Lack of Splashy Moves Is the New Business as Usual for the New York Yankees
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If you're still waiting for the New York Yankees to make a blockbuster trade this offseason that will position them as front-runners for the American League pennant, then now is the appropriate time for you to return to your normal daily activities.
This is 2013, a new time for the Yankees. A time defined by a businesslike approach to personnel—one which means less spending and more saving in order to get under the luxury tax threshold before the 2014 MLB season.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is really handcuffed right now. What's so remarkable and hard to comprehend for Yankee fans is that things have changed dramatically from the way they were for such a long time under the reign of George Steinbrenner.
Now, ownership has mostly delegated decision-making authority for player personnel to the GM. Yet ownership is also quite frugal compared to where it was just a few years ago.
The Yankees are paying a premium for experienced talent in the short term while showing an unwillingness to take on long-term contracts. The team has also chosen not to pursue smaller trades that were floated as rumors in the media.
The Yankees' inaction is a nearly complete 180 from the way business used to be done in the Bronx.
It would appear that the answers go well beyond our comprehension. But I think a lot comes down to the fact that Hal Steinbrenner is a true businessman who is interested in generating a profit for his business.
In baseball, one way to generate a profit is to have a great product on the field that people are willing to come and see.
Another way is to cut costs.
And that's precisely what Hal Steinbrenner is trying to do, so less money will be taken from him by MLB in 2014 when the newest round of the luxury tax could potentially hit his business...er, team.
Now, it's impossible to fault him for that logic from a business perspective, which is why plenty of people defend him.
But it just so happens that while the "shareholders" may understand and see the logic of Hal's business approach, they end up not profiting in this scenario.
Am I suggesting that the Yankees should have signed Josh Hamilton and mortgaged the farm for a No. 2 or No. 3 starter?
No. I think the Yankees' frugal ways have been partly good and partly bad.
This business approach may have just cost them Michael Morse, whom the Washington Nationals just traded to the Seattle Mariners. Morse was a moderately coveted right-handed hitter who could have helped boost the Yankees lineup, which is heavily left-handed.
The Yankees have also—prudently, I'd add—shown a reluctance to deal highly valued prospects for Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton. It seems that Upton's price tag is too steep.
Under the old regime, Upton would be scouting some of Manhattan's poshest developments for a luxury apartment by now.
In the past, King George would have definitely re-signed Nick Swisher, his postseason failures notwithstanding. He was a fan favorite and a solid player with a couple of good years left in him even if the cost would have been prohibitive.
Who cares? "Win now, worry later" used to be the philosophy.
Hal Steinbrenner is making decisions like a businessman who sees things exclusively in black and red on the bottom line. Much of the decision making, which seems to be in Cashman's court, has been taken out of his hands.
That's not at all an excuse for Cashman, just my opinion. Hal throws out his "rah, rah" line here and there basically about how the brass will do whatever it takes, which emerged as a news story last week.
Personally, I think most, if not all, of that is lip service. I won't be surprised if the Yankees trade Curtis Granderson. And I won't be surprised if they end up breaking form, just slightly, to give two years to a guy like Scott Hairston.
But the days of George Steinbrenner are long gone. The gentleman who owns the team now has an MBA and sees baseball from a business perspective.
One that is all about continuing to line his pockets and make shrewd financial decisions.
What will happen next season after Hal Steinbrenner tries to get under the luxury tax threshold? Will the old days return, or are the Yankees' present methods the new norm moving forward?
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