(Title an homage to the late, great George Carlin)
Joel Sherman has a new piece up, selling us all on the new, fiscally conservative Yankees. The same Yankees that are so tight with a buck that they just spent 400+ mil this past off season, and gave 300 mil to A-Rod alone the previous year. You know how the story goes, right? Hal is the new owner, he’s no George and they’re just not going to spend like they used to. Here’s his ‘rationale’:
In the offseason, Hal did permit Cashman to stray outside of the initial plan of signing two starters (CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett) to also snag Teixeira. But the ownership message at that time was that enlisting Teixeira meant no more goodies for a while, and sources say nothing has changed in that policy.
In fact, ownership has become more hardened against adding substantial payroll because the global economic downturn has hit the Yankees’ slice of The Bronx, too. For example, the Yankees had to slash their high-end seat prices due to lack of interest, they have had a bunch of mega-corporations that had agreed to do major business back away, and they are staring at a massive debt service from paying to build the new Yankee Stadium.
Just in the past month, the Yankees have demonstrated a frugality not familiar under The Boss. They insisted the small-market Pirates eat half of Eric Hinske’s contract or there would be no trade.
Also, the Yankees scouting department delineated catcher Gary Sanchez and infielder Miguel Angel Sano as by far the best youngsters available in the July Latin American market. The Yankees had failed to sign their first-round draft pick last year (Gerrit Cole) and did not have second- and third-round picks this year due to signing free agents. In the past, they would have compensated by signing both Sanchez and Sano. Instead, ownership told baseball operations one or the other, and the Yankees signed Sanchez.
Where to start. On Hinske, has he ever heard of a fellow named Alex Rodriguez? He might recall the old, free spending Yankees under George Steinbrenner insisted on the Texas Rangers picking up 1/3 of his 250 mil deal. The Free agent market turned downward after Alex signed (Hicks bid against himself to obtain Alex, so he was overpriced in any market) and Brian Cashman insisted Texas take Alex’s salary down to market levels in order to make a deal. Cashman also insisted the Phillies throw in Cory Lidle in order to take the overpaid Bobby Abreu in 2006, in a deal where he gave nothing back in terms of talent. And when the Yanks sent Randy Johnson back to Arizona in January of 2007, Cashman steadfastly refused to pick up a dime of his salary, opting to take a lesser package in terms of talent. Maybe Joel was just born yesterday, but some of us know the way Cashman operates and always has. He never pays more than market value for a player’s services, whether they are named A-Rod, Abreu or Eric Hinske. The Yankees asking the Pirates to pick up half of Hinske’s deal is proof of nothing, other than an ordinary negotiation between two clubs. The Pirates probably wanted a higher grade of prospect in return, so the Yanks told them to pick up some cash.
As far as Sano goes, he still remains unsigned and there are persistent questions about his age. The Yanks worked him out and said very little after, leaving the impression they weren’t overly impressed. Again, evidence of nothing. About the Yanks losing all sorts of sponsors and failing to sell the high end seats, that is partially true. But even the most pessimistic revenue estimates had the Yankees receipts going up dramatically from the old building, by at least 100 million dollars annually. The debt service and new stadium operating costs are deductable from revenue sharing payments, so the Yanks not have that additional revenue, but get to deduct roughly 95 mil in revenue sharing payments to the league. So not only do they make more, but they keep more of it. The new Yankee stadium is a bonanza, no matter how you slice it.
If I was in the Yankee brass, and wanted the word to be spread that the Yanks can’t afford something (to drive down the market) Joel is the first guy I’d call. Being the Mets fan that he is, he falls for it every time. Joel was selling everyone the same story in the off season on Teixeira, and we all know what happened next. It fits in with his worldview, seeing the Yankees through Fred Wilpon colored glasses. He doesn’t realize that this is simply good negotiating tactics by Cashman, who knows that if they jump in to the bidding on Halladay, the Red Sox will start driving up the price the very next day. Better to sit back, let the market set the price, and then jump in at the last minute. I’m not telling you Halladay will certainly be a Yankee. Ricchardi may very well prefer to send him to the NL and/or Cash may decide at the last minute that the price is too high, and decide to pass. But there is NO point in jumping in now, and its actually counter-productive. There is however, a reason to tell the Joel Shermans of the world that you’re out of the bidding, knowing Joel will gleefully run with it every time.
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