Hank holdin the line

Wallace Matthews has an article about the negotiating policy of Hank Steinbrenner. The major problem with writing an article like this is that it assumes Hank is doing the negotiating. Which, for all of Hank’s apparent love for attention, is not really true.

Matthews compares the Santana negotiations with the A-Rod negotiations:

He wanted Rodriguez back so badly that he not only reversed a very loud and public proclamation, he wound up bidding against no one but himself in his mad rush to secure A-Rod’s services.

What makes you think the same thing isn’t going to happen with Santana? Obviously, the Twins think it will, because they let Hank’s unilaterally imposed “deadline” pass last night without comment. After all, as great as A-Rod, is, for the Yankees, he was most definitely a “want.” Santana is a need. If Steinbrenner lusted after Rodriguez, he must be bleeding for Santana, although he’s trying his damndest to hide it.

Let’s get this straight. A-Rod: want. Santana: need. Because if the Yankees didn’t sign A-Rod, they would have had Wilson Betemit to play 3B. If the Yankees don’t get Santana they only have… oh, right Phil Hughes.

Clearly, this is the Steinbrenner Method of Negotiation. Tell the other team you’re not interested. Demand that the other GM lose your phone number. Put his e-mail address on your blocked senders list. Throw around words like “outrage” and “insult.” Insist you will never be “played,” like all those other suckers. Storm out of a meeting if necessary.

Then sit back and wait for the other GM to crawl back meekly, hat in hand, begging you to take that troublesome two-time Cy Young winner off his hands.

Brilliant, really. Except it never works in real life. Besides, once you take that kind of a stand, you’ve got to be prepared to play it through to the end, something Boy George was unwilling to do in the A-Rod fiasco.

It never works in real life? Well, except for that time the Yankees negotiated with A-Rod after he opted out right? Actually, come to think of it that’s the only other negotiation mentioned in this article. And what hapepned? A-Rod came back, “hat in hand” so to speak, and offerred to take less money than he was originally offered.

When Hank Steinbrenner tells Twins GM Bill Smith his offer is off the table, Bill Smith can do one of two things. Take him at his word. Or wait for his word to change. That is when, history tells us, Hank will reverse field, bundle up Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and throw in the rights to the first-born sons of A-Rod, Jeter and Robinson Cano in order to get what he really needs, which is Santana at the top of his rotation. Either that, or watch Santana go to Boston and take the AL East title with him for the next 10 years.

10 years huh? Hyperbole, I say. And I don’t know that I see the Yankees giving up Kennedy and Hughes. I think that’s been made clear.

You see, Boy George is not fooling anyone. By trying to bully the Twins into a deal, he is letting everyone know how badly he wants and needs Santana. And by drawing lines in the sand only to erase them the next day, he is cementing a reputation as Kid Blowhard, the guy who huffs and puffs and then blows his own house down. No matter how you spin, parse, slice or dice the A-Rod “negotiation,” the end result is Rodriguez got just about everything he wanted, Scott Boras got his cut and the Yankees lost more than just a $21-million subsidy from the Texas Rangers.

What did the Yankees lose? They saved the $21 million from what they originally offered A-Rod. And they retained the best player in baseball. I think that’s an important point.

After backing off on A-Rod, how they expect anyone to believe they are now going to stick to their word on Santana is beyond me. Not when the Red Sox are out there poised to make Santana their No. 1 to Josh Beckett’s 1A. Not when the Yankees rotation right now consists of Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, the ghost of Mike Mussina and a bunch of kids wearing diapers under their uniforms.

Those “kids wearing diapers?” They are three of the top young pitchers in baseball. And not the kind who are 18 and in single-A ball. They’ve pitched in the majors. The Yankees have acquired their new “ace” before, only to have it fail. Bottom line the Yankees still have the best lineup in the game (thanks to resigning the “non-need” A-Rod), 2 top of the rotation starters, an aging former ace looking for a bounceback year, and 3 top flight young starters.

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