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Volume 24 No. 156


Yankees GM Brian Cashman on Thursday offered free agent 3B Kevin Youkilis a one-year, $12M contract, an assertion "that despite what people may think, the Yankees are fully capable of investing in the current team and are simply choosing not to do much at the moment," according to Jorge Arangure Jr. of the N.Y. TIMES. Cashman said there are "a lot of signings in the marketplace that are above" what they should be. He added, "It's not something that we can't do, but a number of these things I wouldn't do. ... I don't feel like we're not having a productive winter. I do feel like we're being deliberate. And we are being slow." Arangure writes the Yankees had "seemingly wandered into a science fiction movie in recent days, somehow transformed into a small-market team to the astonishment of agents, rival executives and many uneasy Yankees fans." The offer to Youkilis showed that the Yankees "could still throw their financial weight around, at least for the moment" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Daniel Barbarisi reports Yankees sources on Thursday confirmed that Cashman "arrived in Nashville unable to make offers to players." MLB player agent Scott Boras "quietly suggested Wednesday that Cashman lacked the power to make offers." Cashman before the offer to Youkilis "went back to team ownership and made his case," and was "allowed to move forward." A Yankees official said that most GMs "would have to go back to ownership to vet potential deals." The official added, "What does Scott Boras know? Are you kidding me? The only reason that Cash didn't have the authority at that point, if you want to use the word authority, is that he wasn't making any offers; there was nobody out there that he thought, at these prices, that he should make offers on" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/7).

PINSTRIPE PARALYSIS? On Long Island, David Lennon writes the "unhealthy obsession with 2014 and its menacing $189-million luxury-tax threshold is interfering with the Yankees' efforts to build a World Series winner for 2013." It is "paralyzing them." Cashman: "We have to constantly remind ourselves that we have a lot of talent, and that allows us to be patient." Lennon writes, "Simply put, to let the prices drop." This is "unfamiliar territory for the Yankees and those who are used to doing more robust business with them" (NEWSDAY, 12/7). GRANTLAND's Jonah Keri wrote that the Yankees "appear so committed to cost containment, with the upshot of banking an extra $40 million per year in avoided penalties, is admirable, if for no other reason than the sheer stubbornness of that stance" (, 12/5).'s Tony DeMarco wrote, "Are the New York Yankees serious? Are they really going to keep doing this new dance with fiscal restraint?" (, 12/6). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes if the Yankees "keep tightening the purse strings and it eventually translates into a diminished product, the live gate will suffer," and "so will YES' ratings" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/7).
NOT YOUR FATHER'S YANKEES: ESPN’s Buster Olney noted late Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner “believed in marquee power” as the team signed high-profile players throughout his tenure. Olney: “Over more than three decades, he conditioned Yankee fans, and rival teams, to believe that the Yankees would always go after the biggest names and the best players. So this off-season has been a shock to that culture” ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN2, 12/7). ESPN N.Y.'s Andrew Marchand wrote Yankees Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner is "about to face a fan base that was raised at the knee of his father." The "venom Hal will encounter from the masses will contain the psychological residue of years of worshiping The Boss' mantras" (, 12/5).

SALVOS FIRED: In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes, "Despite the recent history that strongly shows the Yankees should shut out the noise, I sense an organization incredibly touchy to the current tidal wave of criticism." Sherman: Will they have the discipline to stay on the path to a $189 million luxury tax payroll in 2014, as promised? Or will they ultimately be slaves to their big-game hunter DNA?" Many MLB execs "believe they are merely being coy before a December or January surprise." But Yankees execs "did notice the empty seats and dispassion in their October crowds." There is "clearly worry about how they re-energize the base" (N.Y. POST, 12/7). Also in N.Y., Tyler Kepner wrote the Yankees, who "often lead the checkbook charge, have been silent." Cashman has "been shopping for bargains, despite openings at right field, catcher, and with [Yankees 3B Alex] Rodriguez's latest hip injury, third base." Boras can "hardly believe it." He said, "They're reducing their payroll from past practices, despite record revenues in the $800-$900 million area, and frankly, when you look at the collective bargaining agreement, their reason for doing it, with the value of their brand, has to be looked at very closely." Yankees President Randy Levine: "Scott's a great agent, but he's an agent. Last I looked, he had zero experience running a professional sports team. I think the Yankees have done pretty well following our own course. My advice to Scott is stick to your day job representing players" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/6). 

The Trail Blazers “laid off three high-ranking executives Thursday morning" when CFO Gregg Olson, Senior VP/Tickets & Marketing Michele Daterman and Senior VP/HR Traci Reandeau "were relieved of their duties,” according to Jason Quick of the Portland OREGONIAN. The moves come eight days after COO Sarah Mensah resigned and "less than a month since team president Chris McGowan moved into his office.” McGowan said, “I decided that I needed to make changes to develop my executive team and streamline management layers that are excessive when compared to other sports franchises” (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/7). In Portland, John Canzano cited account reps as saying that Mensah “had been increasingly withdrawn" since McGowan was hired. Canzano writes, “I happen to like McGowan. … I offer a bit of advice for the new guy -- this ends badly for you.” Some will find the Thursday's layoffs “insensitive, but I'll bet those who lost their jobs on Thursday understood the risks of working for the Blazers.” Canzano: “I'll bet none of them were shocked. … All this runs much deeper than business semantics.” Costs may have been “cut, sure, but ultimately, this basketball franchise is running in a circle, re-inventing itself, then starting over, then turning over a new leaf.” The Blazers are “Groundhog Day,” and McGowan is “going to implement wonderful ideas, and bring a breath of fresh air, and he's going to re-vitalize the front office.” Then, sometime between “now and 2017, he's going to get fired, quit, resign or just disappear,” as that is “what happens to executives around here” (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/7).

