Sunday, December 16, 2012

Yankees losing the money race to LA teams

It’s official: the New York Yankees are no longer baseball’s freest spenders.
In what appeared to be a contracting market, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim swooped in to sweep Josh Hamilton off his feet with a 5-year, $125 million deal. I’m sure it’s a lot less than Hamilton thought he deserved, but it’s still a fantastic deal for someone with his injury and addiction history. The Angels have spent money like crazy over the past two years, signing Albert Pujols and Yankee reject CJ Wilson to long, rich deals. They went after Hamilton despite, or perhaps because of, missing out of the baseball playoffs in 2012, in an effort to re-establish themselves in the American League West by stealing their main rival’s best player.
The Hamilton signing follows the six-year, $147 million mega-deal that Zack Greinke, the only ace-type pitcher available on the free agent market, got from the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are also spending like they don’t have a care in the world. Greinke’s market was thought to be limited, perhaps not as limited as Hamilton’s, because of his mental issues and his apparent disdain for big cities. But in a “pitiful” free-agent market, as described by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, Greinke was going to be well compensated. And the Dodgers, who bailed out the Boston Red Sox by taking several crushing, long-term deals and petulant players off their hands, were more than eager to accommodate Greinke in their battle for the hearts and minds of Los Angelenos.
In previous years, I would have believed that Hamilton or Greinke (or perhaps both) would have been viable candidates to become New York Yankees. But I barely paid attention to speculation surrounding their free agent status because I knew this year would be different, despite the embarrassing sweep the Yankees suffered at the hands of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series, because I knew there was virtually no chance either one of them would end up in the Bronx.
For the Yankees, there is a different sheriff in town in Hal Steinbrenner, who apparently cares nothing about making a big splash. His father George Steinbrenner would have overlooked both players’ personal demons and spent whatever he had to spend to convince them to come to New York. Hal Steinbrenner simply does not think that way. It’s a healthy strategy when you are dealing with guys like Hamilton and Greinke, who probably were not the best fit for New York anyway. But what happens the next time a great free agent who could be the perfect solution to a baseball problem in the Bronx becomes available? Is Hal Steinbrenner going to spend what it takes to get the guy or watch as another free-spending team like the Angels or the Dodgers snatches him up? To be determined.
Thanks to Mikejames 19 via Wikipedia for the Hamilton photo.   


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