flurry of deals — signing John Lackey, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron and moving (or attempting to move) Mike Lowell — all point to one priority for 2010: run prevention. What’s so thrilling about run prevention? (Aside from Web Gems and complete-game shutouts, that is.)
In this case, the thing that’s especially exciting about Boston’s run prevention strategy is that the archrival Yankees have taken the opposite strategy: They live and die by run production.

New York upended the wise old adage that “pitching and defense win in the postseason” with their 2009 (gulp) World Series victory (blech). And in 2009, the Sox were Yankees lite: big payroll, aging club, dependent on offense. The brass has apparently realized they can’t beat the Bombers at that game, and they’ve gone back to the strategy that was so effective in 2007 and, to a degree, in 2004.

Now that Boston is doubling down on pitching and defense, each Sox-Yanks matchup in 2010 will feature New York trying to smash as many runs as possible and the Red Sox trying to smother them. Two ballclubs, both alike in dignity, in fair Fenway, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny while relying on totally opposite winning strategies. I think this is what we call wicked awesome, Boston.

Even better, neither team is finished making moves yet. What will the Yankees — who currently lack a designated hitter and a left fielder — do? The back of their rotation is also still questionable. So as it stands now, it’s looking like the addition of Curtis Granderson and their reported pursuit of Nick Johnson will make their offense even more potent.

As for the suddenly deal-happy Sox, will they trade for Adrian Gonzalez? Ink a contract with Adrian Beltre? The former would diversify their talent portfolio with some offense; the latter would give them a legitimate shot at having the most air-tight defense in the majors. Or — Option No. 3 — they could whip out another deal as unexpected as the Lackey signing.

– Sarah Green also writes for UmpBump.com. She can be reached at sarah@umpbump.com.

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