As the Yankees' players hopped happily in the middle of the infield late Wednesday, in the first moments after winning the World Series, plastic glasses were dispensed in the suite of general manager Brian Cashman. There were about 20 members of the Yankees' baseball operations team in the room, including amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer and professional scouting director Billy Eppler.
Bottles of champagne Cashman had brought from his home were opened, and glasses were filled, and in his first act after the Yankees clinched the organization's 27th championship, he lifted his glass in praise of the folks who are generally unseen and unknown: the staff members within the team's player development, scouting and medical departments. In his toast, Cashman talked about how the scouts and staff members were a crucial part of what the team had just accomplished. "This goes out to all of you," Cashman told the others in the room.
Down on the field, a victory stage was set in place, and the players and the Steinbrenners gathered for the trophy presentation. Cashman lingered in the suite, to honor the people who make up the blood and guts of his organization. "It was pretty classy," Oppenheimer said Friday, from his desk in Tampa, Fla., where he was looking over scouting reports. "It made people feel really good about it. It's a sign of what he's been for us -- someone who has brought everyone together, from top to bottom."
In Pat Gillick's years as general manager, he was renowned for the way he treated his scouts and player development staffers, and so was former Minnesota GM Terry Ryan. Some scouts remained tied to Gillick and Ryan despite attractive offers from other teams partly because of how they felt included, and respected. It is evident that since Cashman was given full power over the Yankees' baseball operations in the fall of 2005 that a similar culture has been developing.
As the Yankees prepared for the postseason this year, Cashman reached into the organization for help. Josh Paul, a catcher in the big leagues before becoming the Yankees' manager at Staten Island of the Class A New York-Penn League, joined the team that did the advance scouting in the postseason, as did Gary Denbo, who has served as consultant for the Yankees since being let go as the Jays' hitting coach last year. "I think our scouting for the postseason was exceptional," Cashman said.
Oppenheimer and others from the staff went onto the field after the toast, and into the clubhouse, where a champagne-soaked Joe Girardi walked over to him. "Make sure you thank all your scouts," Girardi said.
Oppenheimer spent some time with the Yankees' coaches, and noted that half of the current coaching staff -- pitching coach Dave Eiland, first-base coach Mick Kelleher and third-base coach Rob Thomson -- have been part of the organization for years and were promoted from within. There is a cohesiveness in place, Oppenheimer said.
"You don't feel like there's a separation [between the departments]," he said. "Everybody has their role, and everybody does their thing. Brian is the one who has made us feel like we're a part of this thing."
You might have heard: New York had a parade for the Yankees. There were chants to "Go for 28", as Jack Curry writes. Tyler Kepner figures he might have been the only one who wasn't wearing Yankees stuff. For Yankees fans, this was a beautiful thing, writes Mike Lupica. The Yankees were showered with love, writes Tara Sullivan.
George Steinbrenner was missed in the Yankees' championship celebration, writes Steve Politi.
Cashman urged the players to enjoy the moment, writes George Vecsey.
Johnny Damon hopes he will be back with the Yankees, writes Mark Feinsand. I think the Yankees will offer him a strong one-year deal, and if he says no, they'll be comfortable moving on to a Plan B, because Damon is 36. Plan B might be Hideki Matsui. There is some sentiment in some corners of the organization to keep the DH position flexible, to better accommodate Jorge Posada, who has two years remaining on his contract.
• The Brewers traded J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez, a center fielder who hasn't posted an on-base percentage of higher than .298 in the majors, and in some corners of the Internet, Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin is being criticized for not landing pitching in return. Here's the thing: While Hardy is viewed as a solid candidate for a bounce-back season, after hitting .229 in 2009, his trade value was greatly compromised by the fact that he is expected to make a salary around $7 million for next season. "All you have to do is think about what he would make if he were a free agent," said one rival GM. "What would he get -- $3.5 million or $4 million, at most? Doug was swimming upstream on this one."
The top-ranked shortstops in OPS since the All-Star break in 2007:
Hardy is a good gamble for the Twins, who essentially gave up a player who was an extra outfielder for them in return for someone who they believe, at the very least, will play solid defense at a premium position, and that fits within Minnesota's style. And it doesn't hurt them, at this particular time, to extend themselves as they go into a new ballpark, and to show Joe Mauer that they are serious about trying to do what they can to win. There is some risk on the Twins' end, said Bill Smith. Jim Souhan loves this trade for the Twins. Within this piece, there is word that this trade signals that the Twins will make Delmon Young a regular in 2010.
Gomez will be penciled in as the Brewers' center fielder for next season, and presumably, if he doesn't improve offensively, he will be a candidate for a non-tender in the winter of 2010. "A clear case of someone who was rushed to the big leagues," said one evaluator. He is clueless in how he plays the game, writes Tom Powers. Less than two years after the Johan Santana trade, half of the package the Twins got has been dealt.
The big right-hander is immensely respected, but it's unclear how many teams will want to extend themselves for a 31-year-old who has missed the beginning of the past two seasons with elbow issues. He would be a perfect fit for the Brewers, as a complement to Yovani Gallardo. How much is Milwaukee willing to offer him? We'll see. Only two teams were willing to offer five-year deals for A.J. Burnett -- the Yankees and the Braves. And it seems that eventually, this will be the big question about Lackey: Are there going to be teams willing to offer him a fifth year on a contract?
• The Royals wanted to gain a couple of players with zero to three years of service time in the Mark Teahen trade, while adding some financial flexibility, as Bob Dutton writes. Teahen will play third base for the White Sox, with Gordon Beckham shifting to second base, writes Joe Cowley. The White Sox still have more work to do, writes Phil Rogers.
