Dec
10

Granderson, Millwood and the looming CBA talks

By

When Dave Dombrowski decided to trade Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson earlier this week, he didn’t do it because of the potential returns for these players. Although he received a nice haul of young players, live arms and Phil Coke, the Tigers’ GM made it clear, as Hal Bodley wrote, that money was the motivating factor.

“We are making some adjustments and it’s a business decision,” Dombrowski said this week. “Hopefully, we are bringing in people that people will fall in love with.”

By shipping out Granderson and Jackson, the Tigers are saving themselves at least $10 million in 2010 and some more as the years unfold. They have to pay Magglio Ordoñez $18 million, Dontrelle Willis $12 million and Miguel Cabrera $20 million, and to afford that, they couldn’t retain Granderson and Jackson.

Meanwhile, yesterday, the Texas Rangers engaged in some cost-cutting of their own. They shipped Kevin Millwood and his $12 million contract to the Orioles for Chris Ray and a player to be named. The Rangers, nearly bankrupt, will pay $3 million of Millwood’s salary and signed Rich Harden for $7.5 million later in the day. They gained some salary relief and traded a pitcher who averaged 180 better-than-average innings for one who averages around 108 great innings. It too was all about the money.

The other corner, we have the Yankees. They can take on Curtis Granderson a year after signing CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. They can give Andy Pettitte a guaranteed $11.75 million for 2010 while still insisting that the off-season isn’t finished. They can look at Matt Holliday or they can try to retain Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. They can explore salary relief trades such as one that might involve Roy Halladay or they could speak with John Lackey’s representatives about his free agent demands.

The Yankees may have a salary ceiling this year. Rumors have put the figure at anywhere from $185 million to $200 million. But as we know, it’s a soft ceiling. When the right player is available, the Yanks with their new stadium and lucrative regional sports network find the dollars. For the World Champs who play in the nation’s largest media market, money is no issue.

In two years, this will all come to a head. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players union and the MLB owners expires on Dec. 11, 2011, a few days after the Winter Meetings in Dallas are scheduled to wrap up. Again, as the two sides prepare to negotiate, the focus will be on the Yankees and efforts to rein in their spending ways while redistributing the wealth in order to create a level playing field.

In a sense, it shouldn’t come down to that. The Yankees shouldn’t be penalized because the Tigers of the world spend $50 million combined dollars on three players. But on the other hand, baseball’s economic structure is simply broken. When the only teams that can spend real money on top players are the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets, something isn’t right. How baseball tries to fix it this time around will no doubt impact the future of the team we love and follow. Stay tuned. This story of economics is just starting to develop.

Categories : Analysis
  • Rose

    In two years, this will all come to a head. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players union and the MLB owners expires on Dec. 11, 2011, a few days after the Winter Meetings in Dallas are scheduled to wrap up.

    Rumor is they’re going to try to create a “salary floor” for that one…in which the players union will go bonkers over…knowing that once there is a salary floor…mostly always the salary cap comes to follow.

    • A.D.

      Bah, salary floor makes NO sense for baseball, or just economically speaking floors are terrible. It will do one the following:

      1. Nothing
      2. Increase the salaries of random spare parts
      3. Encourage small market teams to overpay for random players
      4. 2 & 3.

      And if you force low budget teams salaries up, they’ll keep overall budgets the same, and just spend less on the draft and player development, thus making their overall organization worse, since they’re forces to spend more than they want on their 25 man roster.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        To your second point, GMs are doing a good job of that this winter without a salary floor.

        • A.D.

          Yeah, well it may happen anyways, but there’s no reason to encourage it/ literally have to do it to make sure your salary number makes the floor.

          Could lead to more front-loading of deals to make sure to hit numbers.

        • MattG

          Actually, no. The GMs have done a very good job of reversing the cost of spare parts. Neyer pointed this out nicely yesterday, using Wolf’s new contract in comparison with Suppan’s from 4-5 years ago. By all accounts, Wolf is the better pitcher coming off of better years, and he got much less. The market for spare parts has become depressed.

        • andrew

          I posted this in another thread about two weeks ago, but the CFO of MLB spoke at my school recently and talked about how a salary floor would be terrible for baseball and would just cause teams like the Pirates, Royals and Marlins to go out of business. I don’t think a salary floor is a realistic option considering the opposition to it within baseball.

          • MattG

            A salary floor is ludicrous, but a system that rewards success needs to be put in place. There are ways to award teams unequal shares of the revenue sharing/luxury tax pool based on their performance.

