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Sunday reading: Matt Holliday, George Steinbrenner, the Wilpons and Johnny Damon

My Sunday Insider, which is particularly oddly formatted this week, offers an explanation for why the Cardinals paid so much for Matt Holliday: They really thought, wrongly, that Holliday might sign a one-year, $20-million deal with the Yankees. There are also tidbits on Scott Boras, Johnny Damon, Brian Schneider, Pat Gillick and Gene Monahan.

--Here's my column on George Steinbrenner, his presence at the ballpark yesterday and how the Yankees are different without him.

--Here's the story I wrote on Damon. What I believe is, if Damon and Scott Boras had gone to the Yankees at the outset of the offseason and said, "OK, let's talk and figure out a way to continue this relationship," Damon could have gotten himself a two-year deal for about $19 million, for an annual average value of $9.5 million.

The Yankees wouldn't have signed Nick Johnson, leaving them $4 million above where they are now on their 2010 payroll. Maybe they would've traded or even non-tendered Sergio Mitre (making $850,000) to get them closer to their current payroll number (just under $200 million). But they would've found a way to make it work.

When Damon did his "Pay me!" shtick, though? The Yankees just didn't feel strongly enough about retaining him to do that dance.

In any case, there's no disputing that Damon and Boras botched this free agency, badly. And I don't buy the "With another good year, he'll get the sort of deal he wants" argument. Not when Damon will be 37 in a year.

--It's interesting that the Mets opened their wallets, even if only slightly, for Rod Barajas. Of course, Fred Wilpon, in a rare interview session yesterday, insisted that the Mets' wallets are just fine.

--Self-promotion alert: At noon today, I'll be on WFAN with Richard Neer. And at 10:30 tonight, I'll be on "Sports Extra," live from Tampa, on Fox 5 with Duke Castiglione.

UPDATE, 1:14 p.m.: Greetings from Red Sox camp. Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately), my blogging is going to be limited over the next few days because my laptop's power cord died. I'll be relying on the kindness of strangers - like, right now, The Boston Herald's John Tomase - to help me out until the new cord arrives on Tuesday.

Came here because Yankees camp is so quiet at the moment, and because I wanted to see the Red Sox before I returned home. Nothing huge going on with the Sawx; I'll have a column up later tonight.

A couple of interesting thoughts from Terry Francona, for the moment:

--On Johnny Damon signing with the Tigers: "I wish he went to the National League. Good signing for Detroit, though. Leyland is going to love him, immediately. I’m not sad he’s not in our division. You can talk all you want about his decreasing defensive skills, or however you want to say it. When he comes up to bat, it’s not a good feeling."

--On new-age statistics like UZR: "It’s more of a tool to evaluate, maybe in the winter. It’s not something that comes in play in the seventh inning."

--Asked about having a weapon like Victor Martinez, who hits well from both sides, Francona spoke of the value of having someone whom opposing managers can't match up against with relievers, and Francona's mind drifted south of Boston:

"You go into New York, you don’t match up with anybody in New York when you go into the bullpen. You’ve got to have relievers who can pitch. You can start matching up, but it doesn’t matter. That’s part of what makes them so good."

All I could think, when hearing that statement, was, "Hmmmmm...."



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