Dec
25

Levine defends Yankee spendings

By

It’s almost unnecessary to defend the Yanks’ recent spending spree. Yankee fans love it, and Yankee haters won’t like no matter how much logic you throw their way. But for some reason, that fact of life hasn’t prevented Randy Levine from excusing the Yanks’ spending spree.

In a Michael Schmidt piece in The Times today, Levine defends the Yankees’ big contracts. “The philosophy of George Steinbrenner, which has been continued by Hal and Hank, is that the Yankees are a sacred trust to their fans and they believe in continually reinvesting in the team rather than reinvesting in themselves,” Levine said to Schmidt. “We follow all the rules of baseball, we pay millions of dollars to other teams and we are essential to the revenues generated by Major League Baseball and its networks and other entities.”

Writes Schmidt:

In signing C. C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett to big free-agent contracts and reaching agreement with Mark Teixeira on an eight-year, $180 million deal, the Yankees have now spent far more money this off-season than the other 29 major league teams combined. For those keeping score, it is $423.5 million to $296.6 million. That kind of discrepancy is too much for some commentators and for the Milwaukee Brewers’ owner, Mark Attanasio, who on Tuesday resurrected the idea of a salary cap as a way of reining in the Yankees.

Levine will have none of it. He said that the Yankees, by spending substantially on players, were making sure they remained a top asset in the sport. “We are usually in the top of road attendance and we get some of the highest television ratings, both when we play national games and when we visit other teams,” he said. He said if the Yankees’ new stadium, which will be ready for the 2009 season, allows the team’s revenue to increase, then “so will the revenues of the rest of the game.”

Levine added: “We are sensitive to the economic times and our fans. We believe it is good for the franchise and good for the fans to put the best product possible on the field, and that is what we strive to do.”

As Mike noted yesterday, baseball doesn’t need a salary cap, and anyone who says so right now is just envious of the Yankees’ situation. They’re doling out less money so far in 2009 than they did in 2008, and the reason they spent so much this year was because they could. The Yanks knew the 2008 free agent class was ripe for the picking, and they knew they had the money. It would have been far, far worse had they not spent.

Of course, ESPN will complain. Other owners will complain. But when it the time comes for the Yanks to visit, 29 other teams will look forward to the sell outs and capacity crowds that follow the Bombers on the road. It’s just a fact of baseball life, and no one should criticize or excuse a team that has money and knows how to spend it.

Categories : Rants
  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    Of course, ESPN will complain.

    Yeah, and Mr. Levine took the turning-a-blind-eye analysts of the Worldwide Leader to task in the final paragraph of this article:

    Levine singled out the criticism that he said some ESPN’s commentators had directed at Yankee spending and said he wondered why they were not criticizing their own network for reinvesting in its product by outbidding Fox by millions of dollars to acquire the rights to the Bowl Championship Series.

    • ‘The’ Steve

      They will say “ESPN isn’t a league, we don’t need FOX to exist”.

      But the rest of Baseball benefits from the Yanks being the “Big bad Yanks” in road attendance, TV ratings and luxury taxes. All of the debate going on right now is good for the sport as well.

      Its also good marketing for a sport. Toyota has Lexus, GM has Cadillac, and Baseball has the Yankees. You don’t like them, choose another brand.

      • Tom Zig

        Its also good marketing for a sport. Toyota has Lexus, GM has Cadillac, and Baseball has the Yankees. You don’t like them, choose another brand.

        I never thought about it like that, but now that you mention it….

        Good analogy.

  • Ryan S.

    The only reason people are bitching this year is because we’re actually spending our money wisely . Who gives a shit if Giambi, who didn’t even qualify as being a Type A free agent, was getting paid $23M or if A-Rod was getting paid $28M to go 0 for October.

    This year we signed the best pitcher, the best hitter, and the biggest risk/reward player on the market all at the peak and everybody went “Oh shit…they’re actually being smart with their money … uh oh”.

    Its not like we haven’t been at this salary level for the past few years, its just that now we have a team that’s actually worth the price tag.

    What’s going to be funny is how we’re going to be trending toward a lower payroll in the upcoming years with even more young talent entering the fold. What’s everyone’s excuse going to be then?

    • ‘The’ Steve

      If the Yankees spend 300 million and wind up in 3rd place again, nobody would care. If anything, they would have a good laugh at our expense. The problem they have is when the Yanks spend and win, that’s what drives them nuts.

      Also, nobody would have said a word if ‘the Little Train that Could’ BoSox spent 170 mil to take Tex away from the Angels (another big spending team) or the lowly Nats, who could use Tex the most. This isn’t exactly WalMart vs the Mom and Pop shop, these are all the biggest players in the sport.

