In spite of my earlier assertion that the Yankees would land a high priced free agent (i.e. Matsuzaka) before Christmas, Brain Cashman has been showing remarkable fiscal restraint this off season. Maybe this is due to a new philosophy in the Yankee organization where money is spent wisely, or the general manager is actually allowed to do his job. Or, maybe...just maybe...the Yankees are afraid of losing money? Nah. I think that Brian Cashman is finally allowed to be a real GM, and that he is being prudent.
The irony in this is that other teams are spending princely sums on free agents while the Yankees remain relatively stingy. The major moves they made so far are to dump a right fielder and a pitcher for more pitching help. Many believed that the Yankees would top all bidders in the Daisuke Matsuzaka sweepstakes, but the Red Sox threw down over $51 million dollars for the rights to negotiate with him. That was enough money to make even George Steinbrenner flinch. Now, the Red Sox are denying that this was a move to block the Yankees from signing him. Either way, the Yankees came in under the New York Mets as well, perhaps exercising financial restraint. Cashman seems content to let others make the mistakes that his team has made for decades, taking risks by spending giant sums of money on players who come to New York and fail to produce.
Now, it is reported in Newday that the Yankees have won the right to bid with lefthander Kei Igawa for the "surprisingly large winning bid of $26,000,194", according to Jim Baubach of Newsday. This isn't large compared to the huge sum of money the Red Sox threw at Matsuzaka. The Red Sox deny this was a blocking maneuver, as stated earlier. But, it is clear that the Yankees were willing to live without Matsuzaka as evidenced by their bidding strategy, and the Red Sox wasted their time if they were merely blocking the Yankees. This time, if the Yankees were afraid of being out bid by the Red Sox with Igawa, they would have bid a lot more that $26 million dollars than they did. That's restraint.
Baumbach writes: "The Yankees, however, obviously saw something in the Hanshin Tigers lefthander to think they were better off investing in him as opposed to some of the middle-of-the-rotation pitchers who have been receiving big-money deals this off-season. This move likely rules out free agents such as Ted Lilly and Gil Meche." If that's the case, then $26 million dollars makes sense for the Yankees. And while their extravagant spending of the past still taints their organization today. Looking at Cashman's moves this winter, they look like solid baseball decisions. Twenty six millions dollars is not money foolishly spent, but it's the cost of doing business in today's market.