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Cashman details faking out Red Sox, boosting Crawford’s price

Back during December's major league free-agent frenzy, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman admitted to Jack Curry of the YES Network that he faked having an interest in free agent Carl Crawford(notes), just so the Boston Red Sox would have to pay more money to sign him.

Which they did, to the tune of $142 million.

Since then, Crawford has apologized for failing to live up to the expectations of the contract, and the Red Sox are struggling to make the playoffs. The Yankees, who most (not me!) picked to finish behind Boston, are meanwhile working on posting the best record in the American League.

In reflecting on how his team's own offseason acquisitions affected the Yankees' drive to finishing first in the AL East, Cashman detailed his thoughts to ESPN New York regarding his "pursuit" of Crawford. Yep, it was nothing but monkeyshines with agent Greg Genske.

They both used Boston's paranoia — along with the media — to their mutual advantage:

"I actually had dinner with the agent to pretend that we were actually involved and drive the price up," Cashman said. "The outfield wasn't an area of need, but everybody kept writing Crawford, Crawford, Crawford, Crawford. And I was like, 'I feel like we've got Carl Crawford in Brett Gardner, except he costs more than $100 million less, with less experience.' "

So, one of Santa's elves lied. I'm OK with this. It's slick. It's underhanded. It's genius. It's the way you have to play in the cutthroat world of the AL East sometimes.

If you're a Yankees fan, or Brian Cashman fan, you realize it takes more than having a blank checkbook to make a baseball team win. The Yankees had a bottomless bank account in the 1980s, too, but were mismanaged and won nothing.

Curry also speculated that some of Cashman's motivation came out of revenge for Boston making an offer to closer Mariano Rivera(notes), who eventually re-signed with the Yankees. But as far as big, big money players went, Cashman was much more interested in signing left-hander Cliff Lee(notes). He soiled the Yankees offseason by signing with the Phillies shortly after Crawford went with Boston. Cashman said he was even willing to move super catching prospect Jesus Montero(notes) in order to make it easier to land Lee.

Instead of adding Lee — who Cashman still regrets losing — the Yankees brought in Freddy Garcia(notes) and Bartolo Colon(notes). Things have worked out in that regard, so far.

On that last part, it's funny how right Cashman was about the relative values of Gardner and Crawford. Crawford has hit for more power, but Gardner's gotten on base more and stolen more bases — and is about $141.5 million cheaper. So, no matter your opinion of Cashman's chicanery, the Yankees have been better off.

"What I said was accurate: The Red Sox had a great winter, and I had a bad winter," Cashman said. "But as it turned out, I had a better winter than anybody would've expected, including myself."

Even if he told a lie.

Big BLS H/N: River Avenue Blues

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