      So at the end of the day, the problem really isn’t with the Yankees spending, its with the Yankees winning. Winning a bidding war and the prospects of them winning a WS. Which tells you this is just garden variety Yankee hating, which is almost as old as the sport itself.

      • Ryan S.

        To add to your point about Boston, they could’ve outbid us! We weren’t going to get into a bidding war for an infinite amount of money. 8/180 w/ a NTC was our first and last hard offer. You better believe Boras shopped that to Boston on Tuesday and they didn’t bite. Its not our fault that Boston arbitrarily sticks to their philosophy on free agents – Tex is the kind of guy you make an exception for.

        • ‘The’ Steve

          MLBTR has a report today that the Yanks were outbid, by about 5 mil by the Nats. Also Tony Reagins was quoted as saying something like “I think Tex ended up where he wanted to go all along”. So its not all about money, players get to go where they want to play.

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

            If I were in Teixeira’s shoes, I’d need a lot more than last-place team with a sketchy long-term plan than $5 million if the choice were Nationals vs. Yankees.

            • Ryan S.

              Not to mention the Mattingly factor.

  • Marcus

    Nothing like a Christmas full of family bashing the Yankees. Gets so annoying at some points that I just walk away. No one understands they are spending less and are still concentrated on their youth movement. No one wants to listen. They just want to blurt out 450+ million in spending.

    Sure it sounds like a lot when you accumulate it. But, it’s all spread out over 5+ years.

    All anyone would have been saying (ESPN, fans, and other journalists) is how Boston made the smarter investment and is still the favorite to win the division if they would have scooped up Teix.

    But, then again….your not a Yankee fan, unless you love the love-hate relationship between baseball and the Yankees.

    • ‘The’ Steve

      Tell them the payroll is 13% lower right now than it was last year.

      And that they’re cutting payroll despite the estimates that their revenues will almost DOUBLE in the new ballpark.

      Won’t work, but the facts never penetrate those who are blinded by hate.

  • Januz

    Here is another way of looking at the Yankees spending, and the power of their brand, which is to compare them to another franchise…….. The Pittsburgh Pirates.
    First off, I wonder why ESPN, elects to put Yankees/Red Sox on so often. It could not have anything to do with ratings/advertising dollars could it? Why not put on Nationals/Pirates from SNC Bank Park in Pittsburgh if you want to help the downtrodden get on the same level as the Yankees?
    Next, again using Pittsburgh as an example: Why is it that the only four games, that the Pirates sold out were opening day, and the Yankee series? PNC Bank Park is considered the BEST of the new stadiums. But very few people choose to attend Pirate games (It is because the Pirates are essentially filler programming in between the end of the Penguin season and Steeler training camp). PS: This is why Alex Rodriguez was so desperate to get out of Texas that he would switch positions to leave. It is Cowboys, University of Texas, then everyone else.
    Finally, keep in mind, baseball has had a love/hate relationship with the Yankees since John McGraw kicked them out of the Polo Grounds, because of the popularity of Babe Ruth. The creation of the draft, luxury tax, you name it, all designed to control the Yankees. It is nothing new, and will be going on as long as the Yankees are in business.

  • ‘The’ Steve

    Now ESPN will reply that the sports journalism isn’t a league, they don’t need FOX Sports to exist, wheras the Yanks need the rest of Baseball. True, but the rest of Baseball needs the Yankees to be the ‘big, bad Yankees’ as well.

    As Levine stated, the Yanks lead all of Baseball in road attendance. Some owners see their only sellouts of the year when the Yanks (or the other big spenders, the Red Sox) come to town. That wasn’t the case when the Yanks were bad in the early 90’s. The spending spree they went on has also generated interest in the sport, which is good for Baseball. If the Yanks fall back to the pack, or are a bad team like they were in the early 90s, then nobody cares about slaying David slaying Goliath, since Goliath doesn’t exist.

    People either love or hate the Yankees, but that’s part of the fabric of Baseball, going all the way back to Ruth. But everyone has an opinion on them one way or the other. It could be worse, they could not care about Baseball one way or the other. Then you have a dying sport.

  • ‘The’ Steve

    “The Yanks knew the 2008 free agent class was ripe for the picking, and they knew they had the money. It would have been far, far worse had they not spent.”

    The Yanks will be criticized if they spend money and criticized if they don’t. You can’t win with the media, its a fool’s errand. Just win on the field and legions of fans and their dollars will follow you. The reality is only a sliver of the population will read anything that Gammons or some local sportswriter types. Win on the field, and they become voices in the wind.

