Cashman levels charges of fiscal insanity

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When the Yanks on the World Series in 1998, they did so with a $73-million payroll. Despite the then-lofty price tag, the Yanks finished behind the $74-million, fourth-place Orioles in the payroll wars. That historic season would be the last time the Yanks lost that battle.

Ten years later, the Yanks are coming off a season that saw their payroll balloon to $218.3 million, nearly $70 million higher than the most expensive team to ever win a World Series. Brian Cashman, who is part of a Front Office that just doled out the most expensive contract in history and high-ticket deals to two other star players, now says that the bloat has to stop:

“We are high,” Yankees GM Brain Cashman said in an interview with ESPN 1050 New York’s Andrew Marchand. “If I could get our payroll lower [I would]. It is not going to happen — not this year. But we have, at the end of the year, a lot of numbers coming off. The combination of building our farm system and getting our salary lines back to where they probably need to be. That’s a process, too, and that takes some time. I’m not particularly proud that we have the highest payroll in the game.

“I just don’t think you are going to get the type of bang for your buck at the type of dollars that you are paying.”

For some Yankee fans, their instant reaction to this quote will be one of concern. The vaunted Yankees are going to enter a rebuilding period? No way, how how.

But what Cashman is saying actually makes perfect sense. With the farm system coming due at the same time a lot of contracts are coming off the books, the Yanks have the cheap, good pieces to plug in to the right holes. At the same time, with a lot of albatross-like contracts — Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth — coming due, the Yanks can use that money to snatch up the right pieces.

NoMaas likes to say that if they had $200 million to spend, the Yanks would never lose. If Brian Cashman is true to his word and the Yanks’ brass don’t overreact this season, we may finally get to see what happens when the Yanks put together a well-constructed $180-million machine instead of a $200-million bloated roster.

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  • Rich

    Of course, that goal is contingent on Cash receiving a contract extension, as I believe he should (he said in that interview that there have been no discussions to this point), and he and Hal prevailing over (or convincing) Hank that profligate spending can often lead to the kind inefficient decision making process and roster inflexibility that has constrained the Yankees over the last several years.

  • http://jeteupthemiddle.blogspot.com Jeteupthemiddle

    I put together a spread sheet on my own blog showing to which players the money is going for the 25 man roster (though, I have 25 including Pavano so there will need to be a change there), with some guesses on the pre-arbitration players (It’ll be updated as the new numbers are released).

    Obviously the entire 40 man roster is used for luxury tax purposes, but I don’t know the minor league numbers, but on a sheer 25 man level, the Yankees current payroll is roughly $200.665M (AAV is $196.2595M).

    You have to remember, however, that even though $74.05M ($66.1445M AAV) is coming off the books after 2008 and another $26M is coming off after 2009, those players will need to be replaced by someone. Yeah, Pavano doesn’t have to be replaced, and yes, Giambi sort of won’t have to be replaced, but all of the other players are counted on for innings or at bats throughout the season.

    The test will be next off season when we see what contracts are handed out to replace these missing players.

  • steve (different one)

    Cash is right. 2009 is the magic year for the payroll.

    in 2010, the lose Damon and Matsui as well.

    they will have to sign an OFer or 2 somewhere, but if they can get just one OFer from their system to be a regular, they will be in very good shape.

  • http://yankeesfuture.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

    Well, they’ve got $85 million coming off after 2008, and, conceivably they’ll sign Mark Texeira, so that’ll be maybe $66-$67 million after 2008, not including Roger Clemens’ $18 million after 2007. So the payroll should be, if this happens, a whopping $133.3 million!

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      What about skipping out on the 7 yrs/$100M Teixeira will demand, and instead fork over, say 4 yrs/$60M to Adam Dunn to play first?

      • NYFan50

        I am all for this, Mike. I’d rather have a shorter contract with OBP machine Dunn than a bloated contract for Tex.

  • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

    That Texiera scenario is going to be very interesting. I’m assuming that Jesus Montero should be due for a mid-season call-up in the 2011 season or even a September call-up in 2010 so should we really be looking for a mainstay at 1B after this season? Of course this is banking on the fact that Montero develops how we all expect and hope him to and also that Austin Romine develops like we all expect and hopes he does to take over the C spot vacated by JO-PO.

    Im sure that Tex won’t be too interested in anything short of a 5 year pact so will Cash go after that knowing full well what he potentially has in Jesus Montero?

    • rbizzler

      Jesus can always DH, if he continues to progress that is. The thing about Tex is that even though 1b might be overrated defensively, he is definitely a plus defender there.

    • Rob

      Actually, he’s not a plus defender. Last year he had a below average RATE, RZR, OOZ, and PMR.

      I agree that Teixeira would seem to be the next test of the new philosophy. If he has a big season while the Yankee 1B Hydra is only average, then there will be alot of pressure to sign that available money. And if the Yanks don’t make the playoffs, it may not be Cashman’s decision nor even if they do but fall short.