• We're just two days into the free-agent period and already there are well over 100 players on the open market, between the players with six or more years of service time and those who fit the non-tender category, like Marcus Thames. Among the others cut loose Friday:
1. Brett Myers, who had been with the Phillies for eight seasons.
3. Coco Crisp and Miguel Olivo, which cost the Royals $600,000. (An immediate thought: Crisp might be a nice fit for the Padres, at a lower salary, in spacious Petco Park, while playing for Jed Hoyer, who knows Crisp from his days with the Red Sox.)
4. Some Reds infielders.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Indians have anointed Tim Belcher as their pitching coach, and Ramon Pena as their director for Latin America operations. Heard this: Looks like the Indians' pursuit of Sandy Alomar Jr. as a coach is not going to work out.
5. As expected, Manny Ramirez took his $20 million option with the Dodgers for 2010, as Dylan Hernandez writes. It'll be interesting to see how much production L.A. gets from Ramirez, who had an OPS of .838 after the All-Star break last season, with 10 homers in 234 at-bats.
6. The Phillies are going to look at other options before deciding whether to pick up Pedro Feliz's $5.5 million option. The calendar might nudge them into keeping Feliz. On paper, Adrian Beltre would be a great fit for the Phillies -- but Beltre is represented by agent Scott Boras, who likes to take his time and let the free-agent market breathe like an open bottle of wine.
By The Numbers: 27th Yankees World Series title
Compiled by Mark Simon and many others from ESPN's Stats & Information group:
1: Only one team has won a World Series title in the first and last years of a decade. The Yankees won a World Series titles in 2000 and 2009.
2: Two teams in this decade have won the World Series while sporting the best regular-season record in baseball. They are the 2007 Red Sox (tied for best record with Indians) and 2009 Yankees.
3: Three Yankees managers have won a World Series with the Yankees as a player and as a manager: Joe Girardi, Billy Martin and Ralph Houk.
4: Four current Yankees have played in six World Series together (Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte). This is the fourth World Series title in which the "Core Four" all played in the World Series (1998, 1999, 2000, 2009).
5: Five Yankees teams have won exactly 103 games in a regular season. This is the only one of those five to win the World Series.
6: Hideki Matsui had six RBIs in Game 6 of the World Series, tying Bobby Richardson's record for most RBIs in a World Series game.
7: Andy Pettitte's 17 postseason wins as a Yankee are seven more than the Yankees pitcher who ranks second, Whitey Ford. Pettitte still trails Ford in World Series wins 10-5.
8: This was the eighth time the Yankees faced a defending champion in the World Series. They've won in six of the eight instances.
9: Hideki Matsui has nine hits in 19 career postseason at-bats against Pedro Martinez, including a pair of home runs that helped him win 2009 World Series MVP honors.
10: The Yankees have clinched a World Series title in Yankee Stadium on 10 occasions.
11: Mark Teixeira's walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the ALDS was the 11th postseason walk-off home run in Yankees history.
12: Alex Rodriguez drew 12 walks in the 2009 postseason, one shy of the Yankees' postseason record, set by teammate Jorge Posada in 2000.
13: The Yankees fanned Ryan Howard 13 times, the most any team has struck out a batter in a single World Series.
14: Mariano Rivera has 14 postseason saves of six outs or more. That's the most of any pitcher by a wide margin. Rivera also has four World Series saves of six-plus outs, one ahead of Tug McGraw for most all-time.
15: The Yankees played in 15 postseason games in 2009, and went 11-4, the same mark they managed when the likes of Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera won their first World Series in 1996.
16: Mariano Rivera pitched 16 innings this postseason, matching the most he's ever pitched in a single postseason. He previously threw 16 innings in 2001 and 2003, but the Yankees lost in the World Series in both of those years.
17: Including their two walk-off wins in the postseason, the Yankees had 17 walk-off wins in 2009. The Yankees had 15 regular-season walk-off wins, second-most in team history to the 1943 team, which had 17.
18: Alex Rodriguez had 18 RBIs in the 2009 postseason, a Yankees record and one shy of the MLB record for most RBIs in a postseason, shared by David Ortiz, Scott Spiezio and Sandy Alomar Jr. Rodriguez also now shares the mark for consecutive postseason games with an RBI, with eight.
19: This season marked the 19th time in team history the Yankees won 100 regular-season games, the most of any major league team.
20: The Yankees hit 20 home runs this postseason, the most they've ever hit in any postseason.
21: Andy Pettitte had two wins in the 2009 World Series. This marked the 21st time a Yankees pitcher had two wins in a World Series, the first since Mike Stanton in 2000, and the first time by a Yankees starter since Mike Torrez in 1977.
22: In his first season with the Yankees, CC Sabathia won 22 games -- 19 in the regular season and three in the postseason.
23: The 1923 Yankees also won the World Series in their first year playing in Yankee Stadium.
24: Mariano Rivera now holds the record for most World Series games pitched, with 24. He broke Whitey Ford's mark of 22 in this World Series.
25: The Yankees were the first team in 25 years to lead the majors in home runs and runs scored and win the World Series. The most recent team to do that: the 1984 Tigers.
26: The Yankees had 26 World Series titles when Joe Girardi was hired as manager, so he picked 27 as his uniform number, to indicate that he wanted to lead them to another championship.
27: The Yankees have won 27 World Series titles, the most of any team in the four major sports.
Dings and dents
• The Yankees and Phillies will open the exhibition season against each other. Any hard feelings from the number of times Alex Rodriguez got hit in the World Series could be addressed that day.
• The Mariners will likely avoid the non-tender dances, writes Larry Stone.
• The Orioles are sending three executives to the GM meetings, writes Dan Connolly.
• Some Tigers prospects are drawing notice in the Arizona Fall League, writes Lynn Henning.
• Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his AFL start.