The New York Yankees have long been considered an organization characterized by a drunken sailor, and rightfully so. They tend to throw their riches at every attractive option available, and answer to critics at a later date.
This offseason seemed to be no different, as "$423.5 million" has been stamped into the brains of every baseball supporter. This time, however, the Yankees intertwined blind aggression and fiscal awareness into their negotiations.
When it came to obtaining the best pitcher on the market, the Yankees did whatever it took, regardless of the circumstances. These were the George and Hank Steinbrenner Yankees.
In denying arbitration to two established veterans in Bobby Abreu and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees showed a clear awareness of where the market stood. This was a glance back in time to the Gene Michael Yankees.
Instead of inevitably committing themselves to $32 million in aging talent, the Yankees made the difficult decision to let .300, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 20 SB walk out the door. Then they used leverage and realism in not offering Pettitte "ace" dollars in his decline phase.
The result was a savings of $26.5 million in guaranteed money. Even if Pettitte reaches all of his incentives, the Yankees are netting a $20 million payroll reduction.
Brian Cashman could now address the Yankees’ one remaining weakness. He essentially turned a 35-year-old outfielder with limited range into a slugger with Gold Glove defensive ability in Mark Teixeira.
What is the difference between what Teixeira and Pettitte will make compared to the 2008 version of Abreu and Pettitte? It is the cost of a Brian Bruney or two, nothing more than an arbitration-eligible middle reliever.
New York may have spent their profits like Armageddon was approaching, but their payroll remains virtually unchanged from 2008.
What they did was replace Carl Pavano, Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Abreu, and Pudge Rodriguez with CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.
Next year we are sure to see more of the same. Hideki Matsui, Andy Pettitte, and Johnny Damon’s nearly $40 million will be transformed into a star outfielder and middle of the rotation starter.
What the Yankees do is retool according to the financial flexibility that they earned through a century of success and cerebral ownership. They have gotten away from the tactical nature of assembling a roster that netted them four World Series champions in five years.
Thankfully, the large commitments are once again being given to those in their prime, as opposed to the aging stars we have grown accustomed to.