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December 24, 2008

Prospectus Today

A Holiday Surprise

by Joe Sheehan

It's not a classic, or even a movie I would describe as one of my favorites, but if I stumble upon Quiz Show while I'm flipping channels, I usually stay there for a while. The movie features a great story, some fantastic performances by the members of an ensemble cast-I'm partial to Rob Morrow as the self-made investigator dealing with issues of class and education in his interactions with the Van Doren family; and Paul Scofield as Mark Van Doren, the elite, even effete, academic father of the dashing protagonist-and some tremendous dialogue, particularly between Scofield and Ralph Fiennes as father and son. The movie, a docudrama about the 1950s scandal in which the game show Twenty-One, among others, was found to be rigged, with the producers supplying answers to contestants in advance and deciding which ones would win and for how many shows, holds up well over multiple viewings.

There's a scene in the film in which a contestant who has been told to give a wrong answer instead supplies the correct one, foiling the plot while on live television. Host Jack Barry, played convincingly by Christopher McDonald, is all set to turn to the opponent to get the correct response when he catches himself, pauses, turns, and goes back to the first contestant, asking in disbelief if he heard correctly. You can see the wheels turning..."You weren't supposed to say that, sir. Now what do I do?"

That was me at 3 p.m. yesterday. After expecting the wrong answer for months, I was astounded to learn that the Yankees had signed the best free agent on the market, a player who fills a need for them and who upgrades their team on both sides of the ball. The signing of A.J. Burnett seemed to close off the possibility of adding Mark Teixeira, given that it was their second major commitment to a pitcher in the previous two weeks. With $40 million per year worth of starting pitchers in hand, a $20 million-or-more per season first baseman didn't seem within reach. By inking Mark Teixeira to an eight-year deal worth $180 million, the Yankees cemented their position as the game's evil empire to the other 29 fan bases, and reaffirmed their commitment to their own. They made a decision that might eventually cause even more targeted rule changes, but one that is clearly the right one for their franchise.

This is the Yankees at their best: signing the top free agents on the market. They're leveraging not only the greater marginal revenue that can be generated by each win in New York City, but also their massive cash flow in an industry in which many, even most, teams are hoarding cash in an unsure economy. Other fans and other owners may complain, but the money is coming in; it can go into the team's pockets, or it can be used to improve the baseball team. If the scale doesn't work, change the scale-fix the revenue-sharing formulas to factor in market size and potential revenues, as Keith Woolner suggested forever ago-but don't blame a team for trying to win. Ever. For all of the focus on the $420-odd million the Yankees have committed to three players, their 2009 payroll won't be much more than the 2008 one, due to the absence of so many eight-figure salaries: Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Bobby Abreu, Andy Pettitte, and Carl Pavano all combined to make nearly $80 million last year.

Teixeira is at his peak, one he's expected to maintain for a few more seasons. Check out his PECOTA card, generated prior to the 2008 season, and both the stable performance expected in 2009-11 and the tiny rate of decline. Teixeira's fantastic 2008 season did nothing to lower expectations. He is as safe a bet as exists on the market, and when you also consider the defensive upgrade-Teixiera is generally a +10 to +15 defender, and he's replacing the brutal Jason Giambi-few teams had as much to gain from signing Teixeira as the Yankees did. Teixeira may lose a few points of batting average in the move to the AL East, but everything else will be the same. He's an inordinately safe investment for a free agent, which is a contrast to the contracts of Sabathia and Burnett.

This was simply a great baseball decision, and a great business one. The Yankees' focus on signing starting pitchers will do little more than maintain the status quo. Sabathia and Burnett replace Mussina and Pettitte, who combined to throw 404 innings of 3.90 ERA baseball last season. With Sabathia moving to a much tougher competitive environment and Burnett not pitching for a new contract, it's far from a lock that the two will combine to improve upon those rotation slots. The Yankees are paying just shy of $40 million next year just to maintain the run prevention they got at the front of the rotation a year ago. For the Yankee pitching to improve, the young starters-Joba Chamberlain, Philip Hughes, and Ian Kennedy should someone get hurt-will have to stay in the rotation and perform to expectations.

It's easy to say that these moves make the Yankees the favorite in the AL East, but it's not clear that's the case. The Red Sox have certainly had a quiet winter, but they also had many fewer holes to fill. From the primary contributors on the team that fell six innings shy of the World Series, the only guys they're losing are Coco Crisp and Jason Varitek; in both instances, the players are replaceable, and can even be improved upon. The Yankees have been active by necessity; the Red Sox have been quiet by choice. The Yankees appear to be basically even with the Red Sox now; the Sox' edge is in their defense, while the Yankees' lies in the likelihood that they'll score more runs. Both are ahead of the Rays, who are likely to regress a bit in '09 before being scary good in the years that follow.

If this winter signals that the Yankees are going to narrow their focus to the very best talent available and use their deep pockets to bring them into the fold, that's a very good thing for Yankee fans who spent too many years with Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright instead of Carlos Beltran. What it means for the industry is less clear, although the most shrill voices are almost certainly out of key.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  The Who,  Yankees Fans

105 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Richie

Last I heard was Pettitte is expected to re-up for another year as a Yankee. Folks now hearing otherwise??

Dec 24, 2008 10:59 AM
rating: 0
 
tommybones

I'm getting a bit tired of Pettitte's act. I'd take my chances on Hughes at #5...

Dec 24, 2008 11:03 AM
rating: -1
 
tommybones
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I'm still thinking the Yanks should move Melky and Cano for Kemp+ to play CF, then sign O-Dog to man 2nd for a couple of years until something better comes along.

C -Posada
1B - Teixeira
2B - Hudson
3B - ARod
SS - Jeter
LF - Damon/Swisher
CF - Kemp
RF - Swisher/Nady
DH - Matsui/Swisher

I like playing Nady only against lefties, otherwise keep him on the bench. Swisher plays every day and spells Damon or Matsui vs. lefties.

Dec 24, 2008 11:02 AM
rating: -12
 
DWrek5

Why do Yanks fans think everyone else wants Melky?
Dodgers just signed Blake and moved DeWitt to 2nd. Losing Kemp opens a HUGE hole for the Dodgers. One that Melky will never come close to filling.

Dec 24, 2008 11:07 AM
rating: 7
 
tommybones
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Melky's obviously not the main part of the deal, Cano is... Melky's a throw-in...

Dec 24, 2008 11:09 AM
rating: -6
 
DWrek5

If Cano is so good, why dont you guys want to keep him?
You said Cano and Melky for Kemp+. Plus what? That wasnt enough to get Kemp in the first place. You know the Dodgers covet prospects. So any talks for Kemp would start with Jackson, Hughes, and then we can start adding guys like the 305 OBP Cano.

Dec 24, 2008 11:18 AM
rating: 4
 
tommybones

You guys keep trowing reality onto my fantasy! I just love Kemp... and can't stand Damon in center. Dare to dream...

Dec 24, 2008 11:19 AM
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amazin_mess

Cano and Melky isn't even close. Do you even know how good Kemp is?

Dec 24, 2008 17:13 PM
rating: 0
 
tommybones
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Um, no... no I don't. That's why I stated "I Love Kemp," and am endorsing making a deal for him, which I admitted was a pipedream. But thanks for educating me. *sigh*

Dec 25, 2008 06:37 AM
rating: -4
 
amazin_mess

The thing is Cabrera is garbage. Cano is barely better than average at second. I'd say the Yankees could get Kemp, but it would be more like Phil Hughes and Cano - without Melky the Magnificent.

