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Hank Steinbrenner on Yankees: We Have to F***ing Win

If you think Hank Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees front office spend all this money to benefit the New York Yankees — think again.  That’s right, they’re doing it for everyone.  Without their financial dominance and perennial winning ways, baseball would be no more.  If that seems to have slipped your mind for any reason, Hank is here to remind you.

“We will do what we have to do to win,” Steinbrenner told Kevin Kernan of the NY Post.  “We have the highest payroll and the reason is we are committed to our fans to win. We just have to f***ing win.”

“Look at the money we are paying out in revenue sharing,” he continued. “We are baseball’s stimulus package. The fans of other teams have no reason to complain about us or the Red Sox or the teams that support the rest of baseball.”

Steinbrenner has a point about revenue sharing, but shouldn’t he say the owners have nothing to complain about, not the fans?  Fans can complain all they want.  Some MLB teams are not making enough money and thus cannot afford astronomical payrolls like the Yankees’ and Red Sox’s.  Other teams have cheap owners who choose to sit on their hands and pocket as much money as possible while putting a horrendous product on the field.

So Hank is somewhat right and somewhat wrong.  Does baseball need teams like the Yankees and Red Sox to survive? Yes. Do the fans of teams whose owners refuse to spend more money even though they have more money to spend have a reason to be upset?  Again, yes.

Jerry Reinsdorf Admits White Sox Reached with Free Agent Signings, Budget

The Chicago White Sox, along with the Detroit Tigers, had a strong off-season in hopes of overtaking the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. They landed Adam Dunn, one of the premier sluggers in the free agent market, with a four-year $56 million contract. The decision to sign Dunn apparently was not an easy one, and according to team owner Jerry Reinsdorf, it led to more signings by the team.

Reinsdorf explained at the team’s SoxFest ’11 event Saturday that the franchise was deciding between two different plans — one where they would cut payroll and go young, and another where they would spend money to try and win. He said “We reached this year. Last year was a difficult year. We weren’t as good as we thought we could be. Our attendance was down. Financially, it came out OK.”

Once the White Sox committed the money to Adam Dunn, it only made sense to bring back Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski who were also free agents. Adding just Dunn without Konerko was essentially pointless, because then the team would be in a similar situation as last year. Hopefully the fans appreciate the direction the ownership took this off-season for Chicago. This also means that they may be likely to unload contracts if they fall out of contention by the All-Star Break.

Reds Locking Up Core Players: Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto Get Extensions

The Cincinnati Reds have been busy signing their (mostly) young talent to multi-year extensions this offseason. In December, pitcher Bronson Arroyo signed a three-year deal that will take him through the age of 36. He’s the only player the Reds extended that’s over the age of 27. Shortly after extending Arroyo, the Reds signed 23-year-old Jay Bruce and 27-year-old and reigning NL MVP Joey Votto to six and three-year deals, respectively. On Thursday, the Reds signed pitcher Johnny Cueto, 25, to a four-year deal and are reportedly pursuing an extension with 27-year-old pitcher Edinson Volquez.

The moves signal that the 2010 NL Central champs are serious about contending for the foreseeable future. Since arriving in Cincinnati in 2006, Arroyo has won at least 14 games four times, including a career-high 17 last season. Arroyo also won a Gold Glove last season. Cueto went 12-7 last season with a respectable 3.64 ERA. Bruce hit 25 home runs last season, though 19 of those came at the Great American Ballpark — about as hitter-friendly a park as you’ll find. The main concern with Bruce is his strikeout numbers; he’s had more than 100 twice in his three major league seasons, and a career-high 136 last year.

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Angels Acquire Vernon Wells From Blue Jays for Mike Napoli, Possibly Juan Rivera

On Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. EST, I was making my blog rounds when I came across a headline that stated the Blue Jays had acquired catcher Mike Napoli in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels.  Big deal, right?  Actually, it is.  What started out as a seemingly minor transaction quickly morphed into one of the most surprising moves of the winter.

Roughly an hour later, Ken Rosenthal reported that one of the names included in the deal was the amazingly overpaid Vernon Wells.  It remains to be seen what type of financial shuffling needed to take place for Toronto to unload Wells, but he is now a member of the Angels.  The Jays will certainly have to eat a significant chunk of the $86 million Wells is owed over the next four seasons.

Napoli was seeking over $6 million in arbitration — a number the Angels were unwilling to play — while Wells waived his no-trade clause to allow the deal to go through.  The center fielder had his best offensive season since 2006 last year when he hit .273 with 31 homers and 88 RBI.  According to Rosenthal, the Angels will likely leave Wells at his natural position and keep Torii Hunter in right.  Juan Rivera may be included in this deal, but if not the Angels will look to trade him elsewhere to free up space.