      Joe Nathan would seem to be another test, especially if the bullpen struggles.

  • dan

    As long as Cashman gets an extension, there will be bright days ahead of us.

    If anyone wants to hear me babble about fantasy baseball tonight, click below and listen at 8 oclock

    http://www.freewebs.com/sports.....rkandevan/

    I need something to talk about for my closing statement (can be anything sports related). I was thinking about talking about the yankees farm system transition, but if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know.

  • http://riveraveblues.com JimT

    Listening to Brian Cashman lament about high payrolls is rather funny. The Yankees have been without question the greatest contributors to escalating salaries since the advent of free agency. What is worse still, they are now beginnig to screw up the amateur free agent draft by overpaying for thier slots, encouraging agents to over demand with the hopes that players fall out to thier draft positions and way over paying latino underaged free agents. But its all OK, because they are the Yankees. The Yankees have a long history of being self serving bullies so to now hear Cashman whine about contracts and a blotted payroll is just too much.

    Rich touched on the real issue. Will the Yankees be disiplined enough to wait for thier younger players even if it means missing the playoffs for a year or two. I think not, once the fan base starts to howl its discontent Hank will have his check book ready to sign the next Johnny Damon, Kei Igawa or Octavio Dotel. They just can’t help themselves.

    • dan

      What you’re talking about is exactly what Cashman is trying to change. I think you missed the point.

  • Rob

    How exactly will the fanbase “howl its discontent”? Stay home?

    Except the Yanks will sell out almost every game this year and certainly every game next year. Of all time for them to wait one or two years, this is exactly it. Even then, I’m not sure they’ll have to.

  • mustang

    I don’t agree with much of Jim T, but I do think it’s funny what Cash is spinning. Since he put Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth,Igawa and Wright on our payroll.
    However, to all those who cry foul over the Yanks payroll, too bad. The system is unfair and needs to change, but i don’t see MLB running to change it so why shouldnt the Yanks take advantage. I just hope this Santana situation is not the new Yankee way because the Yanks should be the last team on earth watching pennies.

  • inman

    a great positive in all this is maybe we can sign giambi next year for only 15 mil/yr for the next 2 yrs and save 5 a yr. he’s a great .230 hitter and plays some great little league defense. otherwise they’re stuck with that mark guy from atlanta

  • tallicafan87

    Personally I would probably pass on Teixera. Hope that Sabathia does indeed hit free agency and give him that money.

    A lot of the money coming off is kind of dead weight, Pavano, Giambi, Farnsworth, etc…but two that are coming off are pretty big pieces of our team in Pettitte and Abreu.

  • sn0b0ard3r

    we should definitely see how texiera and sabathia’s seasons go. texiera is probably gonna want 5 years minimum at $100 million, remember hes a boras guy and i don’t know how the a-rod opt out with affect his other clients and the yankees. c.c. sabathia may not be a smart hire if he doesn’t do well this year, his post-season scared me and he just may be worthless to the yankees. adam dunn is of course a great b plan, maybe he would take a 2-3 year for decent money. as for relievers being available aren’t nathan and k-rod both likely to be on the market? k-rod is going to want record breaking money, and i don’t think he will take a setup role, nathan neither. i would even consider bringing abreu back on a 2-3 year deal if he agrees to make a push for a ring. and don’t forget about andy pettitte wanting to pitch in the new yankee stadium come 2009. damon and matsui would be off the books the following year, and you have to think that at least one of jose tabata and austin jackson pan out. overall, the best option might be to see how the big three, horne and marquez pan out this season and only sign sabathia if we are desperate. texiera would be a great pickup, but dunn suffices. everything else can basically be filled internally. thats what she said.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      A-Rod’s opt-out debacle won’t effect Boras’ relationship with regards to his clients and the Yankees for one simple reason: money. If Boras is to get top dollar for his clients, he needs the Yanks and the team’s deep pockets involved, plain and simple.

  • r.w.g.

    Signing CC Sabathia or Mark Texiera may be a matter of keeping them away from the Red Sox. I’m not really a huge fan of the cock block strategy that occurs in this rivalry (except when it is to direct albatross contracts cross town) but I don’t think either of them would be bad moves.

    Tex is probably one of the top 10 hitters in the game, definitely in the top 15, with the potential to be the best for a season or two — and a switch hitter with very good and consistent splits.

    CC is the best pitcher in baseball. His weight could be an issue (remember the way people used to say that Bartolo Colon was a “horse”, too?) over a big contract. He makes the most sense if they are just going after one of them.

    Contracts would have to be huge, though. Maybe Chipper Jones as a stop gap to Montero? He’s on the wrong side of 35, but he seems determined to end this talk of “borderline Hall of Famer”.