Dec 25, 2008 09:51 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Rumors of that Cano/Kemp deal have been debunked numerous times over the past two months. If you study the pattern of Colletti's recent dealings, the Dodgers have been in a mode where they'll surrender prospects -- unproven players at the major league level -- for veterans, but only when the trading team absorbs most of the money remaining on those deals (Manny, Maddux, Blake). I highly doubt the Yankees are going to eat Cano's deal just to have him gone and then overpay to sign a fading Type A player who would cost them draft picks, or that the Dodgers are going to surrender a proven major leaguer who's still under club control for another four years, as you're suggesting.

Dec 24, 2008 11:12 AM
 
tommybones
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Yeah, it's a stretch, I know... but can't blame me for hoping. I just can't deal with Damon's defense in CF. It's beyond painful. Jay, when are we gonna get a new article on Mussina's HOF chances? JAWS updates and so forth!

Dec 24, 2008 11:17 AM
rating: -5
 
hyprvypr
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fu yanks, think you can get every big name player out there... choke down another bad season

Dec 24, 2008 16:53 PM
rating: -11
 
amazin_mess

Rock on.

Dec 24, 2008 17:15 PM
rating: -2
 
hyprvypr
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Two homegrown players in that entire lineup. What a disgraceful franchise the CriebabyYankees have turned into. Keep throwing money at free agents(most of whom have seen their best years already) and keep choking down playoff losses. I relish the day when the Rays completely boot the Yanks into 3rd place annually.

Dec 24, 2008 16:58 PM
rating: -7
 
dmg2112

Cano, Jeter, Posada and Melky/Gardner. Plus Wang, Joba, Rivera and assorted bullpen arms. Adds up to a little more than two. Seems about the average number of homegrown players for a ballclub

Dec 24, 2008 18:17 PM
rating: 2
 
gluckschmerz

Right.... And the Pirates and Brewers can scramble for the rights to "Shoeless" Muntader Al-Zaidi. *sigh*

Dec 25, 2008 05:24 AM
rating: 0
 
MarinerDan

May we see another Pavano-esque FA failure grip the Evil Empire.

Obviously, the Teixeira signing was a good move, but we Yankees haters can hope...

Dec 24, 2008 11:02 AM
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DWrek5

I think before baseball fans jump off the deep end and demand rule changes, lets see what happens first. Remember the Tigers last season?

Dec 24, 2008 11:02 AM
rating: 7
 
LTF32968
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It's nice to see The Best Third-Place Team Money Can Buy finally making moves to be as good as the Red Sox. Maybe this time if they meet in the LCS and the Yanks go up 3-zip, the Bronx Bombers will find a way not to blow the series...

Dec 24, 2008 11:14 AM
rating: -5
 
juiced

Joe, I agree that you can't blame the Yankees for trying to win within the system we have, but I dont believe the criticisms of the system itself amount to "shrill voices". There is something incredibly wrong about a revenue allocation system in a competitive sports industry that permits one team to be systematically more competitive than the others. The problem is ownership sits on its hands and doesnt implement a system like Woolner suggests. Think of the problem this way. Every single fantasy baseball league that starts up puts each team on even footing...i.e., with equal budget money to start the year. That way its a skill contest to see whose evaluation skills are best. You never see a league where one team is allocated 200 dollars to spend every single year, the next highest team 130, the average team 80, some teams stuck at 50. I defy you or any other prospectus types to claim that that is fair, particularly since the rich team, like the Yankees, is just as likely to engage in sabermetric evaluation as any other.

Dec 24, 2008 11:17 AM
rating: 2
 
cbirkemeier

Comparing real baseball to fantasy baseball does not make for a good argument. I'm not saying that I am completely opposed to your belief that all teams should start on equal footing, but I do disagree with your argument.

If you start to look at the economics behind baseball, you start to realize that MLB is closer to a free market than any other sports league. While a completely free market is not ideal for a sports league (due to needing a sense of competitiveness in smaller markets and a lack of predictability from season-to-season), there are also good reasons for not starting all teams at an equal level. For example, if MLB wants to satisfy a maximum number of fans, it makes sense for large-market teams to win more championships than small-market teams simply because they have more fans.

There is a balance somewhere between a free market and a salary cap. MLB has tried to find that balance before, but they need to revisit the situation a little more often than every four or five years.

Dec 24, 2008 11:35 AM
rating: 2
 
juiced

I am absolutely opposed to salary caps as a solution. Players should be able to competitively shop their servcies, and if the market bears it, get big money and freedom to move. I AM a huge proponent of redoing the revenue distribution system to prevent the Yankee domination. That doesnt necessarily have to take the form of higher luxury taxes either. But it DOES involve greater sharing of the local broadcasting revenue that the big market teams hoard to themselves. If the other 29 teams said "hey Yankees, go play with yourself, not us, if you wont share a much greater share of your local broadcasting revenue" as Bill James has repeatedly suggested, then the Yankees could, in a free market, elect to depart the leave and see if they could make as much money by creating their own competition. Or they could realize that they only make so much money because they have other teams to play in Mlb, and those other teams have a right to demand a far greater share of the Yankees' pie that they help make possible. But MLB has chosen to let each team go at it atomistically, and competitive balance suffers as a result. You can have both....no evil salary caps but with smaller market teams banding together and forcing the Yankees to the table.

Dec 24, 2008 11:45 AM
rating: 4
 
saigonsam

If baseball was a free market, then other teams would be allowed to either move or enter the New York market. I believe I read somewhere that it would take about 7 other teams in and around New York City to make the playing field fair.

Dec 24, 2008 11:53 AM
rating: 5
 
juiced

Excellent point. The Yankees only get to keep their territorial rights per agreement with the other clubs. They have no inherent right to a territory. Thus, the other clubs can refuse to play them if they don't share their broadcast revenue more extensively. That is as free of a market as the current system, no govt intervention involved, and has the added advantage of levelling out the revenue playing field.

Dec 24, 2008 13:29 PM
rating: 1
 
JayhawkBill

MLB is not close to a free market.

Were it a free market, I would enter it tomorrow, positioning my team in Brooklyn or Newark and asking to be placed into the NL Central. It would be a rough couple of years without any expansion draft, but with high draft picks and the massive New York metro area market, within about half a decade I'd have a team worth a couple hundred million dollars or more, and I bet that I'd be winning half (or more) of my games.

OK, barriers to entry preclude that--one can't just "join the NL." I'd like to move the Milwaukee Brewers to Newark, then. I'd also like to move the KC Royals to Mexico City. Each team would be far more competitive with their new market.

What? Moving a team takes league approval? That's not a free market--it's a Congressionally-sanctioned exemption to anti-trust laws. And, because it's not a free market, unless the leagues (or the lawmakers) take action to ensure competitive balance, the current situation will continue.

Dec 24, 2008 12:55 PM
rating: 5
 
Aaron/YYZ

I agree. I would guess that the happy medium here is to have a Luxury Tax with more teeth (such that more of the high spending teams are taxed than just the Yankees and one other team that got a little too free with the purse strings and gets a slap on the wrist) and a better revenue sharing system that takes into account both market size and the work of the team to reap value from their market. Of course, it would also help if your revenue sharing agreements forced teams to re-invest their received monies in the product on the field rather than pocketing it.

A higher baseline from bleeding money off the high revenue teams and redistributing it to the lower revenue teams would (in theory) level the economic playing field more such that success would be more dependent on proper management and talent evaluation. Of course, the short term effect would be an increase in salaries to rather marginal free agents so the owners would never go with this.

Dec 24, 2008 19:02 PM
rating: 0
 
Trieu

This is shrill (overstating a point).