  • ryan

    I could see people complaining if the yanks had won 2 out of the last 5 world series like boston did. These signings are massive and it’s clear that not many teams can compete with the yanks…but Boston was only outbid by 10-12 million overall for tex and the nationals had the highest offer on the table apparently.

    The yanks lost a 20 game winner (moose) to retirement, a number 3 hitter who drives in 100 RBI’s every year while hitting 300, a costly often injured pitcher who barely played and replaced them with nearly the same (hopefully not in AJ’s case). The yanks still may shed a veteran mid rotation guy for the likes of a rookie from the farm system. They also signed Marte for 2 mill less a yr and sold rasner for a mill on the side. They may still trade and dump salary from one of the many outfielders. In the end The Yanks, like most are saying, may have a lower salary than last yr. This leads me to believe they were wiser in how money was spent, as proof by not offering arb to any FA and forgoing draft picks .

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

      I have one tiny bone to pick here. A.J. Burnett is not Carl Pavano. Over the last four years, Pavano made 26 starts. Over the last four years, Burnett made 112. He also has far better stuff and a better track record of success. To compare one to the other is a disservice to Burnett.

      Otherwise, yeah, you’re right.

      • ryan

        I certainly wouldn’t compare their stuff.

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

          But even comparing their health isn’t really fair to Burnett.

          • ryan

            I only said they were often injured pitchers, I grouped them, I agree pavano has a far worse health record. AJ is an often injured pitcher wouldn’t you say? I wouldn’t presume to think AJ is on this whole other class of health. Burnette has made more than 30 starts twice in his career due to injuries.

            • ryan

              this being said I expect Burnette to be healthy and pitch well in 09 but he is what he is, until he has a consecutive healthy yr how can he be considerd otherwise.

            • ‘The’ Steve

              But he has made 25 starts or more 5 times and made 20 or more starts 6 times in his career, and has made at least 20 each year for the past 4 years since having TJ surgery.

              So in Pavano’s case you have a guy who’s barely pitched in the last 4 years, and Burnett has tended to miss about a month each year in the same time frame.

              Comparing the two is most often just wishful thinking by the haters.

              • Ryan S.

                And just add to that, Burnett is in a totally different tier of pitcher when both are healthy. That really needs to be stressed – Burnett has shut down stuff when he is locked in.

              • ryan

                I agree I didn’t say they had the same track record but fact remains of burnette 10 yr career he’s been injury free how many yrs?3?
                I never said pavano made more starts or logged more innings. I said we were sheding an often injured pitcher who barely played and recieving another often injured pitcher, just to show we were kind of making an exchange of what we had through the free agent market. 100% burnette has better stuff and health but was never the point was it. I even said I hoped what happend with pavano would not be the case with burnette.

                • ryan

                  funny how no one commented on my comparing Tex with abreu considering this nitpicking goin on.

                • Jay CT

                  Seriously, the dude was just saying they were both injury prone. Although people dont realize how much AJ has pitched, this is not a new complaint.

                  My philosophy is this. Those who think he is so injury prone… there is a reason Toronto wanted him back badly.

  • Frank B.

    If the Yanks traded for Santana last year, they would not have signed CC, therefore shaving off 161 million off this so-called spending spree. But ostensibly they would have been spending nearly the same $$$. But there would have been less bitching from the league, 423 mil minus 161 mil means they only spent 262 mil. That it came in one off-season is causing this furor.

    • Ryan S.

      In reality, The Yankees saved a lot of resources by getting Santana instead of Sabathia (assuming it was going to be one or the other). We saved a ton of valuable prospects, including Phil Hughes. Top tier prospects are a huge commodity it this day and age.

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

        Other way around. They saved a lot by getting Sabathia instead of Santana.

        • Ryan S.

          lol yeah, dumb typo obviously, thanks for the correction.

      • ‘The’ Steve

        That’s true, but chances are the Yanks make the playoffs last year if they have Santana.

        I was all for keeping Hughes, but we paid a price for doing so. Hopefully, he will repay the Yanks for their patience.

        • Mike Pop

          Doubt it. Too many things went wrong last year to say we would of made the playoffs. Im still glad we didnt make that deal.

        • Ryan S.

          Agreed, Santana would’ve probably kept the playoff streak alive. But last year many things went wrong. Even while suffering through Hughes/IPK/Rasner/Ponson for a large chunck of the year, we still were able to keep fighting for survival. If some of the other unlucky breaks we had weren’t a factor, we could’ve still gotten into October despite the open wound that was the back-end of the rotation.

