Some people around town (Michael Wilbon) are miserable because the Yankees made the playoffs again. Archetypal Yankee haters complain that the Yankees spend way too much money. "Of course, the Yankees are in the playoffs," they whine, "they bought their way in."
That argument falls on two counts: 1) It fails to give credit to the Yankees for spending their money wisely. Yes, the Yankees can outbid most teams for most players. (Most, not all; not Boston for Curt Schilling.) But lots of teams have spent lots of money on big-name players and gotten squadoosh. How about Jim Thome and Billy Wagner? Did they transform the Phillies? Has spending a ton of money on Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez revamped the Mets? Have Nomar Garciaparra and Aramis Ramirez rescued the Cubs? How many of those teams are in the playoffs? Any dope can spend a lot of money. The trick is getting a good return on your money.
And 2) It fails to give credit to the Yankees for not simply spending money -- but finding clearance-rack pitchers who actually did carry them to the playoffs. When their bling-bling starters (K. Brown, M. Mussina, B. Unit) stumbled, who saved the Yankees? Two journeymen and an unknown. Somebody named Aaron Small is 10-0 for the Yankees. With five previous teams in eight previous seasons, Small was 15-10, total. Shawn Chacon is 7-3 for the Yankees. In five seasons with the Colorado Rockies he was 24-45. Chien-Ming Wang never pitched anywhere else. But he's 8-5 for the Yankees. That's 25-8 from three guys who cost the Yankees a ham sandwich and a Cel-Ray soda.
The Yankees aren't in the playoffs because they bought it. They're in there because they deserve to be in there. Their general manager may be aptly named, Cashman. But this year it's the small change he spent that delivered.