First, the Yankees success over the last decade had at its foundation player development and scouting, not money. The core of the good teams consisted of Jeter, Bernie, Posada, Pettite, Rivera, etc. Certainly the money helped build on top of this (e.g., Clemens), but the bulk of the work was done with development and scouting. The Braves have been similarly successful at reaching the postseason in the NL. If you want to eliminate one team being "systematically more competitive" than the others, then you should also be advocating lobotomies for the smart GMs in the game.

Secondly, who cares about a "fair" (as in, redistributionist) system? I don't. And, more importantly, fans don't. The game is now as popular as it's ever been, despite the ever increasing spending of the NY clubs. I don't want MLB run like a fantasy league. That would be atrocious.

Dec 24, 2008 11:45 AM
rating: 0
 
juiced

As a Pirates fan, one cares.

Dec 24, 2008 11:47 AM
rating: 2
 
Trieu

Your team is indeed terrible, though not because of its limited payroll. It's because the Pirates had a horrible GM for such a long time. Things are turning around now not because the Pirates are spending more money, but because they got smarter with Huntington. In fact, when the Pirates under Littlefield did spend money, it seemed to hurt the club (e.g., Matt Morris) just as often as it helped.

Dec 24, 2008 11:52 AM
rating: 2
 
JayhawkBill

It’s an interesting premise that the Pirates are bad and that the Yankees are good for reasons irrespective of payroll.

I decided to check it out. Per USA Today, the Yankees had an Opening Day payroll of $209,081,577 last year, while the Pirates had a payroll of $48,689,783, a difference of just over $160 million. That difference in salaries would roughly translate into a Yankees team without their nine top-paid players: Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui. Those nine players, whose salaries were slightly less than the $160 million difference in payrolls, combined for 48.4 WARP1. The difference between the two teams last year was 22 wins, so at first glance it seems that the payroll more than accounts for the difference.

Certainly there are other factors, including Yankees prospects who might have earned more WARP1 with more playing time and the strength of the respective divisions, but 48.4 WARP1 represents a lot of wins. It’s tough to escape the point that the big Yankees payroll is a major factor in its multi-year dominance of MLB’s toughest division.

Dec 24, 2008 13:31 PM
rating: 5
 
jerrykenny

Why don't you compare the Pirates payroll to that of the Tampa Bay Rays, who finished two places above the Yankees in regular season play and made it to the World Series, or that of the Milawaukee Brewers who finished well ahead of the Pirates in their division and also made the playoffs. Now what's the excuse?

By the way, the Pirates beat the Yankees 2 out of three games last year

Dec 24, 2008 14:38 PM
rating: -1
 
juiced

The difference between the Pirates and the Yanks is that the Yanks can make a ton of boneheaded evaluations and spend their way out of it. The fact that Tampa succeeds in one year out of 15 doesnt take away from the Yanks ability to spend its way into contention every year. Heck the Yanks dramatically underperform, they really should be in the Series every single year with the ability to outspend the average team by about 2.5 to 1.

Dec 24, 2008 14:41 PM
rating: 1
 
jerrykenny

Yes, the Yankees DO underperform. As a Yankee fan I'm painfully aware of that. You're making my points for me - namely that having big money to spend doesn't mean it will be spent wisely and that good decision making is the key.

The problem for the Yankees and other big market teams is that since they often do not get access to the premium payers in the draft because of their high draft position (OK, the Yankees have compounded this by making poor selections among the choices they did have) they often find themselves in the position of having to fill a key position, 1B in this case, through free-agency or a salary-dump trade.

There's no need for the Yankees to apologize for signing Sabathia or Teixeira (Burnett might be another story). The Teixeira signing avoids the mistake they made with Carlos Beltran 4 years ago. They still don't have a CF.

Yes, teams in cities like Tampa Bay, Milawaukee and Pittsburgh won't be able to contend every year. Their advantage is that they are often in a position to rebuild through the draft, supplemented by key trades and modest free-agent pickups like Carlos Pena. Do you think the Yankees would like to have BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, David Price or Ryan Braun?

The Yankees get beat up just as bad in the media when they collapse into a re-building mode (remember the Stump Merrill years?) and in any case, their business model won't allow it any more. No one is going to pay hundreds of dollars per game to watch the Andy Stankiweiczs and Matt Gallegos of the world in pinstripes. I'm not really defending this situation because I don't like it either but it is what it is.

Pittsburgh has been mismanaged for nearly 20 years. It's absurd to expect them to be able to compete for the premium major-league free agents but when they give big money to guys like Pat Meares and Matt Morris, use a permium draft slot to pick a John van Benschoten and try to convert him to a pticher, well now you're talking about self-inflicted wounds. The guys running that team have been content to make a profit by pocketing revenue-sharing and luxury tax money (a big hunk of it from the Yankees) and not invest in the team. You could have given those guys all the revenues of the YES network and Derek Jeter memorabilia and they would still have finished last. It's completely fair to compare their performance to other small market teams that have done a much better job.

Dec 25, 2008 06:50 AM
rating: 1
 
JayhawkBill

While I was responding to a series of posts that had extolled the virtues of Yankees management and the shortcomings of Pirates, one could look at the performance of large-market teams and small-market teams in 2008.

Looking back at Nate Silver's excellent articles on market size:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6182
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6225

The biggest markets are New York, LA, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and, for media market purposes only, Atlanta and Washington DC. Six of the eight playoff teams were from the five biggest attendance markets. Of the eight teams from the five biggest markets, the only two missing the playoffs were the New York teams, and they missed postseason play by very thin margins indeed. All of the playoff teams from the major-market cities had high payrolls.

It truly seems that the Rays and the Brewers are the exceptions, well-managed smaller-market teams able to reach the playoffs--but not able this year to win a World Series--on years when things "came together." But when 75% of the teams from major markets and only 9% of the teams from all other markets reach the Divisional Series, it seems that revenue plays an overwhelming role in determining which teams can compete.

Dec 24, 2008 17:04 PM
rating: 2
 
jerrykenny

Yeah, I would agree that the Yankees' management is overrated (believe me, as a Yankee fan, I know this very well). There's also no with arguing Nate's statistics on playoff appearances. The point is that the Pirates are not really in competition with the Yankees for a playoff spot. They don't even play in the same league and only meet for an occasional inter-league series every few years. Unless the Pirates make the World Series in a year that the Yankees do what goes on in the Bronx is completely irrelevant to them.

Being able to sign a Mark Teixeira or a CC Sabathia wouldn't help the Pirates. Even at a heavily discounted price those guys would be an appalling waste of resources for the Pirates or the Marlins or the Nationals. How many years did Teixeira play in Texas (a better team than the Pirates) without the Rangers making the playoffs? These are guys you sign to fill in a key missing piece not to build around when you're a non-contender.

The Pirates need to focus on finding the NEXT Teixeira the way the Rays focused on finding guys like BJ Upton, Evan Longoria and David Price by maximizing the advantage they had in their low draft position. This the Pirates have failed miserably in.

I disagree with your final point about the Rays and Brewers being exceptions. For one thing, the Rays with the core of young players they have (and trust me, the Yankees would kill to get some of them) will be in contention for a while although they will not make the playoffs every year. We've seen the Twins and A's make multiple playoff appearances in the last decade so it can be done.

Dec 25, 2008 07:07 AM
rating: -1
 
Austin (Raleigh)

Please don't include the Marlins with the Pirates and Nationals.

signed - fan with 2 world series championships in the last 11 years.

Dec 29, 2008 11:24 AM
rating: 0
 
juiced

The Twins have had an even b etter player development system but they dont add the free agent pieces the way the Yankees can, and accordingly are less competitive. The Yankees derive a HUGE competitive advantage simply from being able to outspend their mistakes in a way that Billy Beane cannot. Let's get real here.

