This American League East season preview will be full of surprises… NOT! Guess what kids, the New York Yankees spent a ton of money during the offseason, primarily on free agent pitchers C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and hitter of the winter that had every team salivating, Mark Teixeira. Also, Alex Rodriguez was in the news again for his off-field shenanigans, including kissing himself in the mirror, which I find nothing wrong in doing, but hey, we all can’t be egoists. In any case, despite spending a boatload of bucks again, the Yankees were actually getting a lot of money off the books and were simply replacing those dollars in other players. Hopefully, these players pay off as the Yankees have not won a World Series since 2000 and the recent track record of throwing money towards “superstar” players have not gotten the Yanks any rings. Will it pay off this season? It better.
Something is wrong in baseball. There is no doubt about it. Does the economy alone explain the players that are still available after the new year?
Useful parts like Eric Hinske, Joe Crede, and Jim Edmonds often have to wait until spring training to get a job. They are used to waiting around until teams decide they have a need and have a chance to compete and need to fill a spot with a veteran. The fact that these guys are still available doesn’t seem to really point to any core problem with the system.
“Stars” like Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Derek Lowe, Bobby Abreu, and Oliver Perez are also often out of work at this time of the year. It’s not that they can’t get a job. No, this class of player has a highly disputed value. The player and their agent are steadily manipulating general managers and the media, trying to get the offers in line with what they feel is commensurate with the production of the player. Manny already had a 2-year, $45 million dollar offer, and Lowe has turned down 3 years and $36 million from the Mets. Those numbers still represent raises over what the player earned last year, so inflation in the steady rise of veteran’s pay is still in effect.
So why is there obviously a problem?
In a word, Orlando Cabrera.
It took some fancy footwork and a bundle of buckaroos but the New York Yankees landed top pitching free agent, C.C. Sabathia, to a record shattering seven-year $161 million dollar contract. The Steinbrenners and general manager Brian Cashman enlisted the help of Hall of Famer and former Yankees great Reggie Jackson to ice the deal. Reggie of course was only too happy to - pardon the pun - “pitch” his glory days in the Bronx to Sabathia. Well, it’s the thought that counts, right? Go waving around a $23 million dollar a year contract and it’s a pretty safe bet that that player’s agent will recommend that his client sign on the dotted line.
The latest news from the owners’ meetings is the bidding war between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for Toronto Blue Jays hurler A.J. Burnett. No one needs to be reminded that there’s no love lost between Boston and New York and this is one deal that’s shaping up to be a no-holds barred free-for-all. No word yet on what each team has offered Burnett, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Hank and Hal Steinbrenner will not allow Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein to outbid them for Burnett’s services.
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