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If You’re the Yankees and You Can Do it, Why Wouldn’t You?

Before free agency began, in a pool with some friends, I had predicted the Yankees would sign CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. The reasoning? If they can do it, why not? While shedding payroll this offseason, the Yankees sure have stepped up and added on some serious contracts. Should they sign one or two more players before the season starts, the Yankees would be close to committing a half billion dollars to players in one off season. It’s crazy when you think about that type of money. Then again, it’s no surprise that the Yankees have thrown this much money around.

I joked a few months ago that Hank Steinbrenner wanted to file a grievance against the Brewers for abusing the arm of their guy (Sabathia had about four straight starts on three days of rest, throwing complete games mostly). I wasn’t far off from the truth. With the way the team performed — missing out on the playoffs to the Rays and Red Sox — you knew they would spend wildly to make up for the embarrassment. They have not disappointed. Really, if they had just pulled the trigger on the Johan Santana trade last off-season and none of this would be happening. But they didn’t, and this is the result. I really only think the Burnett contract was bad because I don’t think he’ll produce in the Bronx. Sabathia they may only wind up paying for three years if he opts out and you can’t knock a team for locking up the top pitcher on the market. And if you have the cash for Teixeira, why not buy him? It’s a leg up on the Red Sox and Angels, and he’s a good ballplayer. I’d say signing Derek Lowe would cap off the incredible offseason for the Yanks.

Imagine how much fun it is to be Joe Girardi and to have all these new toys to play with for Christmas? The signings don’t make the Yankees unbeatable but it makes them much tougher. Injuries can still easily do a number on them like last year and keep them out of the playoffs, but don’t bet on it. Why not just sign another starting pitcher as an insurance policy? If you’re the Yankees and you can do it, then why not?

Writer Encouraging Free Agent Doom for the Yankees with A.J. Burnett

Look, the Yankees already do a good enough job screwing up their team via free agency without needing help from outsiders. Think Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright for starters. Last year, the front office listened to the writers who suggested they start rebuilding their farm system and stay away from signings that plagued them in the past. So what happened? They decided not to trade the likes of Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera to the Twins for Johan Santana and they missed the playoffs for the first time since Brian Cashman had hair. Now they’re going back to their old ways and will use that Johan money on CC (who’s a worse investment in my opinion). And they’re not going to stop there; they’re going for Burnett, Lowe, Teixeira, and Manny. Heck, their only constraint is a 25-man roster. Apparently they haven’t learned the lesson that spending isn’t the answer — spending wisely is. I don’t think A.J. Burnett is a good investment, but some media members do. Take venerable front office man George A. King III of the New York Post:

Burnett, 32 in January, went 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA for the Blue Jays this past season before opting out of the final two seasons, leaving $24 million on the table.

Coming off a career-high in victories, the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is easily the second-best pitcher on the free-agent market behind Sabathia, so $15 million to $16 million a season for four or five years isn’t out of the question.

OK, let’s examine a few things here: 32 in January — fact. 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA for the Blue Jays — fact. Opting out of the contract — fact. 6’5″ 230-pounder vital stats — fact. Easily the second-best pitcher on the free-agent market? Are you kidding me? Says who, you? What makes Burnett the second-best pitcher on the market? If anything, replace “easily” with “arguably” or “potentially” and I’m fine with it. Even still, I’d rather invest my money in Derek Lowe or Ben Sheets, thus making Burnett the fourth-best pitcher on the market. To me, this is the difference between spending and spending wisely. Dropping $80mil on Burnett isn’t a wise investment. But according to baseball scout and stat guru George King, it is. So now that gets everyone who reads the Post and follows the Yankees thinking this is a no-brainer. Let me ask this: in four years when the Yankees are in danger of missing the playoffs and people are bitching about the $18mil a year they’re paying Burnett, is King going to be there to say he was a great signing, or is he going to criticize the team for their free-spending ways? The Yankees need to be cautious not reckless. And the media sure isn’t helping the cause here.

Mark Teixeira Just Another A-Rod Clone?

