On the eve of the trade deadline, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman fielded a question about rumors that the Phillies were looking to trade Cliff Lee to free up payroll space and perhaps add some young players to their top heavy roster. Cashman’s response was something most of us probably never expected to hear come from a Yankees’ GM with a straight face.
“I’m not allowed to speak about another team’s player,” Cashman said before the Yankees’ eighth defeat in their last 11 games, this one by 5-4 to the Orioles.
“But if there was a hypothetical, mythical beast that makes like $25 million a year for the next ‘X’ number of years that became [available on] the market, we certainly could not participate in [acquiring] that level of financial talent.
Could not? That’s a funny choice of words. After all, the Yankees apparently weren’t under the impression that they couldn’t do that when they offered Lee a similar contract to the one he signed with Philadelphia after the 2010 season, and the team has neither added a new long term mega contract nor seen their substantial revenue streams dry up between then and now, so what does this “cant'” mean, exactly?
Well, it means that they can’t fit Lee into their plans to get below the luxury tax threshold in two seasons, and that’s where the Cashman is engaging in felony abuse of the English language with statements like this one. Because the Yankees certainly can add a player like Lee if they want to (and to be clear, I’m not saying that they should meet Philadelphia’s exorbitant demands for Lee), they choose not to do so because
Michael and Fredo Hal and Hank Steinbrenner have decided not to look Bud Selig’s eight figure gift horse in the mouth, and are dead set on getting their cut of the revenue sharing refunds provided by the new CBA. And hey, all they have to do to qualify is cut their payroll, which means even more revenue ends up in their pockets as profit. It’s a win-win!
The bizarre thing about all of this to me is that there’s no indication that any reporters followed this up by pointing out to Cashman that the Yankees didn’t find the cost prohibitive two years ago. Actually, I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising; beat writers and mainstream outlets need access to the clubhouse and front office sources to do their job, and shining too much attention on the richest team (and least fan friendly) in the sport’s cost-cutting in the service of putting $10 million+ in extra profits in the pocket of ownership isn’t going to endear you to the guys who run the team (better to stick to trashing the team’s prized offseason acquisition in Spring Training, donchaknow).
But make no mistake, that’s what is going on here. The Yankees can do whatever the hell they want to do, but what they want to do is steer a larger portion of revenues into profits for ownership. Oh, and get rid of StubHub. For the good of the fans, of course.
Continue reading Can someone get Brian Cashman a dictionary?