Dec 24, 2008 11:49 AM
rating: 2
 
Trieu

Okay, let's get real. The Twins are owned by one of the richest men in America. Were the Twins to sign Teixeira (not that they have a need at 1B), it'd be equivalent to a rounding error in Carl Pohlad's wealth total. The Twins don't spend big because they don't want to, not because they can't.

Dec 24, 2008 12:08 PM
rating: 4
 
juiced

Get real yourself. You fail to admit that the Yankees greater revenue stream allows them to spend far more than all teams, not just Pohlad's crew.

Dec 24, 2008 13:32 PM
rating: -3
 
Trieu

You brought up the Twins, I didn't. I was just refuting your point about the Twins.

I didn't fail to admit anything. I already acknowledged previously that the NY clubs have much greater financial resources than the other teams. I just don't really care, and I think the advantage is completely overblown.

Dec 24, 2008 16:45 PM
rating: -1
 
Patrick

True. But a bad example doesn't negate the premise.

Dec 24, 2008 13:39 PM
rating: 0
 
afl57cedar

please the yankees under the boss tried to dominate baseball with power and control, george was trying to break the game just like mhe did the shippping industry, there is no salary cap because the yankees use politics of baseball to make sure there will never be one, if lachino, scommittee did not chsnge thr revenue sharing the game would of been ruined, to say money does not give the yankees an advantage is pure foolishness,they also robbed the city of new york when bloomberg sold out his own city for the yankees,the yankees have a fan base of 30 million and the biggest media outlet in the history of the world to say they do not have advantages over the other teams is totally ridiculous yankee fans are entitled cry babies and front runners they will lose again

Dec 24, 2008 14:42 PM
rating: 0
 
czarandy

I agree. People seem to ignore that there are other sources of "unfairness" than money, probably because only economic causes are easy to fix.

Dec 24, 2008 11:50 AM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

Are you calling Brian Cashman a good GM?

He's the same guy that signed Pavano and Wright. Played Melky, resigned Pettitte. He's average AT BEST.

Dec 24, 2008 20:06 PM
rating: 1
 
Justice

I have a question for Mr. Sheahan -- is "shrill" a polite way of saying anti-Yankee? Revenue sharing is a difficult concept to discuss with Yankee fans and many Yankee supporters too quickly dismiss discussions of revenue sharing as anti-Yankee screeds.

Yes, the Yankees are playing within the rules but that is not the point. The question is whether the rules serve the best interests of baseball. The current rules regarding local media revenue give one team (the Yankees) a ridiculously unfair advantage, give several teams (e.g., Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs)a fighting chance and place the vast majority of teams behind the proverbial 8-ball. How can that possibly make the sport better? How does that possibly benefit the fans of Kansas City or are those fans simply not as important as Yankee fans?

Dec 24, 2008 14:30 PM
rating: 5
 
webcor1
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For all of you who might still think the Yankees are, somehow, immoral or unethical for spending the way they do, consider this: there was nary an outcry of "evil" or "hypocrisy" when the Red Sox bid $50mil to purchase the rights to Dice-K. What had been the second highest bid. . .$32mil???
In other words, a couple of years ago, the Red Sox spent 50% more than any other team in bidding for Dice-Ks services. That is the equivalent of the Yanks having offered Tex $270mil, rather than $180mil.
Sure. You could argue that the numbers are smaller and, therefore, don't mean as much. But you'd sound foolish, because the principle involved is exactly the same: spend what you can, do what you have to do, to build the best possible team.
That's what ownership/front offices are supposed to do. It's what the Yankees do. And the Red Sox and the Oakland As, and the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Yankees have to pay a premium on any player they sign. that's a given. Unless the earth turns on its axis sometime soon, that's how it's going to be.
If the Yankees COULD spend $40mil less per season on it's 40, or so, players, they would. But they can't.
The Yankees' fan base expects the best. Yankees' fans don't expect a competitive team, or even a really, really good team that's got a good shot at the post-season. They expect the best team. And Cashman and Co. understand that very well. You've got to give them credit for that.

Dec 25, 2008 17:20 PM
rating: -4
 
Random

The operative term is "fantasy".

Dec 27, 2008 15:47 PM
rating: 0
 
tommybones

What's with the parenthetical numbers under our names?

Dec 24, 2008 11:22 AM
rating: -1
 
eighteen

I asked BP about that a couple months ago, and was told it's just a random number assigned to each user. The number apparently serves some kind of data purpose, but doesn't signify anything about the user.

Dec 25, 2008 13:06 PM
rating: 0
 
Evan
(47)

That seems implausible. I would bet they're assigned sequentially.

The authors who've been around for a long time (like Joe) have low numbers, and longtime subscribers (like me) have low numbers.

Dec 29, 2008 09:17 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

The number is your userid in our system. As Evan guesses it's more-or-less sequential. Thanks for being with us for so long, Evan!

Dec 29, 2008 09:52 AM
 
J Scott

I'm afraid I don't exactly, precisely, get the "The Yankees are spending $40 million to replace what they got from the top-of-the-rotation (Mussina - Pettitte) last year" thingee. First, of course, it isn't $40 million, it's more like $40 million minus the $28 million Mussina - Pettitte made last year. That's, like, $12 million. Second, since Sabbathia was much better than Mussina last year and Burnett was much better than his counterpart in this comparison, and since both are much younger, why it isn't reasonable to think that the added $12 million in payroll won't be visible on the field...well, all I'll say is that it's by no means obvious to me.

Dec 24, 2008 11:29 AM
rating: 1
 
sliver

"This is the Yankees at their best: signing the top free agents on the market."

Heh heh. I could have hardly have come up with an encomium more laden with unwitting self-deprecation. Awesome.

Dec 24, 2008 11:36 AM
rating: 0
 
czarandy

Marcel gives:
Mussina/Pettitte: 358 IP, 4.33 ERA
Sabathia/Burnett (adjusting for the AL for Sabathia): 398 IP, 3.73 ERA

That's a *lot* better.

Dec 24, 2008 11:46 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

The comparison is to the 2008 performance, which was 404/3.90 or so. No one's arguing Mussina/Pettitte over Sabathia/Burnett in 2009. But the latter two's performance has to be awfully good to replace those 404 innings in 2009.

My pessimism stems from being leery of Burnett's IP, and of the pretty big jump Sabathia will be taking in competitive context. It's not just adjusting to the AL, but the AL East.

The Yankees' problem last year wasn't the front of the rotation. Not by a long shot. Structurally, nothing's changed; the top two should be better, but not in a fortune-changing way. I suspect missing the competition change for Sabathia and buying into Burnett's innings are the issues, as well as not appreciating just how good Pettitte and Mussina were in their context.

Dec 24, 2008 11:56 AM
 
J Scott

"Structurally" something figures to change significantly. That's the return to full-time work of Wang. I know it's an obvious point, but since you didn't mention his name anywhere in your analysis of the front-of-the-rotation I thought that perhaps he had slipped down the memory hole. Wang figures to slip into the #2 slot behind C.C.. Burnett projects as #3. Simply projecting Wang with his normal complement of innings, adding to C.C. and Burnett...I don't know but to me that figures to be a significant upgrade over what the Yankees got last year.

Dec 24, 2008 12:17 PM
rating: 3
 
sturock
(43)

Does it really matter? Don't the Yankees sign top free agents or trade for A-Rod or something every year?

Plus, there's an air of desperation around the franchise right now. Their much-vaunted player development system just doesn't seem to come up with the stars that Tampa Bay and Boston can produce. They need to go out onto the market and get the top items available. (Is there any doubt they're gonna get in the Manny conversation now?)

