Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A quiet word, a notable reaction

Mariano Rivera took the Teddy Roosevelt speak softly and carry a big stick approach to heart, and it may pay dividends for both him and the Yankees sooner rather than later. Both his agent and Rivera have been disappointed by the lack of response from the Yankees to their efforts to obtain a contract extension. Mo is 37 and under contract for this year and can become a free agent. He is the best closer in postseason history and the most consistent performer in the new Yankee dynasty and post-dynasty era (1996-present). He had a Mo season last year yet again -- 1.80 ERA, 34 saves. And if Torre doesn't wear him out again this year, Mo should hit his averages once again (sub-2.00 ERA, 40 saves, etc.).

Yanks GM Brian Cashman is actually undertaking a herculean effort to revamp the team structurally and financially -- kind of akin to reconfiguring the Ford or GM business model. Cashman wants a younger team, less costly, highly talented. He has reloaded the farm system through trades this offseason (the Yanks are one of the few teams to actually acquire top prospects from other teams, who are hoarding them like a miser's treasure), and cut away some of the fat contracts (Johnson, Sheffield). Cashman also wants to wait until season's end to re-sign potential Yankee free agents (Mussina). But there's a limit to even a newly powerful GM's control -- that's the leverage of a Hall-of-Fame all-time great who is still producing. Although the NY Post wants to scare the Yanks by bringing up the specter of Mo pitching for, and Torre managing, the RedStanks, the reality is that getting Mo re-signed for $30/2 is probably the right thing to do. And a minimal risk -- Mo is a constant, rarely injured, and still an outstanding closer.

C'mon Cash, do the right thing as soon as practicable.

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