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Multiple outlets are reporting today that the Yankees are seriously considering acquiring center-fielder Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers in a trade.

Mark Feinsand, for example,  is reporting the Yankees looked into it but the price was “sky high” – the Tigers apparently want Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson.

I’m mixed on this.  On one hand, Granderson is great defensively.  He’s quick with a decent arm.  On the other hand, I’m not that impressed with his batting skills.  The high point of his batting was the 30 homers he hit last year – everything else sucks – .249 average, 71 RBI.  And he strikes out – a lot – like 141 times last season, 111 times in ’08, 141 times in ’07 and a whopping 174 times in 2006.

Plus the idea of giving up Jackson and Hughes for this guy is atrocious.  Grounds for smacking Brian Cashman on the side of the head if he pulls that deal off.  I think this is just naughty rumors from the first day of the Winter Meetings.  But, who knows for sure…crazier things have happened.

Both ESPN’s Buster Olney and the NY Post’s George A. King III are reporting that sources have told them that after the Yankee Brass met Friday, they set two main goals: to re-sign Andy Pettitte and cut payroll below last season’s opening day payroll of $201 Million.

As King points out, the Yankees face a much different off-season then the one preceding last season.  The Yankees had a ton of holes to fill and had almost $100 Million coming off the payroll to fill those voids with.  This time around, virtually no money is coming off the payroll, and the Yankees only have three, much smaller, voids to fill – left field, designated hitter and a number 3 pitcher.

It is clear the Yankees can meet their needs while still cutting payroll.  A championship caliber team is created by talent, first and foremost, but that team wins only if they bond and have players that will step up for each other when the team needs it.

My point, is the Yankees don’t need to drop $15-20 Million/year on a guy like Jason Bay to win a second consecutive championship, or give up 3-4 prospects to rent Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays for one season.

The Yankees announced Tuesday that they are not going to offer arbitration to any of the potential free agents they have, meaning the players are free to sign with any club they want to and that club does not have to worry about giving the Yankees draft picks in return.

For the Yankees, it means that they can set and offer the contract prices they want to for those players and don’t have to rely on what an arbitrator might decide on.  It appears the Yankees feel that this off-season’s free agent market will be the same as last year’s.

Last year, the free agent market did not pay well outside of high-caliber players such as CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe and a few others.  Instead, consistently good players were forced to sign for much lower than in previous years.  For example, Bobby Abreu had to sign with the LA Angels for $5 Million, after a 3 year contract with the Phillies and Yankees that saw him earn $16 Million in his final year of his previous contract.

The Yankees have one Type-A free agent in Johnny Damon.  Had the Yankees offered him arbitration and he signed with another team, they would have received a first or second round draft pick as compensation – but they also would hypothetically have to pay him higher then they might be planning to.

Xavier Nady, Jerry Hairston Jr, Erik Hinske, Andy Pettitte, Jose Molina and Hideki Matsui are all Type-B free agents, meaning the Yankees would have received supplemental round picks for each.

I do think the Yankees have made a smart decision here.  Nostalgia and team pride makes you want the Yankee Brass to keep everyone together, but we all know this is a business and all 7 of those free agents are replaceable.  If it was Derek Jeter in this situation, I’d go nuts about it.  However, when the dust settles, I would like to see at least Matsui and Damon still on the team, at least for the next 1-2 seasons.  I’d offer them both a 1 year contract with a team option for a second year that could become guaranteed based on plate appearances or some other performance measure.

Embattled New York governor David Patterson may be investigated by the New York State Ethics Committee for accepting as many as 5 Yankee tickets for last Wednesday’s Game 1 in the Bronx.  The New York Post broke the story on Monday, stating that the tickets had a value of at least $2,000.

Public officials like the governor are prohibited for accepting gifts of anything higher than a “nominal value” from entities like the Yankees who lobby for their interests in state government.

The intriguing thing is the initial lies told by the governor’s office.  At first questioning by the Post, Patterson spokesman Peter Kauffmann said that Yankees president Randy Levine personally offered the tickets to Patterson.  When questioned, Levine called Kauffmann and Patterson liars, saying: “He’s a liar.  I never talked to him.”

So Kauffmann told another story – that Yankees COO Lonn Trost offered the tickets to Patterson.  Levine also denied that story.  At that point, according to the Post, Kauffmann admitted that Trost had offered playoff tickets, but not World Series tickets specifically.

The Post found out from an official in Patterson’s office that Patterson had an aide get the tickets for him, because “the governor did not want to pay.”

This is very naughty.

Patterson is already embattled among voters in New York State.  He came to power after former NY governor Elliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace after a prostitution scandal, just in time for the US economic collapse.  Patterson has imposed several new taxes and other things that have earned him one of the lowest approval ratings ever for a NY governor.

This ethics issue will not help anything.  Kinda foolish on his part.

Hat tip from Sliding Into Home

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4. Yankees sign Mark Teixeira for $180 million over eight years. The Red Sox power brokers had a bad meeting with Teixeira at his Dallas-area home, opening the door for Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman, who implored his bosses to take the big plunge and beat Boston’s $170 million bid by telling them it was an opportunity to “make the Red Sox look bad.” It also made the Yankees look good.

10. Yankees sign CC Sabathia for $161 million. Some wondered whether the Yankees had to pay this much. That’ll never be known, but they felt a threat from Sabathia’s home-state Angels and simply had to have Sabathia, the ace they plainly needed.

17. Yankees sign Andy Pettitte for $5.5 million plus incentives. Pettitte held out for long enough for the price to drop, but he made it up in incentives after delivering an excellent year in the Bronx.

18. Yankees acquire Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit, Jhonny Nunez and Jeff Marquez and a pitching prospect. It seemed like an extravagance once the Yankees acquired Teixeira, as Swisher appeared destined to become an expensive and dissatisfied bench player. But when Xavier Nady went down with elbow trouble, Swisher moved to right field where he became a power threat and fan favorite.

30. Yankees pick up Chad Gaudin off the waiver wire. For $100,000, Cashman got a pitcher that may supplant Joba Chamberlain as the team’s No. 4 starter if the Yankees need one later in the playoffs. Twenty eight teams passed before Cashman pounced.

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Greg, at Sliding Into Home, makes the great point that AJ Burnett’s signing was left off the list.  Although I support Burnett as a Yankee – he has brought a level of fun and excitement to the clubhouse that was missing before he and Nick Swisher arrived and I think has been crucial to the Yankees success this season.  As a sales manager, I have always told my sales reps that unless they have fun – they will not sell.  Because if they have fun, their customers will have fun and are much more likely to buy.  And of course, they’ll enjoy their job more too.

Despite the fun he has brought, he has not been the dominating pitcher the Yankees hoped he would be.

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