          My point is that I think it was a worthy gamble that could’ve worked out last year and even though we did end up losing in the short term, our long term future now seems to have more success for potential that what it would have been otherwise. We won’t know for a few years still if it was the right decision or not, but as it stands right now, I like how we’re shaping up.

          • Frank B.

            Hughes/IPK/Rasner/Ponson for a large chunck of the year, we still were able to keep fighting for survival. If some of the other unlucky breaks we had weren’t a factor, we could’ve still gotten into October despite the open wound that was the back-end of the rotation.

            This is why Girardi should get a lot more praise for a 89 win season… Can’t understand the lack of love for him.

  • Moshe Mandel

    If MLB had the salary cap structure of the NFL, the salary FLOOR last season would have been 100 million. The gap in spending in MLB is just as much the fault of the Marlins and Rays as it is the Yankees. The Marlins spent about 14% of revenues on salaries last season, the Yankees 50%.

    • Frank B.

      absolutely, thats why the players AND the owners won’t adopt a salary cap… they don’t want the salary floor… good point.

    • ryan

      interesting … maybe those teams pocketing the money from their revenues should either put up or shut up.

  • Old Ranger

    To continue with the youth movement; one needs the youth to step up, I think we have about 4 or 5 that are ready for the next step…be that it is a very big step from AAA to the show. IPK and Phil found out last year the difference between being a Sept. (2007) call-up and being dumped into the grinder of the big boys of the East.
    Lesson well learned, should have a big impact on them for this coming year. We have Phil, IPK, Aceves, Giese and maybe even Coke and McCutchen as our new young guns. That list is very impressive to me, would any team not want to have that problem? 27/09.

    • Mike Pop

      McCutchen ? Come on Ranger he got dealt. ;)

      • Old Ranger

        Give me a brake will ya…i’m old and slow. Thanks, I forgot.
        Buy the way, how do you guys get those smiley faces etc., on the post? I ain’t got no learnens. 27/09.

        • Mike Pop

          Do a colon or semi-colon then hit shift 0 or shift 9

          ;( :)

          • Old Ranger

            Thanks:) did it work. ;(

  • Wayne’s World

    You say Yankee fans love the spending. Well, I’m a Yankee fan and I think it’s sick and unsatisfying. And for everyone who says the Yanks have always been doing this, I disagree. It’s a matter of degree and proportion. This has gone beyond the edge. How can any of you who are supporting this expenditure of resources take any genuine satisfaction in seeing the Yankees win with these store-bought players? Wow, I can’t wait to see Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett pound on the Royals….And please, don’t bother commenting about how the Yanks have been doing that with a litany of free agents in the past. And don’t pat the Yanks on the back because they do this better than the Red Sox. We’ve gone beyond the limits. There is no satisfaction in winning under these circumstances. And to think that the Yanks have gotten help from public financing to build an expensive new ballpark in which obscene ticket prices will be charged to see these players….and to think about the destruction of a park that was the center of a community….a park that will NOT be replaced, no matter what they claim about equal total parkland being developed at scattered sites, including on top of a parking garage, wow…and to think about the absolute disrespect for history when the decision was made to tear down an historic ballpark, something the Red Sox did not choose to do. And, yes, spare me the rationalization that the bathrooms were too small or the concession lines too long. There was plenty of room for improvement in the old structure…the Yanks chose not to do it so as to create a “demand” for a new ballpark.

    The historic loathing of the Yanks around the country used to be accompanied by admiration. The Yankee organization has done a great job of making sure that the admiration factor is erased.

    • Old Ranger

      Ok, we get it…you don’t like NY Yankees or to live in the 21st century. Things get old and fall down (as it did in1997?) the place is old and falling apart. How come you (nor others) didn’t bitch about all the other new parks, all of which were payed (mostly) with tax $$$$.
      The Stinees have put most all of the money made by the Yanks, back into the club…most owners don’t do that at all.
      As for buying the best players; why not…why let another team buy them? Would it have been better to let them go to Bos? With Tex, we didn’t out bid the competitors…we had a lower bid but, he came to the Yanks anyhow. This is nothing new, it happens a lot, very good self assured players will sign for less money to play for the best and a chance to win a WS. 27/09.

    • LiveFromNY

      Oh please. Yeah, you’re a Yankee fan.

  • gg

    Attanasio is a clown, stop crying in emails to Bloomberg and other media outlets….Henry too….Its so annoying, does anyone remember in recent years a Steinbrenner doing that???…..When we got squeezed on Santana by Gardenhire and Theo did Cahman write an email to the New York papers??….These guys should learn to handle their business like men. Put up or shut up. I hope the Yankees always win but quite frankly I rather see more owners pony up…ESPN should be spending less time talking about our spending and more time asking where our revenue sharing is going in teams like the Florida Marlins…..and to Mr. Attansio, I think a lot of us knew it was stupid to trade LaPorta for 1/2 a season of CC, you didnt think someone was going to outbid you?? Put up or shut up.

