A roar from Hank but a looser Front Office

The Yankee ownership has spent the winter on ice, in a sense. They had to wait for Cliff Lee to return to Philadelphia as the Red Sox made moves to bolster their immediate prospects. They’re waiting for Andy Pettitte to decide he wants to come back. They’re waiting for some starting pitching to materialize, and they’re waiting to see how an aging core of players performs. From what I’ve heard, they waited almost too long to re-sign Mariano Rivera, but all’s well that ends.

With all of this waiting, though, Hank Steinbrenner is growing impatient. In an extensive talk with Kevin Kernan, the Yanks’ General Partner and Co-Chairperson had some choice words for his team. “We will do what we have to do to win. We have the highest payroll and the reason is we are committed to our fans to win,” he said. “We just have to (bleeping) win.” Of course, he didn’t really say bleeping, but I’ll let you use your imagination.

Hank went on about the Yanks’ off-season. He’s excited about the bullpen and thinks Joba Chamberlain will have a bounce-back year. He’s not happy about Cliff Lee’s decision though. “The fans pay the bills, we owe it to ourselves and to them to put the best product out there,” he said. “If we couldn’t get Cliff Lee, I’m really happy about getting Soriano. I just wish Lee would have given Brian the chance to meet with him, but he was on a hunting trip. He’s got his own reasons.”

Channeling his dad, he spoke about the Yanks’ youngsters and the club’s high hopes for them. “We got those kids coming too, Nova more as a starter, and the others,” he said. “You never know, one or two of them may join the team,” Steinbrenner said. “I know some of our baseball people don’t agree with our other baseball people a lot of the time, but they all like Nova.”

In parts I’m not going to quote here, Steinbrenner spoke about having faith in A-Rod and not regretting the 10-year deal he handed out. He speaks about re-upping with Jeter — “We do have a budget and we’ve got to be somewhat careful. We’ve made all our players rich. Our guys do deserve it.” — and he talks about staying healthy. Ultimately, he has faith: “I say we have one of the top four teams in baseball, whether we end up being the best or not, we’ll see.”

As Hank breaks his silence, another member of the Yankee Front Office spoke about his own relationship with his bosses this week. After a strained press conference with Rafael Soriano, the New York media wondered about Brian Cashman‘s comments, and during his Tuesday appearance on The Michael Kay Show, Cashman spoke about his reaction. He had, he said, “full authority from Hal” to dissent from ownership during the Soriano presser and did so for a reason.

“For me to be able to do my job, I have to be able to communicate with GMs, agents and media, and part of those conversations are very, very important,” he said. If he’s talking to other relief options such as J.J. Putz, Kerry Wood or Bobby Jenks, he can’t tell them that the Yanks won’t pay $7-$8 million per year for a set-up man if the team is going to sign Soriano for even more. “During those conversations,” he said, “your credibility comes into play when you make statements.”

By talking about at the press conference, he sent the message that he did not lie to other clubs and players. He was simply out-voted by those in charge of him. “It’s not the first time I’ve been overruled,” he said, “and it won’t be the last.”

Cashman respects his bosses. He says he lines everything that he says up with ownership first to make sure they’re on board, but every now and then, they’re not on board. It happens to everyone. These days, Cashman has been preaching patience, but those above him on the pecking order seem to be chomping at the bit. Even as the off-season of Andruw Jones, Russell Martin and Rafael Soriano drags toward Tampa, things are rarely quiet for the Yankees.

MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospects List

Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com posted his list of the game’s top 50 prospects yesterday, and apparently I somehow missed it. Jesus Montero placed ninth, which is probably the lowest you’ll see him on any prospect list this spring. Mike Trout, Jeremy Hellickson, and Bryce Harper rank one through three. Gary Sanchez pops up at number 32, and Manny Banuelos places not far behind him at 35. Each player comes with a minute or so long video with a scouting report, so make sure you click through to check it out.

Matthews: Aceves out for all ’11 (UPDATE: Nope)

Update by Mike (9:31pm): Matthews backed off the report, saying he may have been misinformed. He’s unsure of Aceves’ status for 2011.

Original Post (8:46pm): Here’s an interesting tidbit from today’s Wallace Matthews chat: When asked why the Yanks have yet to bring back Alfredo Aceves, Matthews said the right-hander is out for all of 2011. Apparently, Aceves’ back injury is “much more serious than [originally] assumed,” and the pitcher will miss “much if not all of 2011.” This is the first we’ve heard of this rumor, and we haven’t yet corroborated the news. Considering, however, that disc injuries often require surgery, this isn’t a very big surprise. Maybe Aceves can come back in 2012, but if not, we’ll always have his 14-1 big league career.

Open Thread: Greg Golson

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Earlier today we discussed the two-year anniversary of Andy Pettitte re-signing with the Yankees (well, one of those anniversaries anyway), but today is also the one-year anniversary of the deal that brought Greg Golson to New York. DotF Hall of Famer Mitch Hilligoss headed to Texas in the deal, and he went on to post a .335 wOBA in 275 plate appearances last year. I can’t find anything about an injury, so I’m not sure why he only made it into 69 games. Anyway, Golson spent most of the year with Triple-A Scranton (.325 wOBA), but he came up in September and made regular appearances as a defensive replacement, including the biggest defensive play of the year. He also found his way onto the playoff roster. Golson didn’t and most likely won’t have a big impact during his time with the Yankees, but they turned a replaceable minor league into some depth and a marginal late season upgrade. Hard to complain about the move.

So here’s your open thread for the night. The Devils, Isles, and Nets are all in action, but talk about whatever your heart desires. Go nuts.

Food For Thought: AL East Attendance

That graphic comes courtesy of Beyond The Box Scores’ Justin Bopp, and it shows AL East attendance figures over the last ten seasons. The Yankees have dominated in this department, accounting for no less than 25% of the division’s total attendance during the last decade. Keep in mind that Fenway Park has a capacity of 37,000 (give or take), while the new Yankee Stadium can accommodate just over 50,000. The ballpark in the Bronx at 85.2% capacity still boasts more people than a sold out Fenway.

Attendance is the root of the money making machine known as the Yankees, because it allows them to sell ad space at ridiculous prices and reap the benefits of the YES Network cash cow. As long as the team remains competitive, attendance will be strong and so will the revenue streams.

Calcaterra: ‘Very strong possibility’ Pettitte pitches in 2011

Update (5:22 p.m.): Via friend of RAB Craig Calcaterra, a source close to Andy Pettitte says there’s a “very strong possibility” that the big lefty will pitch in the upcoming season. Andy is reportedly doing his usual preseason routine to stay in shape and hasn’t any physical issues, a big plus. The stuff about Roger Clemens’ federal trial supposedly isn’t a factor in Pettitte’s decision either. According to Jon Heyman, the Yanks will offer Pettitte $12 million to pitch in 2011.

Earlier today, former Yankee Morgan Ensberg teased that we “wouldn’t believe” what he just found out about someone with the Yanks, and that he’ll announce it on XM MLB Radio tonight. There’s no reason to assume it’s related to Calcaterra’s report, but Ensberg and Pettitte did play together for three years in Houston and then for a season in New York. Let your mind wander at your own risk.

The RAB Radio Show: January 26, 2011

The Yankees continued adding to their spring training guest list today by signing Bartolo Colon. Yesterday they did the same when they signed Warner Madrigal. Neither represents an enormous signing, but both of them give the Yankees a low-risk pitcher who might help the team, but most likely will head elsewhere after spring training.

Plus, some Justin Duchscherer talk.

Podcast run time 26:52

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