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Patience is a virtue (except when it isn’t)

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The cliche in the headline is one that we’ve all heard many times over. And it’s true – there are some things in life that almost always turn out better if you can contain yourself and wait. I’ve spent much of this week shopping for a new car – always a brutal experience – and, as anyone who has done it before knows, jumping at the first offer is silly; you wait, talk some more, look around some more, negotiate, hem and haw, and if you have enough patience the price usually drops. Patience pays.

Same thing with latkes. With Chanukah starting tomorrow, my wife and I were making latkes (potato pancakes) tonight and the key is to wait before flipping them – do it too soon and they’ll fall apart. If you wait, though, you get golden brown goodness (especially when topped with apple sauce, sour cream or sugar).

In baseball, there’s a fine line between patience and pushing the envelope. One of the things that changed when Brian Cashman got full autonomy as GM in 2005 was a steady (and healthy) decline in the “now-now-now” aspect of the Yankees universe. Cashman’s patience was critical in landing Mark Teixeira a year ago and again this year in working the Tigers for Curtis Granderson. The first conversations on Granderson happened at the GM meetings back in November; by waiting, Cashman got a very (very) fair price for his new center fielder.

Thing is, Cashman also knows when to push. The Yankees haven’t set a firm deadline for Johnny Damon (yet), but they’ve made it clear they’re ready to move on without him – a savvy move that will put Damon, who wants to remain in New York, to the test. No room for patience here.

Same with Andy Pettitte, who marinated for months last year over whether to play again or not. The Yankees worked it out with Pettitte a year ago, but this time they had no interest in waiting around. Either Pettitte was leaving a big hole in the rotation or he was filling it himself; turned out he filled it. Again, no room for patience there.

Now, with the winter meetings done and spring training still a few months away, patience again has value. Is there a Roy Halladay deal to be made for the Yankees? Not as it stands right now. But rumblings around baseball are that the price for Halladay is dropping, and despite Halladay’s assertion that he’ll only approve a trade if it happens before spring training, the general consensus is that it isn’t exactly a hard deadline.

We saw it happen with Johan Santana. The longer a team waits for the perfect package, the more likely they are to take a lesser one. In this case, the longer Halladay stays in Toronto, the better the chances for the Yankees to swoop in and get a deal.

Will it happen? Who knows. But with the offseason moving past its first big milestone, Cashman has shown yet again that he knows the value of patience.


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