The New York Times’ Murray Chass, marvels at how the Yankees’ quarter billion dollar payroll has been propped up by pitchers making peanuts (in a zillionaire pro sportsman sense. Apologies to those who are really making peanuts).

Aaron Small, an emergency call-up from their minor league system in July, earned $149,180 for his remarkable 10-0 record. That was the prorated portion of the $350,000 salary his contract called for. Small, a 33-year-old right-hander, may get more from a postseason share than from his salary.

Chien-Ming Wang, who was a victim of errors and unearned runs in Game 2 of the division series against the Angels, joined the Yankees a few weeks into the season, compiled an 8-5 record and earned $274,557 based on the major league minimum salary of $316,000.

Shawn Chacon, whom the Yankees acquired in desperation from Colorado on July 28, had a $2.35 million salary with the Rockies, and the Yankees paid $860,382 of that. Al Leiter, obtained from the Marlins on July 16, cost the Yankees $1,678,291.

But remember the game Leiter pitched against the Red Sox the day after the trade, his 5-3 victory. Maybe that game was the one that enabled the Yankees to finish with a 10-9 record in the season series, an outcome that gave the Yankees first place over the Red Sox.

When the season began, the Yankees had a starting rotation whose collective 2005 salary of $64 million was higher than the entire payrolls of 14 of the other 29 teams. Gone from that rotation are Kevin Brown ($15,714,286), Carl Pavano ($9 million) and Jaret Wright ($5,666,667).

Other teams have griped about how the Yankees spend lavishly to overcome injuries, correct mistakes or bolster some questionable part of their team, but they haven’t done any of that this year.

They replaced $30,380,953 worth of starting pitchers with $1,284,119 worth of starting pitchers. Instead of criticism, they deserve accolades for fiscal responsibility.

Chass makes a strong point, but I’d have been even more impressed had the Yankees gone to greater lengths to get out from under some of those crushing salaries. Perhaps employing the woman that Denny Neagle paid $40 for a blowjob to hang out in front of Kevin Brown’s house.