I'm not saying I like it, or even that its a good move, but there is a strong possibility that Manny Ramirez will be in pinstripes next season. If I had my guess this is how the roster would look:
1b: Mark Teixeira
2b: Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter
3b: Alex Rodriguez
C: Jorge Posada/Jose Molina
LF: Manny Ramirez/Hideki Matsui
CF: Johnny Damon
RF: Xavier Nady
DH: Hideki Matsui/Hideki Matsui/Jorge Posada
SP: Chien Ming Wang
SP: CC Sabathia
SP: Andy Pettitte
SP: Alfredo Aceves
SP: Joba Chamberlain
Here's my thinking as to why the Yankees will go this route. Steinbrenner is impulsive. He's a Steinbrenner. On top of being impulsive, he shut down his impulses last season when he allowed Cashman to talk him out of Santana. Now he's not going to allow that to happen. Steinbrenner has seen Manny's ability to hit in the clutch and nothing, not his age, not his attitude, not the money, or years is going to stand in his way of getting Manny's bat into the lineup. It will be good for the short term Yankees, but not the long term, and I suspect it will be an unpopular decision.
As for signing Sabathia and Teixeira, the reason I think they'll bite is that number one, we need pitching and Sabathia is the best candidate out there. We need a first baseman and Teixeira is the best candidate out there. Have the Yankees been known for settling for second best?
Now this approach will dive us back into being unflexable, expensive, and full of free agent mercenaries, but on the flip side it won't cost us any of our current prospects, and allows us to develop the talent we now have. The only problem is that by signing these free agents, we lose draft picks, but let's be honest, I don't think Steinbrenner is convinced in the youth movement, and there's a lot of Yankee fans who are not either. Cashman can finish his experiment with his current prospect crop, but rebounding from this season will take more than some top draft picks in 2009. We need some major league talent now, the best of which is available via free agency.
If the Yankees don't bite on these free agents, then Cashman has been able to restrain Steinbrenner, but after last season I don't think it will be that easy.