Friday, January 4, 2008

Power Struggle: Cash vs Hank

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times believes payroll is at the heart of the Santana debate. A debate which has reportedly divided the Yankees seller (Hank) from the Yankees farmer (Cashman).

From NY Times:
Hal Steinbrenner’s primary responsibility is to oversee the Yankees’ finances, and he is reluctant to add another huge contract.

According to several people who have spoken to the brothers recently, that is the crux of the debate in the organization over whether to trade for Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins.

Both Steinbrenners want the team to keep winning. Hal Steinbrenner would try to do it with the existing payroll of roughly $200 million. Hank is more inclined to add Santana, largely to keep him away from the rival Boston Red Sox.

The result of the internal debate is that nothing has changed since the Yankees pulled their offer at the winter meetings in Nashville a month ago.

There is no standing offer, but from earlier trade talks, the Yankees know they would have to deal starter Phil Hughes, center fielder Melky Cabrera, the minor league pitcher Jeff Marquez and another prospect for Santana.

For the Yankees, the $140 million figure would be compounded by an additional $56 million they would owe in luxury taxes, because they are still charged an extra 40 cents for every dollar they spend. Investing almost $200 million in Santana for seven years — and the prospects — is clearly too steep a price for General Manager Brian Cashman.

Cashman wrested autonomy over baseball decisions from George Steinbrenner when he signed a three-year contract extension in October 2005. But Steinbrenner had already begun moving to the background, and his sons did not take an active role until last season.

So far, Hank Steinbrenner has listened to Cashman, endorsing his strategy of investing in amateur talent and developing and keeping homegrown pitching.

Hughes offered the Yankees two delicious glimpses into his future last season: his first major league victory, on May 1, when he fired six and a third no-hit innings until leaving with a strained hamstring; and his showing in September, when he went 3-0 with a 2.73 earned run average before earning a victory in relief in the playoffs.

Some Yankees officials believe Hughes could eventually be as good as Santana at a fraction of the cost. But Santana, despite an ordinary second half, is a two-time Cy Young award winner who would make the Yankees much more imposing to the champion Red Sox.

Kepner reminds fans the required inclusion of Melky Cabrera in any Santana deal would result in a defensive hit to an already shaky outfield.

He then brings up the possibility of the Yankees signing Mike Cameron to patrol centerfield, "a player Alex Rodriguez has been privately endorsing," though the ex-Met will miss the first 25 games of the season after testing positive for amphetamines.

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