Dec 24, 2008 11:52 AM
rating: -1
 
Teraxx

re sturock:

Actually, the Yanks don't go out and grab the top free agents every year (or even the best trade targets, as in J. Santana last off-season). In fact, they've been relatively quiet on that score the last few years, outside of the Clemens pickups. But, the Yankee lineup is aging. They didn't have a true #1 starting pitcher...Giambi left, creating a massive lineup and positional hole at 1st *no offense to Swisher, which is another deal I love*. Did they overpay or overextend in terms of contract length for CC, AJ, Tex? I think AJ got 2 too many years and too much per season and Tex doens't justify a 23 million dollar per year salary...But, I think these moves were dictated much more out of true perceived necessity by the front office whereas 5 or so years ago (or more) they would grab whomever they thought were 'the best' free agents, even if in reality, they weren't OR they would sign players they didn't truly need.

Dec 24, 2008 12:14 PM
rating: 1
 
JOEVAND

Wouldn't it be refreshing if Tex chose the Nats if the money was equal! To be the new face of a dormant franchise must have some "honor" attached to it. AS long as the Yankees play "checkbook" baseball without a salary cap, the Nats or Pirates, or Royals will always be left holding the bag......

Dec 24, 2008 13:23 PM
rating: -3
 
Matt Hunter

It wouldn't be refreshing to me, I like my athletes to be competitive and want to win.

Dec 25, 2008 11:28 AM
rating: 1
 
jayman4

Sorry, Juiced has it nailed. As a Padres fan, with many of the smart guys from Money Ball, we really have to pick and choose our shots in a way a major franchise does not worry about. They get to make baseball decisions, and can absorb the financial impact. Smaller teams have to make baseball decisions constrained by finances. The Padres just dumped Greene for some middle-relief sop, strictly to avoid $6m. They have no in-system back up, and will probably do their best with a replacement level replacement. Funny, I rarely read about major market teams having to make such moves.

This system is broken and salary caps are not the solution. But people who claim this is a free market are way off. Baseball has an anti-trust agreement allowing it to explicitly not compete and that non-competition greatly favors big market teams. I go back and forth on trades with a Mets fan, but he stops chatting when he has to acknowledge that all his team has to do is try to make his team better while my team has to try to make its team better and manage its finances.

Is it coincidence that all the major FA's end up at major market teams? Of course not, and this is an unfair system.

Dec 24, 2008 14:07 PM
rating: 7
 
Schlom

They dumped Greene not only because he is making $6m a season but also because he was absolutely terrible last season and at his best, about a league average SS. Don't leave that part out since it is really the more important factor.

Dec 24, 2008 14:58 PM
rating: 0
 
Dougie4512

It's one of the factors, but not the most important factor when the principal owner is going through a publicized divorce that is causing him to cut back on payroll by 25%-50%. That may be outside of the general discussion, but pertaining specifically to Greene, it's very relevant.

Dec 25, 2008 18:52 PM
rating: 1
 
Random

Indeed -- exceptional circumstances that undermine rather than support jayman4's point.

Dec 27, 2008 16:08 PM
rating: 0
 
Trieu

The Rockies, D-backs, and Giants all finished well ahead of the Padres in the NL West in 2008. The Padres also outspent all of those teams in 2008. The D-backs, who spent the least in the West, finished only two games out of first place.

If it's all about the money, how come the Padres finished well behind these teams that it significantly outspent? Here's a thought: Perhaps the Padres management isn't as smart as you think.

Dec 24, 2008 17:00 PM
rating: 1
 
Justice

In the 1950's, the Yanks used the old Kansas City A's as their farm team. Prior to the creation of the amateur draft in 1965, the Yanks used their financial clout to corner virtually the entire market of young talent. The Yanks' K.C. farm teams in the '30's were far better than several struggling major league teams. By the 1950's, the Yanks' stranglehold on talent did not benefit the game. Without competitive balance in the games, franchises struggled at the gate and several re-located.

Ironically, from the inception of the amateur draft in 1965 through the beginning of free agency, the Yankees found themsleves with Horace Clarke at 2B, Roger Repoz in the outfield and, more often than not, in the second division.

The local revenue stream from New York gives the Yankees the kind of clout they had before 1965. This is not a happy day for those of us who want to see a level playing field that gives all of the teams a chance to succeed or fail on their own merits. Isn't that what most of us found compelling about baseball in the first place?

Dec 24, 2008 14:34 PM
rating: 3
 
Jeff Evans

There's a lot of people that believe the draft should be abolished - it's a free market, right? The very large-market teams (guess who) could then use this system to spend the same massive dollars to lock up many more players and dominate the player market, similar to how it used to be. Only moreso in these current times. A guy like Carl Pohlad might have more money than a Steinbrenner, but he has a different mindset and isn't going to burn it for less profit than a large-market owner would recieve. Those of us that grew up and remain fans of small-market teams usually laugh at and are disgusted with the gripes of those that follow large-market teams. Period. And we wish our owners would still have the ego to say "to hell with it" and spend the same amount of capital.

Dec 27, 2008 16:16 PM
rating: 0
 
BoSoxRS

Look, there are so many different angles to be argued here, I don't believe any one point of view is entirely right, or entirely wrong. I'm a Red Sox fan, and am used to the Yankees machinations. This is nothing "new", and I really feel that a combination of the current economic recession and the dizzying increase in Team/FA salaries over the past 10 years has created a perfect storm in which we have so many voices (GM's) from both leagues around the sport chiming in on how "something needs to be done". Yankees brass and their "vocal" fanbase is always quick to point out the millions in revenue luxury tax that are given back to the poorer teams (this tax is in dire need of adjustments that factor in market size, currently the Yanks just keep exceeding the limits and paying their dues, and they could care less), and i've heard many say how most teams *could* afford a $70-$80 million dollar payroll if they wanted to, they just choose to be greedy and keep the money for themselves. These statements are simultaneously not untrue, but are also complete banket statements designed to shut up less informed fans who just have a "gut feeling" that the Yankees ability to spend more on 3 players than the entire salaries of at least 14 major league teams (and more on 1 player, A-Rod, than that of the ENTIRE Florida Marlins) is just *wrong*. As a Red Sox fan, i've got a bit of that Johnny Damon "egg in the face" feeling for having once again been outbid (or snaked) by a "mere" $12 million, only about a $1.2 million increase per year over an 8 year contract. But the fact of the matter is, there are 4 very important things to keep in mind: 1)'Emotional spending' is not something to be advocated, and it rarely leads to a long-yielding investment, the Red Sox have their limits and a plan, and we're going to stick to it 2)We've got Lowell and Youkilis. I'll take those corner position players any day, sure Lowell's getting old, but our defense is still superior. And Youk's numbers project very well. 3)Teixeira didn't want to come to Boston and be a Red Sox for personal and financial reasons, we do not need another 'Manny' around. He was FAR from a 'perfect fit'. 4)As wonderful a tool as PECOTA is, a team "on paper" is just that. Look at the '08 Tigers. Anything can happen, the Yankees have been leading the league in payroll for years, and is hasn't resulted in a Championship in 8. And their new rotation is an elbow tweak or a rotater cuff away from having pretty big questions marks in the 4th and 5th rotation spots.

