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Just a Little Patience

Over in the New York Times, Tyler Kepner explains the Yankees’ approach this off-season:

It turns out the Yankees are not obliged to sign a player just because he happens to be a free agent who would fill a need. They won 97 games last season, the most in the league, before their first-round playoff loss. They can give it another try with these players and go back on the market next winter, when the free-agent starters should be much more appealing.

Cole Hamels and Matt Cain, All-Stars younger than 30 with strong postseason pedigrees, are unsigned past this season. Either would make more sense for the Yankees, in the long term, than [C.J.] Wilson or the other top starters on this winter’s market.

…What they are doing is planning ahead, a strategy that fits Hal Steinbrenner much better than it ever did his impatient father, George. Incentives in the new collective bargaining agreement would essentially reward the Yankees for reducing their payroll to $189 million by 2014. By then, Burnett, Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher will be off the payroll, which has exceeded $200 million in each of the last four years.

At the moment, the Yankees owe just over $80 million to Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter for 2014. That leaves a lot of room for marquee talent, some of which is already in pinstripes.

This is all so sensible, though it feels odd on some level, a George-less Yankee team, one that exercises caution. Part of me is waiting for someone there to stop making sense–another Soriano maybe? In the meantime, they are being very Dude-like about it. Go figure.

Categories:  1: Featured  Hot Stove  Yankees

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1 Shaun P.   ~  Jan 5, 2012 9:21 am

In retrospect, the ownership-driven Soriano signing might be useful even if Soriano doesn't pitch well. I'm sure Cashman has put the "1st round draft pick + $11M for 40 ineffective innings" facts to good use. I hope it will prevent future silliness.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 5, 2012 9:29 am

Good pernt.

3 ms october   ~  Jan 5, 2012 9:45 am

yea sometimes you need to let some screw up a bit so you can, well use it against them.

this does seems strange though. but i can't really quibble too much. i would like to see a few upgrades here and there but one of the few economic concepts i like - opportunity cost - seems to be in play here.

4 edoubletrouble   ~  Jan 5, 2012 9:52 am

The reward of patience is patience.

5 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jan 5, 2012 11:17 am

Counting on excellent young pitchers to become free agents is a bad strategy. They should not expect hamels to be there next winter and proceed accordingly. And then if he is there, reassess.

6 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jan 5, 2012 11:52 am

Fine, fine, except Mo will not be off the payroll in 2014. What blasphemy.

7 RIYank   ~  Jan 5, 2012 2:22 pm

[5] Why, Jon? I mean, Hamels could sign a long deal this summer, so of course you don't "count on" getting him. But if there's a decent chance he'll be available, it's foolish not to plan for it.

8 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jan 5, 2012 2:27 pm

[7] because the cost of doing it is punting current success. And I don't think there is a decent chance he will be Yankee. There is a small chance that the phillies don't sign him and a small chance that if he becomes a free agent the Yankees will get him. Small x small does not equal decent to me.

9 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jan 5, 2012 3:18 pm

[7] hate posting by the phone [8], never reads right.

Mostly what I am saying is that saving room on the bus for the perfect pitcher while passing up real ways to improve the team in the current environment is not a good strategy.

For example, if (and I'm not saying I know this happened, just a ferinstance) the Yankees were counting on Cliff Lee to sign in the winter of 2010, and passed on trading for Dan Haren in the summer of 2010 because they were saving his spot, then that was a catostrophic decision - one that potentially cost them two world titles.

If the Yankees passed on CJ Wilson or Yu Darvish because they don't think they are good enough for the $ they cost, then fine.

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