That question – Did Yanks GM Brian Cashman ax what would have been a done deal? – is what Bill Madden ponders in The Daily News today. The answer could come back to haunt the Yankees or it could open up the door to a new era of sense and sensibility in Yankeeland.

According to Madden, the Yanks walked away from a 4-for-1 deal that would have netted them Santana: Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Marquez and Mitch Hilligoss to the Twins for the lefty. But it wasn’t the talent on which the Yanks were overly concerned. While Cashman was loathe to trade Hughes, the GM was more concerned with the money.

The Yankees concerned with money? What’s this world coming to? Well, here’s Madden’s take:

Once Andy Pettitte announced he was returning to the fold for $16 million, it meant the Yankees had committed $408.4 million this winter to retain six players. The acquisition of Santana would have meant tacking on another $125 million to that figure, and Cashman, who never wanted to do the Santana deal in the first place, blanched at the prospect of adding another $20 million to a payroll that was already on the cusp of $200 million, again. In this respect, the timing of Pettitte’s decision to return – while initially seen as giving the Yankees additional leverage in their dealings with the Twins on Santana – actually gave Cashman the “out” he needed…

Bad as it was to be sacrificing Hughes, Cashman told the Yankee high command, look at what the payroll was going to be now if they added $20 million-$21 million for Santana on top of the $16 million they just tacked on with Pettitte…In the end, Cashman prevailed, convincing Hank and Hal Steinbrenner of something he could never have done with their dad – that trading for Johan Santana was simply too expensive for the New York Yankees.

Madden notes that many of the Yanks’ bad contracts – Pavano, Giambi – are responsible for the currently inflated Yankee payroll. One season of an expensive Santana before those two albatrosses fly away wouldn’t have been the worst thing to happen to the Yanks.

But Brian Cashman has spent the last few years developing the Yankee farm system; he wasn’t quite yet ready to give it away. Cashman, whose contract expires this year, is clearly staking his future on this non-trade. If Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy develop, if Melky remains a viable option in center field, if the Yankees make the playoffs and win, he’ll look smart. Otherwise, he and all other Yankee fans will look back at this deal – a deal that the Yanks, as Tim Marchman so succinctly put it yesterday, probably should have made – and wonder what could have been.

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Poll: The Johan Near Deal

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We’ve gotten tons and tons of comments and email about this whole Johan Santana situation. Some were for the deal and some weren’t, but the sheer volume of input from you guys (which we love getting and truly appreciate, by the way) makes it difficult to get a sense of how Yankee Universe really feels about this mess. So take a second and vote in the poll below, and as always, feel free to add your two cents in the comments.

How do you feel about the Johan Santana near deal?
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As far as we know, as of the moment this was posted, the Yankees are out of the Johan Santana Sweepstakes. Whether they’re actually out of it remains to be seen. Until there’s definitive news of a trade, I find it hard to believe that the Yanks are completely out of the loop. But for now, all we have to go on are reports, and they’re all saying that the Yanks are out, and that the Red Sox are the No. 1 suitors for Santana’s services.

Then again, maybe the Twins aren’t too thrilled about dishing the best pitcher in the game for a good pitching prospect, a group of mid-ceiling guys, and a no-hit center fielder. After all, we’ve seen reports that the Angels put in a bid, and hell, even that the Rangers are interested. Gee, I wonder who’s planting those stories.

Some signs that a deal with the Sox might not be as close as some will have you believe:

  1. Will Carroll, at 5:15 p.m. EST on Tuesday, said that the deal was “all but done“. Without getting into specifics, Carroll is known for being wholly inaccurate in regards to his reported rumors. There are plenty of examples out there.
  2. Even before that, at 3:28 p.m. EST on Tuesday, the Red Sox Propaganda Machine said that a deal “could be close”. You think maybe people are feeding Petey these Red Sox stories, knowing he’ll just and yap them to the world?
  3. Things are going so slowly that, despite talks supposedly ongoing for most of the afternoon, the only thing to report in the evening was that the teams had broken for dinner. Nothing to see here, folks.
  4. As La Velle E. Neal III notes, the Yankees have not told the Twins that they’re out on Santana (emphasis his). He reports that “it doesn’t look like anything is close,” though he admits that’s speculation on his part.

So this is far from over. Not that the Yanks will or should get back into the derby. I’m just saying that Santana to Boston isn’t as surefire a deal as some may have you think.

