The Week That Was in Baseball: December 22-28, 2008
Yankees $423 million, Red Sox $0 A Bad Sign of the (New York) Times
Take Mr. C - - - - - s' Name Off That Building! The Big Unit Becomes Giant

All I Want for Christmas is Everybody on the Free Agent Market...
One of two things is going to happen to the New York Yankees in 2009: They’ll either win the World Series or they will be extremely disappointed that they don’t. With the free agent signing of slugger Mark Teixeira this past week—a somewhat blindsiding move given all the press ink afforded to potential suitors in Boston, Baltimore and (gulp) Washington—and on top of the big deals given to CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Yankees have yet again solidified themselves as the Evil Empire, the Best Team Money Can Buy, the Team to Beat. If there is talk of a possible depression in America, the Yankees are insanely oblivious to it.

Two years ago, the Chicago Cubs spent nearly a third of a billion dollars on a cache of free agents in an attempt to build dominance in the NL; so far, for all that dough, they’ve won two division titles—and not one playoff game. Now the Yankees have doled out—on just three players, mind you—$423 million in guaranteed money. And they still might not be done; rumors are swirling that the Yankees have enough money left—and certainly enough interest—to nab Manny Ramirez off the market, especially with no other team currently making public waves about signing him.

Reaction to the Yankee spending spree has been varied. Some believe it’s the end of baseball as we know it. Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio—yes, second cousin to our own Ed Attanasio—is barking for a salary cap after the Yanks gave $61 million more for Sabathia than he offered. But others are salivating, awaiting a crash-and-burn of a Yankee empire that hasn’t reached a World Series in seven years, hoping that newfound chemistry will be hard to find and that this still-relatively aging team will wilt under enormous Gotham pressure. With the Yankees, the Red Sox and now the defending AL champion Tampa Bay Rays all in the mix, the AL East, more than ever, will make for never a dull moment in 2009.

...And a Little Cash
The Yankees, for relative pennies, acquired former Boston catcher Kevin Cash to a minor league deal. If he makes the 40-man roster in spring training, he’ll be given $700,000 for one year.

Turn Back the Budget Weekend
Even in light of their elephantine player signings, the Yankees will be charging 1923 ticket prices for bleacher and grandstand seats at the new Yankee Stadium when the ballpark opens with two exhibition games against the Chicago Cubs on April 3-4. Bleacher seats will go for a quarter (as opposed to $10 for any regular season contest) while the grandstand seats will fetch $1.10; no word of whether beer prices will be similar to those from 1923, the year the original Yankee Stadium opened.

The Luxury Watch
Continuing the giving theme, it was announced this past week that the Yankees will have to pay $26.9 million in luxury taxes per the redistribution of wealth rules submitted by MLB. The money will be split among teams with the lowest payrolls, and we’re all eyes as to which pants pocket Florida owner Jeffrey Loria puts his Yankee gift of millions. The Detroit Tigers, a major disappointment in 2008 despite a $160 million payroll, is the only other team forced to pay a tax at $1.3 million.

Will the Yankees Land on Black or Red?
Holly M. Sanders of the New York Post breaks down the numbers—and the logic—of how the Yankees can afford all of the above expenses. Click here to read.

All the News That's Fit to Cash In
Here’s one reason the Red Sox might have refused to up the ante on Mark Teixeira: The New York Times is looking to sell. Explanation? The Times actually owns 17.5% of New England Sports Ventures, the entity that owns the Red Sox. It seems odd that such a prominent New York icon would own a stake of something so Bostonian—and it’s not the first time such a thing has happened, given that Yankee ownership actually held control of Fenway Park in the early 1920s after loaning $300,000 to the cash-strapped Red Sox. But the newspaper’s parent company, the New York Times Co.—which owns 16 other newspapers including the Boston Globe—is experiencing major financial losses due to dwindling print readership, ad revenue and the poor economy in general. So it’s hoping to cash out of the Red Sox with as much as $300 million, four times what it paid for in 2002—but also twice as much as what current banking experts believe the stake is actually worth.

The Giant Unit
Randy Johnson, who seemed to pitch better as the 2008 season progressed—he threw a complete game in his final start for Arizona—signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the San Francisco Giants that could increase to $13 million if all of his incentive clauses are met. The Giants, who already own one of the better pitching rotations in the majors, are crossing their fingers that Johnson’s back won’t give out on him in 2009, a year in which he’ll turn 46 in September. Johnson needs just five wins to reach 300 for his career, and if he plays a full season he’s got a decent shot of reaching 5,000 career strikeouts (he’s currently 211 shy). As Johnson’s star power and looming milestones should help the Giants at the gate, his potential for spreading the sage among the team’s young guns—including reigning NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and closer Brian Wilson—could prove to be just as valuable.

Roger Who?
The cultural purging of Roger Clemens continues. Memorial Hermann Medical Center in Houston announced that the disgraced ex-pitcher’s name will be removed from its Institute for Sports Medicine. It’s a move that seems all the more cold given that Clemens once donated $3 million to the hospital. A statement from the hospital declares: “The move reflects a desire to promote the broad range of sports medicine services and programs offered by Memorial Hermann across the greater Houston area.” The wording is so painfully oblivious as to be ignorant, but that’s the hard reality of Clemens’ current-day Medusa touch. Clemens' camp could not be reached for a response.

A Slugger On the Field...And Off It
The all-too-public divorce between San Diego owner John Moores and his wife isn’t the only relationship on the rocks in Padreland. Veteran outfielder Brian Giles has been sued for by his former girlfriend for $10 million—a figure which, ironically, Giles is roughly owed by the Padres in 2009—for a pattern of physical abuse upon her, including when she was pregnant. At the Padres’ urging, Giles released a statement this past week denying the charges and claiming that the ex’s legal action is “all about money.” There’s one incident he can’t deny: An assault on the girlfriend at a Phoenix bar in 2006, an altercation not only witnessed by those on the scene but also by a video surveillance camera. For that, Giles had the charges dropped in exchange to undergo anger management counseling.

TGG Programming Notes
The TGG Teams pages have been updated to reflect results of the 2008 campaign. Also coming is Ed Attanasio's chat with former Dodger Nate Oliver in our They Were There section, as well as our 2008 Yearly Reader page.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.

Season's Greetings from This Great Game!