Suns President Jason Rowley on Friday said the team's "Satisfaction Guaranteed" money-back promotion around Thursday night's home game against the Mavericks, which drew a season-high announced crowd of 18,506 at US Airways Center, created a “positive vibe in the building.” While the Suns lost the game 97-94, Rowley noted the promotion was "not set up as a win-loss guarantee," but intended to be "about the entire organization" and the gameday experience. While admitting that experience is largely "about the basketball side," Rowley stressed that the success of the promotion rested mainly in team staff bringing their "A-plus game," and in the gameday improvements made in the arena during the offseason. Thursday’s attendance beat the season average by about 3,000. Data is not yet available on the number of fans who might request a refund, but Rowley anticipates the "vast majority" of attendees will be content with the in-arena experience. He cited early reaction from local media and fans, some of whom were interviewed by TNT's Craig Sager during the game broadcast. Rowley said he was "surprised how much attention it got" from the media and "thrilled to see the positive reaction." When asked if the Suns would bring back the promo or possibly make it a regular feature of its marketing plan, Rowley said, "It is important to see how the redemption actually goes, but I wouldn't remotely rule it out" (Preston Bounds, THE DAILY).

FEELING GOOD ABOUT THE PRODUCT: CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce was in favor of the guarantee because it means the Suns are “confident that if they can get you in the stands, that you’ll enjoy your time” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 12/6). But TNT’s Kenny Smith said, “I would never have guaranteed anything.” TNT’s Ernie Johnson said, “Give them credit for a good idea.” But Smith replied, “It’s not. It’s impossible to guarantee somebody a good time” (“Inside the NBA,” TNT, 12/6). The Miami Herald’s Israel Gutierrez prior to the game said, “I see thousands of requests for money-back guarantees because how are you going to prove that I had fun at the game? … That’s free basketball.” But Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, “Fans will be nice. They’re not going to ask for their money back” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 12/6).

Prospective Coyotes Owner Greg Jamison on Thursday said that “cementing the long-term stability of the Coyotes in the desert will go a long way to building the team’s popularity and bottom line,” according to Sonu Munshi of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Jamison is “relieved to have completed ‘a 17-month odyssey’ to clinch an arena-management deal with the Glendale City Council last week.” Jamison said, “There’s been a lot of people who have worked on the ground to keep the team here.” He added that he “hopes to finalize the purchase of the team” from the NHL, and that he “aims to get the team in position to compete for the Stanley Cup each year.” Jamison: “There’s a good foundation now of NHL and hockey fans, and we just need to add to that.” He added that the franchise needs to "continue to develop youth and adult hockey leagues to eventually make hockey part of the community fabric.” Munshi writes Jamison’s focus is “mainly on buying the team and rebuilding the business side of it.” An option he has with Glendale to purchase Arena “isn’t on his priority list.” Jamison: “There’s the opportunity to do so, and that may be the extent of it. ... At this point, we know it’s there” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 12/7).

In K.C., Bob Dutton notes Royals Owner David Glass “created a stir recently in revealing $70 million to be the budgeted break-even point for the club’s 2013 payroll.” Club officials on Thursday said that the $70M payroll figure “encompasses the entire 40-man roster -- not merely the 25-man roster on Opening Day.” The difference between the payrolls for the 25-man and 40-man rosters is "roughly" $3M, as the Royals currently are “projected to spend" $68M on their 40-man roster. Club officials on Wednesday night said that the $70M figure “also signing-bonus limits for the draft and international spending." That made the situation “look especially bleak: Spending on the draft and international signings is roughly budgeted at $10 million, which would’ve left the Royals $8 million in the red” (K.C. STAR, 12/7).

HOW TO MONITOR? In N.Y., Sam Borden notes several NFL Giants players “questioned just how silent” suspended Saints coach Sean Payton has been this season. Borden wonders, “How can the NFL reasonably monitor compliance with such a broad ban,” as the punishment “seems all but impossible to enforce.” The league is “restricted by basic privacy laws -- meaning, for example, it cannot be like the Central Intelligence Agency and tap Payton’s phones -- though it could use private investigators to follow Payton or watch him from public areas.” An NFL spokesperson declined to “discuss the methods the league uses to monitor suspended personnel, saying only that Payton ‘is expected to comply with the conditions of the suspension’” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7).

MAGIC WAND MISSING: In DC, Michael Lee notes the Wizards since reaching the playoffs four straight seasons from ’05-08 have “posted the NBA’s worst record." They are “just 45-118 since Ted Leonsis became primary owner in June 2010 and are gaining little traction locally, ranking 21st in the league in attendance (15,538) as area sports fans divert their attention to Robert Griffin III and the Nationals” (WASHINGTON POST, 12/7).

LOONEY TUNES: SPORTING NEWS’ David Whitley wrote the Hornets’ rumored name change to Pelicans “may be the worst-reviewed” NBA phrase since “I'm taking my talents to South Beach.” Whitley: “I'm trying to like it, but it's hard. I picture a clunky fowl with a long beak and fat chin.” But fans “eventually get used to even the looniest nicknames” (, 12/6).