For this trade to make any sense at all, Toronto will have to eat almost half of Wells’ contract.  Angels fans were holding out hope that the team would sign either Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee, or Adrian Beltre this offseason and the prize they ended up with is arguably the most overpaid player in baseball.  Maybe a change of scenery will be just what the doctor ordered for Wells.  After all, you don’t ink a $20 million per year contract for absolutely no reason.

Andruw Jones Signs with New York Yankees, Pinstripe Moves Unremarkable

The New York Yankees signed outfielder Andrew Jones to a one-year, $2 million deal Thursday, according to the New York Post. Add to that, their signings of veterans Mark Prior and Russell Martin, and you’ll notice that this offseason for the Bombers has not exactly been filled with blockbuster additions. Oh, I almost forgot they also brought in lefty-specialist Pedro Feliciano — huge deal. The only “big name” player the Yanks brought in is set-up man Rafael Soriano, and not everyone in the organizationwas on board with that move.

Offensively, the Yankees added guys who combined to hit .251, with 24 home runs, 74 RBI and 15 stolen bases last season in Martin and Jones. Comparatively, the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Red Sox bring a combined .302 batting average, 50 home runs, 191 RBI and 47 bags from last season. Gonzalez and Crawford each had more RBI individually than Martin and Jones did combined. So while the Yankees brought in two former All-Stars who are far from what they were, the Red Sox brought in two superstars in their prime. This is the type of offseason New Yorkers expected from the Mets, but not the Yankees.

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Brian Cashman to Rafael Soriano: I Didn’t Want You Here

Yankees GM Brian Cashman did not want to bring Rafael Soriano on board as the team’s set-up man for Mariano Rivera.  How do we know that?  Maybe because he said it.  Nothing says “welcome” like a nice, honest “I didn’t want you here.”

New York had to do something.  They watched the arch rival Red Sox overhaul their roster this offseason and invest millions into two of the game’s best young talents.  Meanwhile, the Yankees have one proven front-line starter — C.C. Sabathia — to accompany the erratic A.J. Burnett and talented but raw Phil Hughes.  They’ve even extended a mind-boggling $10 million offer to Carl Pavano, because that worked so well the first time (he ended up re-signing with the Twins).

So Brian Cashman Hal Steinbrenner went out and signed one of the top relievers on the market in Soriano.  According to Hardball Talk, Cashman was very candid about the signing, simply stating that it wasn’t his call.

I didn’t recommend it … I’m charged with obviously winning a championship. I’m charged with building a farm system. I’m charged with getting the payroll down, and this certainly will help us try to win a championship. There’s no doubt about that, so that’s in the plus column, but I didn’t recommend it, just because I didn’t think it was an efficient way to allocate the remaining resources we have, and we had a lot of debate about that … My plan would be patience and waiting. They obviously acted. And we are better, there’s no doubt about it.”

In other words: welcome to the Bronx, Soriano.  If I had my way, you wouldn’t be here.

Prince Fielder Gets $15.5 Million, Will Make Killing in Free Agency

If you’re Prince Fielder, Tuesday marked a time to rejoice. If you’re a Milwaukee Brewers fan, today is a time to remind you to start preparing for a future that does not involve the young slugger.

The Brewers and Fielder avoided the song-and-dance of arbitration by agreeing to a one-year $15.5 million contract for the upcoming season. What this means — other than the fact that Prince is now filthy rich — is that Fielder’s future earnings will be astronomical. Fielder made $18 million combined his first two arbitration years and now is pulling in $15.5 mil. That’s not a bad figure considering he’s coming off a down season where he batted .261 with 32 home runs, 83 RBIs, and an .871. This is far removed from his most productive seasons in 2007 and 2009, where he posted a 1.013 and 1.014 OPS respectively, clubbing 50 and 46 home runs.

The rising salaries for Prince despite the down year means the Brewers will have no chance at re-signing him. Even with another average season like 2010, the Brewers will NEVER be able to afford Prince. Given the high salary Fielder will command on the open market, it’s likely that the team will try to trade him, but that’s no certainty.

By acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the off-season, Milwaukee has made a commitment to winning now. As long as they’re winning and Prince is playing well, expect them to hang onto the slugger and to settle for the compensatory pick they’ll receive for losing a Type-A free agent in the off-season. And if the season doesn’t go as planned, expect Prince to be a goner shortly after the All-Star break.