So, i'm not at all scared of these Yankees and their new half a billion dollar trio. And i'm excited that they probably won't stink it up like they did last season. The rivalry was starting to feel stale. In terms of addressing the salary issues, i've been hearing some talk of an INDIVIDUAL salary cap. Something like $25 million a year limit. The agents would HATE it, but I think it would be interesting. Imagine if Tex had had to publicly choose between equal offers from the Yanks, Sox, O's & Nats? Its just an idea, and it certainly has its flaws, but few people (outside of those darling Yankee fans) could sit there and argue with a straight face that our beloved ballplayers NEED to make more than $25 million dollars a year. And I feel that it is so much more rewarding to get production from a homegrown player than to just go out and garrishly purchase "good numbers". But that is truly just my opinion. I think the NYY'll obviously do whatever they can to win (Cashman's "do it ourselves" ethos withered after one dismal [by Yankee standards] season). But that's why baseball is the best. Even as the only sport without a salary cap, its still up in the air every year, and it comes down to that perfect combination of talent, preparation, guts and luck.

Dec 24, 2008 14:46 PM
rating: -1
 
Schlom

A Red Sox fan complaining about the Yankees spending too much money. I guess next we'll see postings by the Dodger, Angel and Cub fans complaining about the same.

Dec 24, 2008 15:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Schlom

Ultimately signing free agents is a losing proposition since you are paying for what a player has done instead of what they are going to do. Now maybe the Yankees huge financial advantage will allow them to pay $20m a year for a player to go away, but I'm not sure that's true.

For all the doom and gloom about how Teixeira guarantees the Yankees to be the best team in baseball history, why don't we look at the last 28 year old superstar 1B to sign a huge multi-year contract. This player was a better hitter, better fielder and more durable than Teixeira. This player was Todd Helton, who the Rockies owe $56.9m for the next three season (plus his 2012 buyout). That didn't work out so well for the Rockies, did it?

Dec 24, 2008 14:54 PM
rating: 0
 
godfather

it was union greed that kept arod from going to bawston, beanhead; and they didn't get dice-k for sushi; and their offer for the big cubano who couldn't grip ny was more than the yanks'.....go fish...yhey love nyy in the villain role, hypocrites that they be

Dec 24, 2008 16:17 PM
rating: -2
 
amazin_mess

Yankees fans can stick Beltran...you're never getting him.

Dec 24, 2008 17:36 PM
rating: -1
 
amazin_mess

One thing's for sure...we may not know how the AL east will stack up ...but we know Yankees hatred will be at an all-time high.

Dec 24, 2008 18:29 PM
rating: 0
 
jayman4

For people bashing the Padres brass, I am not saying they are flawless. The did win the West twice while spending less than the Dodgers. But, the management takes its bets on draft picks, trades, FA, etc. Some will work, others will not. The better the management, the more often it will work. But, big market teams get the added benefit of filling in the gaps with FA or, taking good players in lopsided trades because the other side is doing a salary dump. In addition, they can afford to pay draftees top dollar to sign them, an agonizing choice for smaller market teams.

In any individual season, chance, injuries, player variation, etc. all play a huge factor. And some big market teams are managed much worse than some smaller teams. But if you combine smarts and money, look at Boston. Theo Epstein (former Padres asst. GM) and that crew have combined the two, and while Boston does not win every year, they are in the hunt every year.

The only way small market teams can compete is to invest heavily in the drafts, get a quality team that is under the FA age, and add some talent from the market or trades. That was how Arizona has been competing and now Tampa Bay. The trick is, this is what everyone is trying to do, so doing it better than everyone else is extremely hard. So, if you are rich team, and you have some holes from your farm, go and buy some replacements. If you are a poor team, tough luck, and re-start the re-building.

Dec 24, 2008 18:34 PM
rating: 1
 
Joe

My initial thoughts:

This signing is sad for baseball as a whole, not the best event for the future of baseball. Very Sad. I would love to see all the teams have a chance to win every year. We need balance between teams. Time to change the rules about free agents. How about a HARD salary cap? Baseball can not continue with just a few teams competing.

Dec 24, 2008 20:31 PM
rating: -3
 
jerrykenny

World Series winners since 2000:

2001: Arizona Diamondbacks (1998 expansion team)
2002: Anaheim Angels (first-time appearance and winner)
2003: Florida Marlins (1993 expansion team; 2nd WS win)
2004: Boston Red Sox
2005: Chicago White Sox (1st WS since 1959; 1st win since 1917)
2006: St. Louis Cardinals
2007: Boston Red Sox
2008: Philadelphia Phillies (beat Tampa Bay Rays)

What was that again about needing to "see all the teams [having] a chance to win"?

And how would you like a HARD salary cap in YOUR profession?

Dec 25, 2008 07:16 AM
rating: -2
 
jerrykenny

I should have added that:

1) The Cardinal's opponent in 2006 was the Detroit Tigers who hadn't been in a World Series since 1984 and had lost 91, 90 and 119 games the previous three seasons.

2) The Red Sox' opponent in 2007 was the Colorado Rockies, also a 1993 expansion team, who were making their first World Series appearance.

You're argument is completely counterfactual.

Dec 25, 2008 07:21 AM
rating: 0
 
Justice

Yes, revenue sharing and the luxury tax have pushed the sport toward more competitive balance. Unfortunately, the Yankees and their latest spending spree are pushing the sport hard in the other direction. The Yankees are part of the problem, not the solution.

Don't the Yankees now have the four largest contracts in the sport on the payroll? How many other teams have a budget that exceeds the combined salaries of A-Rod, Jeter, Teixera and Sabathia?

And one more thing -- other teams have certainly worked hard to build up their markets. Kansas City and Milwaukee are, however, only as big as they are. The population of those metropolitan areas of those cities cannot match the population of the New York area. Why should competition in baseball be a function of geography?

Moreover, the Yankees can build up their market all they want. They still need teams to play them on their homestands. Apparently, some of the pro-Stenbrenner-profligate spending posters here don't care if the Yankees play some high school team from upstate New York so long as the Yankees benefit. That's just dandy.

Over the Yankees' profound and stubborn opposition, baseball has had more competitive balance in the last decade. But as many posters have observed, there is a tipping point where no one else can compete with the Yanks. Is that tipping point $200 million? $250 million? $300 million? $350 million? I don't know but I do know that this situation will harm the sport long term and may well cause a strike in 2011.

Dec 26, 2008 08:35 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt Hunter

But the relationship between money and players is not valued correctly. They have the 4 biggest contracts, does that mean they have the 4 best players? When they start to spend all their money smartly it will shift the balance in the way you talk about.

Dec 26, 2008 09:07 AM
rating: 0
 
West21

A wise man once predicted, once the Red Sox and Yankees learn how to spend their money wisely, there will be no hope for small market teams.

Dec 24, 2008 20:52 PM
rating: 0
 
bflaff

If Hank Steinbrenner owned the Anaheim Angels, and Arte Moreno owned the New York Yankees, where would Teixeira be playing next year?

The Steinbrenners spend money to make money. Trying to penalize them for working hard to maximize revenue is silly. If it's just a matter of being in NY, why don't the Mets spend like the Yankees?

Dec 24, 2008 21:09 PM
rating: 0
 
montanabowers

bflaff, your argument doesn't hold water. If it were just a matter of the teams and the fans that those teams bring to the stadium, it would be a much more level playing field. The Yankee advantage comes from the world-wide Yankee market and the revenue that supplies. If there was such a thing for the Angels, you would have seen Moreno in the mix as well. This guy is every bit the business man that George was. His sons are buffoons . . . trust fund boys. Next year the Evil Empire will "blow," and I will enjoy watching it. CC will have arm issues, while Burnett will just have issues. Tex will smoke, but to no avail because that Yankee pitching will be in worse shape than last year. Can't wait for Steinbrenner boys to start crying all over again - it was soooo enjoyable last year, will be better this year.

