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"The Heist"


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It Isn't Just The Money

 

Would the Yankees have been able to trade for Abreu without their unparalleled five-tool check-writing talents? Of course not. But the people who think they're only about money are the same people who think everything in life is about money.

 

It isn't just about the bucks they have. It's about the brains they employ to spend those bucks. And Brian Cashman, his baseball entourage and his club's president and dollar-allocator, Randy Levine, proved again over the weekend how formidable they can be.

 

Cashman and Co. hovered on Abreu for weeks, foresaw the Phillies' desperation to dump dollars even while they were being told relentlessly this would never be just a salary-expungation, and then convinced the Phillies that including Cory Lidle in this trade was their only hope to make it happen.

 

So now here the Yankees sit, having added Abreu, Lidle and Craig Wilson (from Pittsburgh) for one talented project (C.J. Henry), one 27-year-old relief pitcher (Matt Smith), two kids out of the Gulf Coast League and a pitcher they would have released, Shawn Chacon. Amazing.

 

Yeah, it wouldn't have been possible without that Boss Steinbrenner checking account. But what these guys just pulled off carried an indispensable element of pre-deadline genius.

 

And Speaking Of That Abreu Trade ...

 

Now presenting the most lopsided deadline deal of this millennium: Abreu and Lidle for four guys the Yankees already have forgotten they ever employed.

 

C.J. Henry? "I've never seen a shortstop throw like that in my life," said one front-office man. "First-round buzz. First-round athleticism. But he's just a guy where all you do is dream about his athleticism and hope it clicks."

 

Matt Smith? "Fringe guy," said one scouting director.

 

Jesus Sanchez? Carlos Monasterios? "With players that far away, who the hell knows," said one exec.

 

Over and over in the last few days, people from all walks of baseball have been asking: That's all the Phillies got for Bobby Abreu? And the answer is: You've got it.

 

"I keep asking myself, 'Is there something I don't know about Bobby Abreu that they know?' " said a high-ranking official of a team that would have loved to add Abreu in a less complicated, dollar-signed world. "I'm just baffled that they could not get anything back for a guy this good. And they paid him $1.5 million to waive his no-trade clause. And they just tossed in Cory Lidle -- tossed him in. I know for a fact there were teams that offered better prospects for Lidle alone. I don't get it."

 

Well, we don't get it, either. We've always looked upon Pat Gillick as a man of vision. So we'll give him every opportunity to prove that he can take that $21 million he just saved on his car insurance and transform the landscape of a fallen franchise.

 

But we still don't get it. Gillick is right when he says this group of Phillies had its shot, didn't win and needs to be disassembled. He's right when he says they need to change the mix, and he couldn't do that without more payroll flexibility.

 

But we still don't get it. Three different teams told us they thought they offered a better package for just Lidle than the Phillies got for both guys. So if the market for Lidle was that good, or even close, why not do that, hold onto Abreu for two months and try to deal him again in the offseason?

 

If his money situation made him so tough to deal, why not hang onto him until next year, try to win with one of the best offensive players in the league and, if that didn't happen, deal him at the '07 deadline?

 

To make this kind of trade, just for the joy of cashing out, simply tells the sport that either you think Abreu is outrageously overrated or your team is in major financial trouble -- or both.

 

Maybe there's a whole different reason we're missing. But that's merely proof that, like many folks who have looked at this deal from near and far, we just don't get it.

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A better package for Cory Lidle alone? I kind of doubt that. I liked Matt Smith better than I do Lidle. Lidle has been around the block and has yet to prove himself. I’d like to see some of the packages other teams were offering because it’s usually the Yankees that have to give away the farm.

 

I like Abreu’s defense, and his bat looked good today, but I don’t think the Yankees would even have gone for this trade if it weren’t for the injuries and the fact that we weren’t scoring enough runs.

 

So far, I am happy to get Wilson. I just don’t think Phillips is major league material. As far as losing Chacon, I can’t help feeling we’ll be regretting that.

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A better package for Cory Lidle alone? I kind of doubt that. I liked Matt Smith better than I do Lidle. Lidle has been around the block and has yet to prove himself. I’d like to see some of the packages other teams were offering because it’s usually the Yankees that have to give away the farm.

 

I like Abreu’s defense, and his bat looked good today, but I don’t think the Yankees would even have gone for this trade if it weren’t for the injuries and the fact that we weren’t scoring enough runs.

 

So far, I am happy to get Wilson. I just don’t think Phillips is major league material. As far as losing Chacon, I can’t help feeling we’ll be regretting that.

So now what do you say Ditto? Lidle tossed 6 very strong innings and his second half stats are signicantly better than his 1st half.

 

Abreu fits right in and whether or not Sheff comes back (he said he'd play 1st base) doesn't really matter. Abreu is a solid replacement for him. What a lineup we have and with Varitek and Nixon out, we have a solid chance of getting some distance between us and the dred sox.

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So now what do you say Ditto? Lidle tossed 6 very strong innings and his second half stats are signicantly better than his 1st half.

 

Abreu fits right in and whether or not Sheff comes back (he said he'd play 1st base) doesn't really matter. Abreu is a solid replacement for him. What a lineup we have and with Varitek and Nixon out, we have a solid chance of getting some distance between us and the dred sox.

I'm standing pat, Tags. Besides, didn't I make that statement after his debut? He's been around the block. Other teams have given up on him. Billy Bean let him go, didn't he? That has to say something.

 

I hope I'm wrong. We do need a decent arm to take us to the end. He is playing for a new contract, though, and that might be helping his questionable work ethic. Fasano caught that game, btw, which might say something for the old f***.

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