The quote of the night, though, comes from Ken Davidoff of Newsday. Brace yourselves for this one:

“How about the Yankees, in jeopardy of missing the playoffs altogether?”

I don’t even want to go into this. I’ll leave at this: fucking foolish.

Couple of other Yanks notes, also courtesy of Newsday:

  • Luiz Vizcaino has “made a point to [agent Bean Stringfellow] that he does like New York.” Stringfellow then rattled off some random teams that are interested in the Viz, and followed it up by saying that he “believes that Vizcaino can get a 3-4 year contract along the lines of Scott Linebrink.” If that’s the case, it was nice having you for three out of the six months we had you, Viz.
  • Seeking security for his client, Chien-Ming Wang‘s agent Alan Nero approached the Yankees about a long-term contract to buy out his client’s arbitration years. “Fine,” said the Yanks. “Make us an offer.” Discussions ended there. Might it be time for Wang to be seeking new representation?

Are you ready for another day of this?

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Everyone breath a sign of relief. Take in that nice, big gulp of air and let it out slowly. According to Hank Steinbrenner, the Yankees will not at all be trading anyone approaching the quality of Phil Hughes for Dan Haren.

Phew. Once again, we here at RAB look good.

In a press conference following the Yankees’ decision to drop out of the Johan Santana farce sweepstakes, Hank was pretty clear in expressing the Yanks’ views on Haren and A’s GM Billy Beane’s demand for his overvalued pitcher. Newsday’s Kat O’Brien reports:

As for Haren, a 27-year-old righthander who was 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA this season, Steinbrenner stomped on the idea of the Yankees acquiring him. Oakland general manager Billy Beane has told teams he would need to be blown away to deal Haren. He would want a similar haul from the Yankees as the Twins asked for in exchange for Santana.

Steinbrenner called that price “ridiculous” and vowed: “It won’t happen, not with us.”

While Hank has come under some criticism for possibly saying too much too often, this is music to my ears. Haren, as I wrote yesterday, comes with a little too much hype and just one season of clear-cut, top-notch pitching. Until he duplicates his 2007 numbers, Haren shouldn’t be considered an ace, and he’s definitely not worth any combination of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy or Austin Jackson (as Rotoworld speculates the A’s would demand).

Sanity reigns supreme with this one, and this measure of common sense assuages my fears that if the Red Sox land Santana — and it’s far from the done deal — that the Yankees would respond by grossly overpaying for Haren.

Meanwhile, if you want to love Phil Hughes more than you do now, read this tidbit from PeteAbe. Phil knows he has the backing of the fan base. I wonder if he’s talking about us and those t-shirts.

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  • As the Santana turns

    The Red Sox Propaganda Machine Peter Gammons reports that the Red Sox and Twins may be on the verge of completing a 5-for-1 deal with Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish and Justin Masterson heading to Minnesota in exchange for Johan Santana. That’s quite a lot of talent to send away for one pitcher. · (69) · reporter Jim Molony recounts a TV bit regarding Andy Pettitte which might make Yankees fans very happy:

On Tuesday, Pettitte told KRIV-TV that he could pitch another 10 years if he wanted to and, at the very minimum, would like to help the Yankees open their new stadium in 2009.

“I really believe now, especially after playing with the Astros and pitching with my elbow the way it was when I needed the surgery, I realize now I could go out and probably pitch until I’m 45 years old, because I was throwing 82, 83 miles an hour and still being able to compete, maybe because I’m left-handed or whatever,” Pettitte said.

“Everybody wanted me to come back. My wife realized that if she would have said, ‘Let’s shut it down,’ I would have definitely done that. She was like, ‘Let’s see how it goes one more year.’ So with that support and all of my teammates’ support, no matter what, wanting me to come back and do this again, that’s probably the big thing.

“One of the main [reasons] this was such a tough decision for me, one year could lead to another, maybe. For the main reason, if I’m healthy and if my family wanted to support it again, we would consider it, but also the Yankees are going to have a new stadium. I know down the road, when we get through this season, that will be in the back of my head also. That would be awfully nice, to play in that new stadium.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was some of the stuff that you think about. I realize there are some things that could be enticing that tie me into playing even another year.”

Give him the Wakefield treatment!

Hat tip to My Pinstripes.

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