Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why did the Yankees pass on Andrew Friedman? And why is Hal Steinbrenner like Hermey the Elf?

Yesterday, after hearing about how the Los Angeles Dodgers swooped up and signed Andrew Friedman, after firing GM Ned Colletti, I was naturally peeved. As my friend Sully put it, the Dodgers have back-to-back seasons making the playoffs, and they fire their GM, while the Yankees have back-to-back seasons of not making the playoffs, and give their GM a new contract. Good grief.

I have had my eye on Andrew Friedman for a long time. Here is what I wrote in 2012, in a column slamming Brian Cashman for signing Kevin Youkilis, and correctly predicting that the $12 million signing would be a disaster. I said that:
"With a payroll less than a third of the Yanks, and their best players leaving for free agency, Friedman is able to field a competitive team each year. (And no, it isn't just having had the good draft picks -- look at Kansas City!) In the old days, George Steinbrenner would have poached Friedman from the Rays a long time ago, instead of having a schlub like Cashman as GM for life."
Two years later, KC finally has a good team, but the Yankees are content to settle for three more years with a schlub like Brian Cashman. And yes, I still contend that George would have swooped in and gotten Friedman. (An aside -- if I had a dollar for every Yankee fan who insisted to me over the years that Friedman would never leave Tampa, I would be rich!)

Most of us have seen "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" a time or two -- or ten -- each Christmas season. Hermey the Elf is one of the more memorable characters. He is Rudolph's fellow misfit friend who doesn't want to be an elf -- which sounds like a pretty cool gig to most of us, even if you have to sing that annoying song about how "We are Santa's elves."  Instead, Hermey wants to be a dentist.

Anyhow, I was thinking about Lazy Hal yesterday, and I was struck by the similarities of  the Elf to him -- and it is not just the swoop of bangs! Hal literally has zero interest in running the team, which like being an elf, sounds like a sweet gig to most of us. Instead, he would rather do his amateur weather forecasting.

Mike Lupica, perhaps the only major media guy in New York unafraid to criticize Cashman and Steinbrenner, had an excellent column in the Daily News about the state of the Yankees. He said that:
"Hal Steinbrenner goes through the half-hearted motion of talking like a tough Steinbrenner owner, like he’s learning a new language on Rosetta Stone. But one of the reasons that Brian is coming back is that even if Steinbrenner had wanted to hire a new general manager, he wouldn’t have had a clue about who it should be. All we know for sure is that he’s decided that the general manager he has is indispensable."
That is about the size of it. Hermey -- I mean Hal -- does treat actually attending Yankees like going to the dentist. And the Yankee GM fancies himself an elf. After all, he dresses as one when he does his dopey rappelling each holiday season.

Imagine what Friedman could do with the resources in Yankeeland. Yet, by all accounts, nobody ever even tried to poach him, even though Hal lives in Tampa. Good grief indeed.

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