One of the big stories that will loom over the baseball offseason is where Mark Teixeira will sign. He’s arguably the biggest free agent position player on the market, so his departure from the Angels to another team will certainly swing a balance of power — literally and figuratively. While there’s no denying that Tex is one of the premier first baseman in the majors, he’s not as good over the course of a season as he was in the half-seasons once he was traded to the Angels and Braves in the last two years. For that matter, only Albert Pujols is capable of producing at that rate over the course of 162 games — Teixeira is one of the few players capable of producing that well over a 50-game span. Numbers aside, the Angels figure to make a big push to retain Teixeira, and the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles all figure to get into the bidding (the Yankees being the most prominent suitor). Though Teixeira appears to be an ideal replacement for Jason Giambi in the Bronx, his signing would be met with mixed reviews according to some. Apparently Teixeira really resembles Alex Rodriguez in many undesirable ways:

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YES Network Letting Announcers Criticize the Yankees

When you’re running out a pitching staff that includes the likes of Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson, you can’t be very good. To be fair, with all the injuries the Yankees have had, they’ve become a shadow of what they have been every other year they’ve made the playoffs. Wang, Hughes, Joba, A-Rod, Posada, Damon, and Matsui have all spent time on the D.L. this year — that’s one heck of an All-Star team right there. Anyway, I’m assuming the 12-1 loss to the Angels on Monday sparked some negativity that emanated from the Yankees TV booth — the YES Network booth — a network owned by the team.

“At some point, somebody has to be held accountable,” [broadcaster Michael] Kay said during a lopsided loss to the Angels, blasting the team for its “glass jaw.”

Ken Singleton and John Flaherty jumped in, leading to a substantive analysis of the Yankees abandoning their trademark patience at the plate.

Kay’s boss, president of production John Filippelli, declined to discuss how YES will handle this lost cause [of a season]. But Kay said Filippelli told him after Monday’s rant, “I agreed with what you said, and you have every right to say it.”

I’m not sure how the Yankees fans are taking things with their team on the outside this year, but guessing by standard New York procedure, they’re probably dishing out a lot of criticism. What’s wrong with it coming from the broadcast booth? I think it’s more important to be credible than to be a blind homer. It’s also nice to hear that the Yankees aren’t power tripping over this, either. After all, we know they have their sight’s set on next year anyway.

Brian Cashman Takes the Blame for Failure, Preparing for a New Job?

Nobody ever accused Yankees GM Brian Cashman of deflecting blame; he’s always been a stand up guy. There was the time in Buster Olney’s book where it’s said Cashman wanted to sign Vlad but Steinbrenner insisted upon Sheffield, but aside from that, Cashman takes responsibility for everything. So much so, that he straight up took all the blame for the Yankees’ failures this season and protected manager Joe Girardi.

Asked how much of this is on his shoulders, Cashman said: “All of it. I’m the general manager. So if you want, we can clear this out of the way. This is not a Joe Girardi issue.”

“I think Girardi’s done a tremendous job given what has occurred,” Cashman said. “And he continues to try to remain upbeat with this coaching staff to try to keep these players up and to try to perform up to their abilities.

“That’s frustrating for all of us, but the buck stops right here with me. My job is to put it together. My job is to fix what’s broken. … I just believe we’re better than this.”

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Girardi Cuts Out Yankees Sweet Tooth

After seeing what losing weight has done for A.J. Pierzynski’s turnaround season, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has decided to clamp down on his players’ eating habits. OK, maybe it wasn’t the AJ Pierzynski effect, but Girardi has nonetheless decided to eliminate sweets from the visiting clubhouses when the Yanks are on the road.

The Yankees contacted the visiting clubhouse manager of every stadium where they play and asked that the candy and ice cream be removed before the team comes to town.

The clubhouse in Tampa Bay replaced all the candy with nuts, dried fruit and granola. It was hilarious to watch as guys smuggled in candy bars and ate them furtively at their lockers.

I wondered myself why all this junk food was provided to these world-class athletes with finely tuned bodies. But then I realized we were talking about baseball players. Besides, some of them like to get sugar-rushes before the game — nothing wrong with that. Funny what losing or mediocrity does to someone’s mindset; I doubt sugary foods would have been a problem had the Yanks been 14-5 like Arizona.

Yankees Have This Whole Spring Training Thing All Wrong

First it was Yankees’ catcher Francisco Cervelli getting his wrist broken when Elliot Johnson of the Rays slammed into him at home plate. As a response, Joe Girardi said the Rays were playing too hard and that running over a catcher isn’t something you should be doing in Spring Training. By nature, that’s horrible logic; how can you tell guys trying to impress someone by playing hard not to hustle? Would Girardi prefer to have wusses on his team that are afraid of playing hard and trying to win, even if it is Spring Training? I don’t think so; I think he’s just speaking out of bitterness because his player was on the injured side of things.

Next, the Yanks dosed Evan Longoria of the Rays when they played again, and then an inning later Shelley Duncan slid into second base with his cleats up. He clearly spiked Akinori Iwamura intentionally, which was completely uncalled for. I’d call it nothing more than a bush-league response to what Johnson did. The benches emptied, though it wasn’t clear exactly what ensued. Then the Yankees couldn’t possibly top off the embarrassment they’d already created for themselves by complaining about another team playing hard. Or wait, could they?

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