(Who’s The Womack?)

Newsday’s Jim Baumback and Ken Davidoff report that the Yankees have signed free agent 2B, Tony Womack, 35, kicking Miguel Cairo to the curb in the process.

After announcing a little more than an hour before last night’s midnight deadline that they were not offering arbitration to Cairo, general manager Brian Cashman said, through a spokesman, “We’re going in a different direction.” Apparently, he was right.

At 35, Womack is five years older than Cairo, but has been a starting second baseman throughout his career and is coming off one of his best seasons. Playing for the Cardinals, he batted .307 in 553 at-bats and stole 26 bases in 31 attempts. He figures to slide into the leadoff spot in the Yankees’ lineup.

The Yankees last night offered arbitration only to righthanders Jon Lieber and Orlando Hernandez and outfielder Ruben Sierra so they could retain the rights to negotiate with them. The Yankees offered arbitration to Sierra with the understanding he will decline it.

Cairo’s absence on that list comes as a surprise, considering he entered the spring hoping to make the team, then played his way into the starting lineup by August. A player not offered arbitration cannot re-sign with the club until May 1 of next year.

But instead of going after free-agent Jeff Kent or Japanese second baseman Tadahito Iguchi or trying to trade for Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees went for Womack. After a month and a half of slow doings, the Yankees moved swiftly to sure up second base.

The Washington Post is reporting that New York has signed free agent P Jaret Wright, most recently with the Braves, to a 3 year pact worth $22.5 million. Wright was 15-8 for Atlanta in 2005, with a 3.28 ERA in 186 innings pitched.

The Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Minnesota will hang onto RHP Brad Radke, signing the 32 year old to a 2 year deal worth $18 million. Man, all this talk about money is making me wanna send a check to a cat rescue organization.