Yankees develop conscience, will cut payroll

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From the I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it department comes ESPN.com’s Buster Olney’s latest tweet:
Yankees finished org. meetings — they’re cutting payroll. I’m not sure yet by how much, but during season, expectation was to $185 mill.
$185 million would be the team’s tiniest Opening Day payroll since 2004. The team did drop payroll slightly last year, going from $209 million to $202 million, but it’s really hard to imagine that the team would open 2010 under $200 million.
The club is currently on the hook for almost exactly $150 million to Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Damaso Marte. That doesn’t count the $4 million due to Kei Igawa, who is no longer on the 40-man roster.
Chien-Ming Wang, Melky Cabrera, Chad Gaudin, Brian Bruney and Sergio Mitre are all arbitration eligible. Perhaps Wang will be non-tendered, but the other four figure to cost about $7 million total.
So, that’s 14 players at $157 million. Other spots will go to Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Alfredo Aceves and Phil Coke, all of whom make the minimum. Now we’re at 20 players and $160 million.
Still, that doesn’t count Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui or their replacements. If Hughes and/or Chamberlain are going to be rotation candidates, then a new setup man will be needed. The team will also want a couple of veteran reserves to fill the roles occupied by Eric Hinske and Jerry Hairston Jr. at season’s end. A backup catcher is another possibility, though Francisco Cervelli is a candidate for the job.
Could the Yankees really take care of those needs for $25 million? Pettitte, Damon and Matsui would cost at least $30 million to re-sign, and it’s hard to imagine the Bombers going a whole lot cheaper in any of those spots.
My guess is that the Yankees will be right around $200 million one more time. And they’d probably be doing the rest of the league a favor if they stayed there. While they might not have squeezed as much revenue out of their new ballpark as hoped last season, they still did remarkably well and they made a bunch of money as a result of their World Series victory. There’s every reason to believe the Yankees could squeeze both Matt Holliday and John Lackey into their budget if they really wanted to.

Yankees acquire A.J. Cole from the Nats

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The New York Yankees have acquired reliever A.J. Cole from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations.

Cole was supposed to be the Nats’ fifth starter this year but that didn’t work out too well. He pitched in four games for the Nats, starting two, to the tune of a 13.06 ERA, having given up six home runs in 10.1 innings. That’s . . . something.

Don’t get too used to Cole on the New York roster, as this seems like one of those “give us an arm” for a couple of days deals, after which Cole will be DFA’d and will either accept an assignment to Scranton or be cut loose. Such is life at the fringes for a guy who is out of minor league options.