Merry Christmas

montanabowers

Dec 24, 2008 22:28 PM
rating: -1
 
bflaff

"The Yankee advantage comes from the world-wide Yankee market and the revenue that supplies."

That's the point. The Yankees aggressively build markets and chase revenue, and created a cash cow franchise. They're not passively sitting back, counting the money that volunteers itself to them. They're constantly looking for ways to bring in more money and give themselves more finances to play with. The rest of the league doesn't have the same natural advantages that the Yankees do, but they also don't try as hard as the Yankees to expand revenues.

Point being that if the Steinbrenners owned the Angels for the last 35 years, and someone without the same drive owned the Yankees, the odds are we'd be talking about the Angels being bad for baseball instead of the Yankees. The Steinbrenners probably couldn't have pulled it off in a small market like Kansas City, but with the Yankees they got a franchise with huge earning potential and they figured out what to do with it.

Boston's ownership, for one, is creatively chasing revenue as well, fwiw. Other teams should imitate these practices instead of trying to shut them down.

Dec 25, 2008 14:22 PM
rating: 0
 
Dougie4512

Other teams are building markets and chasing revenue--or trying to. The Indians created STO (Sportstime Ohio) to broadcast their games and now they have become an unofficial hub for high school state championship events and other professional sports, small college, and regional programming. They keep revenue produced by STO...but it's a drop in the bucket compared to what the YES network brings in; market size does affect that. That said, if you listened to the average Indians fan here (including my dad who is a long-time "baseball guy" who knows the game inside and out and has coached for many years--so it's not just know-nothings saying this), you'd find out owner Larry Dolan is cheap, a bad businessman, won't spend money on free agents, and likes to snack on little children's oreos and milk that were left out for Santa. All he has done is keep the Indians competitive and given Mark Shapiro the tools to be effective...

...but when the bet on David Dellucci doesn't work after year 1 of a 3 year deal, where can he turn? More hurtful, what if Travis Hafner really is a pumpkin? What can he do? When Carl Pavano doesn't work, the Yanks can turn to the next investment on the market the next year. Why? Because they're making $2500 a seat each night for the best seats in the house at the new Yankee Stadium and the money brought in from the YES network, etc. Other cities don't have those revenue streams and they're not all created from a wise owner. Steinbrenner has grown the Yankees exponentially, is overall good for the game, and a great owner...but he's not the only one and the fact he's in New York is an incredibly immense advantage.

Dec 25, 2008 21:36 PM
rating: 1
 
DaveKavanagh
(776)

Why is it that, when it comes to sport, the usual split of USA=capitalism & Europe=socialism goes out the window? I've never seen so many Americans whine about the advantages enjoyed by successful entities as when they're talking about the Yankees and free agents. Sport in Europe works just fine without the successful & rich clubs' subsidizing the poor or poorly run clubs---why are subsidies considered sacrosanct in US sport?

Dec 25, 2008 10:38 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Hunter

Because people don't think about it that way unfortunately. They think the league works for them, to make every single team the same and "have a chance." Because fans of teams who didnt win the world series want to see their team compete and they don't think about unintended consequences.

Dec 25, 2008 11:35 AM
rating: 0
 
Justice

Because MLB is not a free market now. If it were, there would be four or five teams in the New York area and the Yankees would not have this ridiculous advantage due to the accident of their geography.

The New York Steinbrenners are raging socialists when it suits their purpose (i.e., no team can move into New York and they want more public financing for their stadium) and are raging capitalists when that suits their purpose.

The people running the Yankees are really raging hypocrites.

Dec 26, 2008 08:20 AM
rating: 1
 
eighteen

If you gave every owner the Yankee revenue stream, you could count on one hand the number who would spend money like the Steinbrenners. The rest would just put a nominally competitive team on the field and pocket the $100 million left over. I'm from Chicago, and I can guarantee you if George Steinbrenner owned the Cubs, there'd be shrines to him all over the North Side.

How is it unfair for the Yankees to spend their money on their product (something their couterparts would never do), but it's fair for Pohlad and his ilk to pocket millions of Yankee dollars just because they're not in New York?

People forget the Yankees are a business first, and a ball team second. Their primary competitors aren't other baseball teams; but the entertainment industry in New York - and if you want to thrive in that environment you need to do more than just win ball games. You need to be seen and talked about all the time. The Steinbrenners NEED to spend money if (unlike their counterparts) they want their team to do more than just get by every year - even if it means taking a chance on (ugh) Carl Pavano. If that's bad for baseball, if "parity" is so desirable, then relocate franchises so none has any revenue advantage over Kansas City. Then we'll see how good for the game plummeting ratings and attendance are.

I'm no Yankees fan; and I don't buy the argument that small market teams can compete year-in and year-out with the New Yorks and Bostons and Chicagos just through the draft. It's not possible. But the real problem with most teams ("small-market" or otherwise) is that they're owned and managed by small-minded men who have no clue what they're doing. The Yankees didn't tell the Mariners to hire Bavasi, or Pittsburgh to hire Littlefield. The Yankees didn't tell the Rockies to give Todd Helton and Mike Hampton huge long-term contracts; or the Giants to give Barry Zito the same. Arguing it's unfair that the Yankees can afford those kinds of mistakes begs the question. For most teams, the source of their "non-competitiveness" is in the nearest mirror.

Dec 25, 2008 14:33 PM
rating: 4
 
Dougie4512

I have nothing to add here, but that might be the best post of the entire thread.

Dec 25, 2008 21:38 PM
rating: 0
 
jayman4

This issue is not about the Yankees particular management or spending: it is small market vs. big market.

Small market teams are at a material disadvantage to major market teams. Looking at win percentage and playoff participation bear that out. If salary was not a major factor, how come no major market team economizes on salary? There is always a marginal, expected impact. Or they would not spend it.

It has been awhile since reading Woolner, but it does seem like a cap is required that is linked to a fixed % of baseball revenues. Each team is required to spend that amount in salaries. If salaries are under the cap, they remainder has to be put in trust for future salaries, not to the team coffers. The teams have to share revenue to make the system work. You would have to leave some profit incentive for effective marketing and team management, but it could not have a material impact on salary bases across teams.

I doubt any defender of the current system is a fan of a small market team. To argue that the current system is fair is denial of the obvious.

With balanced payroll, some teams will succeed and others flail but that will be much more a product of the team management rather than underlying economics. Teams that flail under the new system should replace their management; they have no one else to complain. Actually, salary discrepancy insulates management. Top market teams can stay reasonably competitive even with making bad baseball decisions. Bad decisions by small market teams can be blamed on the inherent unfairness of the system.

Look at the NFL. There are successful franchises and unsuccessful, but that success can be easily attributed to the player drafting skill and coaching quality. Salary is just not a factor. Spending salary poorly is, but there is no inherent factor inhibiting one franchise from emulating another.

People who argue about the free-market system miss the point. The franchises are awarded markets and they are protected. They did not compete to gain access to those markets nor do they compete to maintain access to those markets. So, this is like a lottery not a free-market. Major market teams may vary in how they manage the windfall of their market's economic power, but that windfall was bestowed, not earned.

The Yankees may have made more of their position relative to other major market teams, say the Dodgers, but that does not change the inherent disadvantage of small vs. large. Does someone honestly believe if Steinbrenner owned the Kansas City Royals he would have the same impact on the industry and same spending capacity than if he happened to own a team in the most valuable market in the country? The Royals might be better, but is laughable to envision them as the "global brand" that people cite as evidence of Steinbrenner's acumen.

The payroll system is completely broken and it will rot out the core of baseball, slowly creating apathy at the extremities (small market teams) until it enters the major market teams as well. Fantasy sports and better analysis have improved engagement, but that cannot overcome over half the teams don't have a chance in a given year.