  • gg

    Perhaps the owners of other teams should be taking steps to compete rather than complaining….a guy like Frank McCourt buys the Dodgers with no partners in the second biggest market in the US and granted hes got a lot of good young players. How much money must that guy pocket each year owning the whole team. He better resign Manny or atleast not cry about it if we have to step in and do his spending as well as unlikely as it may be. Henry writes an email because he wouldnt drop an extra 1.5 mil each yeah. PA-THET-IC.

  • mike

    1b – tex
    2b – cano
    ss – jeter
    3b – april-rod
    lf – matsui? damon? swish? nady?
    cf – melky? damon?
    rf – nady? swish?
    dh – matsui? damon? swish?

    my batting order
    damon dh
    jeter ss
    arod 3b
    tex 1b
    nady rf
    posada c
    cano 2b
    swish lf
    melky cf

  • ryan

    Damon – LF
    Jeter – SS
    Tex – 1B
    Arod – 3B
    Matsui -DH
    Nady – RF
    Cano – 2B
    Posada – C
    Gardner – CF

    this give a nice balance of Righties and Lefties and allows protection for Cano from Posada.

    • Mike Pop

      I wanna see Swish start in Center.

      • Old Ranger

        Nope, not a chance of him over Brett. Swisher in a corner…yes!

        Thanks for the help on the smiley, I’m going to have some work to do on it. I am use to working on Macs’ (graphics arts), trying to learn this PC stuff is difficult for a guy my age. I know age is not an excuse, it’s the only one I have. Thanks again. 27/09.

        • Jay CT

          O.R.- I think if you do the colon, then the ) or (, but they need to be spaced off the last word, if that makes sense. In other words, make the face its own word. That might fix it.

    • Dave M

      Here’s what I would do.

      1. Damon CF
      2. Jeter SS
      3. Tex 1b
      4. A-Rod 3b
      5. Matsui dh
      6. Nady rf
      7. Swisher lf
      8. Posada c
      9. Cano 2b

      Obviously, leaves us a little weak defensively in CF. But I think this is about as good as it gets offensively.

  • LiveFromNY

    Yankee fans are happy. that is what the organization cares about. They pay their dues and everyone can just shut up about it.

  • Pingback: Healthy Life » Blog Archive » Age is Not an Excuse

  • JimT

    Full disclosure, I’m a Red Sox fan, so people can say and think what they like. But I beieve that it is time for MLB to develop a salary cap. The luxuryt tax was put into place as a compromise and is proving to be ineffective. The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is widening and the prospects for well run teams that aren’t in large markets beomes ever more difficult.

    Lets take a look at the some of the aurguments put forward by Mike and Randy Levine.
    A) The Yankees are following the rules of Baseball.

  • JimT

    Full disclosure, I’m a Red Sox fan, so people can say and think what they like. But I believe that it is time for MLB to develop a salary cap. The luxury tax was put into place as a compromise and is proving to be ineffective. The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is widening and the prospects for well run teams that aren’t in large markets becomes ever more difficult.

    Lets take a look at the some of the arguments put forward by Mike and Randy Levine.
    A) The Yankees are following the rules of Baseball.
    Isn’t this the whole point of discussion, are the rules in place adequate to provide competitive balance? Baseball fans outside of New York would like to see an improved balance of spending between all franchises.

    B) The Yankees are important for the other franchises “gates”. This concept is the height of arrogance. If other good baseball cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City ET all had quality teams they would draw just fine. They don’t need the Yankees or Red Sox if they have a quality team of their own. People on this blog like to use the Pirates as an example. When was the last time that the Pirates had any real hope? Give the fans of western Pa. a quality team with real prospects for success and then see if they need the Yankees to draw.
    There are some cities that (such as Tampa, Oakland, Atlanta) that will never be good MLB destinations. Packing the house with the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox fans 20 or so dates doesn’t solve the greater problem of a bad baseball location.

    C) Mike contends that a salary cap “covers up” for poor management and that teams simply have to improve how they run their teams. Boy is this ever a wrong headed argument. It is my contention that the Yankees have been a very poorly run franchise the past eight years. They simply cover up their mistakes by spending more money. Give organizations such as the Twins, A’s and Indians the same budgets as the Yankees and Red Sox and then an assessment of which are well run organizations can be made.