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November 22, 2005

NY Times: The Yankees Are Keeping Their Seats
by SG

Quoting from the New York Times article linked above:

There was almost no chance the Yankees could have made a successful trade for the ace pitcher Josh Beckett this week. All along, the Florida Marlins were seeking to deal with the Boston Red Sox, who had the prospects they wanted and the willingness to assume the rest of Mike Lowell's contract.

But it was telling that the Yankees had no serious interest. If this was a litmus test of the Yankees' stated goal of lowering payroll while retaining their best young players, the Yankees seem to have passed it.


For the Yankees, there were too many factors in a potential Beckett deal that made no sense to them. Still, there was one thing that bidding for Beckett might have done: keep a 25-year-old ace away from the Red Sox. In past years, that might have been reason enough for George Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner, to push for a deal, no matter the cost.


Still, when the Marlins closed in on a deal over the weekend - first with Texas before the Red Sox met the Marlins' asking price - the Yankees did investigate. The Marlins asked for starter Chien-Ming Wang in addition to prospects, including the Class AA third baseman Eric Duncan, but indicated that they still preferred the Red Sox deal.

The Yankees passed, just as they have turned down every other proposal teams have made that has included Wang or second baseman Robinson Cano. Wang started Game 2 of the division series as a rookie. Cano, also a rookie, batted .297 and had big hits in October. The Yankees say they will keep them.

Cashman said the Yankees had no interest in trading Pavano, even though he has three years remaining on a four-year, $39.95 million contract that looked like a waste of money last season. Pavano seemed uneasy with his surroundings in spring training, then went 4-6 with a 4.77 earned run average before the Yankees shut him down at midseason with a shoulder injury.

"We signed him for a reason," Cashman said. "Carl Pavano didn't succeed in New York his first year because of an injury. Physically, he wasn't right. When he's physically healthy and ready to go, we expect to see the pitcher we signed."


The Yankees' most pressing needs continue to be center field and the bullpen. Improving those areas while cutting payroll and keeping young players is the challenge.

When I first heard about the Beckett trade on ESPN this morning I got really upset. After thinking about it for a while longer, I'm not that upset about it really. Boston took a chance on a very talented 25 year old pitcher who has shown flashes of brilliance, but not the consistency needed to make him a bonafide ace. He could very well become an ace, but until he does he's a second or third starter at best. I was rather surprised that Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez plus taking back Lowell's bad contract was enough to get the deal done. The Texas offer of Hank Blalock and one of their top starting pitching prospects seemed much better to me, but I won't get into my Florida/Boston conspiracy theory here.

Anyway, what Boston does is only tangentially related to what the Yankees are doing. I'm starting a get a bit antsy about the lack of movement in the areas of bullpen and centerfield help. I certainly liked seeing the line about the Yankees ignoring all offers for Cano and Wang. While it won't stop people from suggesting trades with them, at least we can assume that those trades are nothing more than mindless speculation with no basis in fact.

The most surprising quote was the one about Pavano. It is my guess that the Yankees would love to trade Pavano, but that they don't want to dump him. They'll need to create the impression that he is a worth-while acquisition for someone, and this quote is likely the first step in that. It's doubtful he'd bring back much help before showing that he is healthy in spring training, so I wouldn't expect much to happen on that front.

I'm starting to sense that the Yankees may not get any of their targeted relievers this offseason, or Brian Giles. If that happens, I'm not sure what I'd want them to do. If they try to patch the solutions to their holes with what they have in the organization, they will have pretty bad problems in the short-term, but if it prevents them from making bad long-term commitments it may end up being the best thing for this team in the long-term.