It is disappointing that the BP staff likes to ignore this fact, and, in the case of this article, trumpet an artifact of the imbalances. This seems to be because the BP staff intensely dislikes baseball owners, strongly favors the players' rights, bristle at anything that might undermine player salaries. It is unfortunate that the owners are led by the ineffective and lethally unimaginative Selig. But, at the end of the day, this is not about labor vs. owners. This is about fairness to fans. Given that the MLB anti-trust exemption is bestowed by the government, I would argue there is a case for governmental intervention to enforce a system that creates salary balance.

This sport cannot thrive as it is. Even if you are lucky enough to have been born into a major market area, the vibrancy of competitiveness suffers and that pulls down the sport. With increasing outlets for entertainment, baseball cannot continue down this path.

Dec 26, 2008 01:43 AM
rating: 5
 
amazin_mess

Sadly, it already thrives as is. That's why nothing will be done.

Dec 26, 2008 04:55 AM
rating: -1
 
Matt Hunter

Salary caps do not work, purely and simply. It has been proven before and will probably be proven again. All they do is shift consumer surplus dollars from the players and let the billionare owners pocket it. You are wrong in saying no "small market fan" will defend the current system. I am a Marlins enthusiast. The sport can thrive as it is, because that is already happening, and I see no reason why it will not continue to do so.

I honestly do not understand how fans feel entitled that their favorite team spend the same as every other team. It is not about "fairness" it is about business. The government has way more important things to do.

Dec 26, 2008 09:18 AM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

"Top market teams can stay reasonably competitive even with making bad baseball decisions. Bad decisions by small market teams can be blamed on the inherent unfairness of the system."

The corrolary to this is that small market teams can't stay reasonably competitive if they make bad baseball decisions; so you're saying the system's "inherent unfairness" is that it forces small market teams to actually know what the hell they're doing.

Only 7 teams out of 31 haven't made the playoffs at least once in the last 10 years. Is that because they suffer from small market disadvantages that somehow don't apply to the Twins, A's, Rays, Padres, Rockies, Marlins, or Mariners - or because their ownership and management stink?

Dec 26, 2008 10:27 AM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

Oops, 7 out of 30.

Dec 26, 2008 10:32 AM
rating: 0
 
ZeusIsLoose

The problem isn't really big market v. small market, it's the fact that the yankees are to big-market teams what big-market teams are to small-market teams. They are an outlier. And you can't set your business plan up according to one outlier.

Just think if there were no yankees, sabathia might have signed with the brewers, burnett with the braves, teixeira with the nationals. Would baseball really be dying then?

the problem isn't that small market teams don't have the money, it's that there aren't any players left now that are worth that money. Because the yankees took them all.

This yankee problem doesn't have a good solution.

The other owners should ratchet up the luxury tax penalties for the only team that doesn't mind breaking through that barrier.There are 29 of them, they can do it.

But honestly, the only teams that have their playoff path blocked by the Gotham Gluttons are the other AL East teams. Maybe give them a larger chunk(all?) of the luxury tax revenues, so that the yankee excesses actually fund their main competitors with cash to compete.

As an NL fan, I can watch the spending with detached bemusement. It has no effect on my hope and faith.

Dec 26, 2008 09:47 AM
rating: 1
 
Drew Miller

I'm not all doom and gloom when it comes to all these signings. I'm more inclined to bemoan what the Yankee brand has become. It used to mean something similar to excellence, hard work, and heart. Now it stands for avarice.

Dec 26, 2008 13:44 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

Exactly. Every year, the Steinbrenner's flop it out for the world to see and spend what they need to to get their chips. Sometimes it's huge money like this year, other times it's not.

The do excel at getting mercenaries though.

Dec 27, 2008 21:28 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

Interesting how half the people think that the Yankees signing Tex is an unfair advantage while the other half think the signing was plain stupid and the Yankees overpaid.

Seems if the true Yankee haters thought the signing was a stupid one, they'd be glad the Yankees did the signing.

Instead the Yankees haters are left to argue from both sides of the fence, which just makes their arguments all that more inconsistent.

Dec 28, 2008 07:55 AM
rating: -2
 
Justice

It's not about hating the Yankees. It's about hating what the Yankees are doing. Trust me, if the Red Sox or Dodgers started spending local media revenue like maniacs, no one would like that, either.

Frankly, the Yankees did overpay for Mark Teixeira. He's not Albert Pujols and does not deserve to be the highest paid first baseman in the game. Teixeira is, however, an excellent player offensively and defensively and would help any team. In terms of position players, the Yanks have essentially swapped Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi for Nick Swisher and Teixeira. For 2009, that's probably a net minus. Nonetheless, by 2011 and 2012, Teixeira will liklely contribute more than anyone else in this "swap."

Having said all that, many of those you call "Yankee haters" actually hate to see competitive balance endangered and also hate the concept of the Yankees driving the industry toward a strike in 2011. Based on the recent comments of Brewer owner Mark Attanasio and Red Sox owner John Henry, a strike looms as a very real possibility.

Dec 28, 2008 10:01 AM
rating: 1
 
jefferickson

Seems to me that would more likely be a lockout, not a strike.

Dec 30, 2008 12:44 PM
rating: 0
 
fishtaco

I know he's a Yankee fan, but having to read Sheehan's glee at the team being able to throw another $180 million around is nauseating. Didn't they just ask the city for $360 million in bonds a few weeks ago?

Dec 28, 2008 13:58 PM
rating: 3
 
JayhawkBill

Given the repeated suggestion in this discussion thread that management, not payroll, determines success, I decided to check that. For each of the 330 team-seasons in the 11-year history of the 30-team MLB, I calculated every team's payroll as a percentage of the MLB total each year using the USA Today salary database, and then I checked whether or not each team had made the ALDS or the NLDS. Breaking it down by percentage of MLB payroll, here's what I got:

Percentage: Chance of reaching playoffs

7%+: 83%
6%: 67%
5%: 48%
4%: 38%
3%: 14%
2%: 14%
1%: 0%

It seems to me that payroll does matter, especially as one approaches the level where team payroll is double the MLB average of 3.33%. Nothing is guaranteed, as the 2008 Yankees proved, but money seems to make success more probable.

Conversely, for smaller-market teams, lack of money seems to make success roughly a one-in-seven chance. A team such as the Twins, with good management and luck, might do better, and a team such as the Pirates might do worse, but the group of teams with below-average payrolls--and that's a majority of MLB teams because the payrolls aren't distributed normally--can expect to see postseason baseball only once every seven years or so.

Dec 29, 2008 08:35 AM
rating: 3
 
Justice

This is an excellent, well-researched post. This data shows that small market teams who beat the odds and manage to assemble a good squad on a shoe-string budget will still go backward eventually unless they can somehow find more revenue. Baseball's current revenue system is the beast that won't go away and remains the primary obtacle to competitive balance.

This whole discussion raises another question to me -- what percentage of each team's available revenue is spent on players? I believe Forbes did a study a couple of years ago and, if I recall correctly, the two teams that spent the largest percentage of available revenue on players were the Chicago White Sox and the Washington Nationals.

Dec 29, 2008 15:15 PM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

Drawing valid conclusions from this methodology requires knowing which teams comprise each of those %age groups, as well as the payroll amounts in $.

Claiming payroll alone, in a vacuum without any team context, determines playoff success is silly. Maybe ownership doesn't CARE if its team is competitive, in which case payroll isn't a reflection of disadvantage, but an owner's conscious business decision. We can't know that based on the data provided here.

Dec 31, 2008 09:52 AM
rating: 0
 
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