COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- So you thought the Blue Jays spent some money this off-season and made some strides?
Well, you were right.
While the Jays may be in the same league and division as the New York Yankees, the Yanks do their shopping in a completely different room. They go behind the velvet rope. They go into the art galleries and jewellery stores where items don't have price tags.
They go where Paris Hilton shops.
The Jays are not lining up for K-Mart blue-light specials, but yesterday showed what middle-of-the-road shoppers they still remain.
Toronto had to rent a mini bus to get this year's influx of talent north this past off-season.
In all, general manager J.P. Ricciardi committed $31.775 US million for 2006 to add Troy Glaus ($9.25 million), B.J. Ryan ($8 million), A.J. Burnett ($7 million), Bengie Molina ($5 million) and Lyle Overbay ($2.525 million).
The Yankees added possibly as much as $37.4 million yesterday afternoon for the services of Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu for this season and next.
New York will pay Abreu the roughly $4.4 million remaining on his 2006 contract, $15 million for 2007 and then they have a $16-million option -- or a $2-million buyout -- for 2008. So, at the very least, the Yankees are committed to $22.4 million.
Also, the Yankees added right-hander Cory Lidle, a veteran starter earning $3.3 million whom the Jays were looking at as today's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
New York gave up four minor leaguers in a deal that was a big-time salary dump on the part of the Phillies.
Phillies GM Pat Gillick dealt outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. in 1999 when he ran the Seattle Mariners, lost shortstop Alex Rodriguez as a free agent the following year and re-built the franchise into a 116-game winner in 2001.
The Jays had interest in Phillies right-hander Jon Lieber a couple of years back when he was coming off surgery and not dealing from a position of strength. Now, they'd have to pay the one-third remaining on his $7.25 million contract for this season and $7 million for 2007.
Now, it's Boston's turn.
And expect the Bosox to counter-punch.
Can the Jays sneak in a jab?
Possibly Livan Hernandez or Tony Armas of the Washington Nationals; Rodrigo Lopez of the Baltimore Orioles or Kip Wells of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Up here in the Adirondacks there was talk of the Red Sox moving Coco Crisp to the San Diego Padres for right-hander Chris Young and Scott Linebrink in a multi-player deal.
We remember writing in the spring -- when everyone gushed about the Jays adding Ryan, Burnett, Glaus, Overbay and Molina -- how the Yankees were not finished spending just yet.
New York has the resources to correct a mistake or an injury (Gary Sheffield likely is out for the year while Hideki Matsui hopes to return. Both have wrist injuries).
And you thought the Jays had a tough road on Saturday. They sat six games back of Boston and five behind the Yankees in the AL wild-card race.
Now, after Oakland A's Milton Bradley hit a three-run, walk-off homer off Ryan yesterday, the Jays head into Yankee Stadium for a three-game series tomorrow night 61/2 back of the Sox and 51/2 behind the Yanks in the wild-card race. Plus, they get a first-hand look at Abreu, the Yanks' new right fielder.
Abreu was hitting .277 with eight homers and 65 RBIs. He has 198 home runs and 841 RBIs over 10 seasons.
Lidle is 8-4 with a 4.74 ERA in 21 starts.
Abreu won the 2005 Home Run Derby, hitting a record 41 homers in Detroit. And then it was as if he lost his swing. He has 14 homers since, and has not homered since June 13.
All the Phillies received for Abreu and Lidle were lefty Matt Smith, righty Carlos Monasterios, shortstop C.J. Henry and catcher Jesus Sanchez. None are considered can't-miss, blue-chip prospects.
Smith split his time between the Yankees and their triple-A affiliate. In 12 appearances with the Yankees this season Smith was 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA.
Henry was hitting .232 with two homers and 33 RBIs at single-A Charleston. Sanchez and Monasterios, 20, were with the rookie-class Gulf Coast Yankees. Sanchez had .264 average in 23 games, and Monasterios was 1-2 with a 2.97 ERA in seven games.
The Yankees are better today than they were yesterday.
And for the Blue Jays, the hill just got a lot steeper.