            But the owner’s will not agree to that, because they do not care about parity. They care about profits, and the easier the profits come, the better.

            • andrew

              There are ways to award teams unequal shares of the revenue sharing/luxury tax pool based on their performance.

              But if you reward a team like the Rays for being successful from revenue sharing and punish the Pirates for being terrible, that will only widen the gap between the bottom 5 teams and the rest of the league.

              • MattG

                So be it. The Rays will use those rewards to keep their aging stars, which will lead to a sustained performance, and an eventual decline. The Rays get to keep their identifiable players, and go on a nice run. Their fans come to identify with those players, and everyone is happy.

                Meanwhile, the Pirates clean house and rebuild solely through the draft. They invest everything in scouting, get all the best players, and start tearing up the minor leagues. Since the rewards also consider MiLB winning percentage, the Pirates start earning a little bigger piece of the pie, just in time to pay arbitration raises, and eventually they and the Rays have effectively changed places.

                In fact, another idea I had that I always liked: revenue sharing money should be made available to teams solely for the purpose of retaining their own FA players. This would seem to reward teams for good decisions at every point of the success cycle.

                Fans and players would love it. Owners would hate it. They would have to be smart, and they’ve already done that. They don’t want to be smart anymore.

                • andrew

                  In fact, another idea I had that I always liked: revenue sharing money should be made available to teams solely for the purpose of retaining their own FA players.

                  But if you want them to build through the draft, they need to be able to draft high quality players without fear of them not signing. The Rays used revenue sharing to build up their minor league system using resources poured into scouting and the draft. Preventing a team like the Pirates from using revenue sharing for the draft would defeat the purpose of the system.

                • MattG

                  If the Pirates need revenue sharing for the draft, they are in way more trouble than I can imagine. An entire draft can cost less than one year of Rich Harden.

                • MatyRuggz

                  How about a Larry Bird clause for MLB? Penalize teams $$ for signing free agents from other teams or something like that? I guess that would be a reverse Larry Bird clause then.

                • toad

                  In fact, another idea I had that I always liked: revenue sharing money should be made available to teams solely for the purpose of retaining their own FA players.

                  I like this idea too. I think some of the resentment about money has less to do with absolute amounts than with the perception that a small market’s stars are always going to find their way to NY or another big-money team.

                  No one wants to think that their team is effectively a farm club. Helping teams keep their stars would alleviate this. It would also add stability to the rosters, which helps create fan loyalty.

    • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Where did you hear/read this rumor? Just curious… I’d be very surprised if there was a serious discussion about a salary floor, I don’t think anyone likes that idea.

  • A.D.

    The Yanks didn’t tell the Tigers to give 34 million to Robertson, Willis, and Bonderman this year.

    While some teams just deal will much lower payroll, i.e. the Royals, Rays, A’s, Etc. Many times its bad contracts that sink these teams payrolls.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Section 105

    What kind of changes do you see coming/expect?

    They currently have a tax if you spend over ‘x’ amount, and they Yankees have no problem paying it.

    The players union will NEVER, EVER agree to a salary cap…EVER, so I don’t see that as a solution.

    • Rose

      There are solutions. Look at the Rays…you can stockpile #1 draft picks over the years and have quite a ballclub. Sure you may not be able to afford them after a certain point…but that’s when you trade them for other Top 10 draft picks from other clubs.

      The Yankees have been hanging on to superstars long term which doesn’t net them anybody else’s draft pick most of the time…and on top of that…when they sign somebody elses Class A free agent…they give up theirs as well…so IMO, it somewhat evens out IF the other team has good management.

      IMO, if you’re a low market ballclub…put most of your money in your management and talent search teams…and then go from there.

      • Chris

        The Rays didn’t win because of their #1 draft picks. They won because they finally got smart in how they manage the team. There were a couple of players that were due to high draft picks (Longoria, BJ Upton, Garza in the trade for Young), but most of the players were just smart pickups that any team could have made.

        • andrew

          Agreed. For small market teams: management >>>> money

        • Rose

          The Rays didn’t win because of their #1 draft picks. They won because they finally got smart in how they manage the team.

          IMO, if you’re a low market ballclub…put most of your money in your management and talent search teams…and then go from there.

  • Rose

    In a sense, it shouldn’t come down to that. The Yankees shouldn’t be penalized because the Tigers of the world spend $50 million combined dollars on three players. But on the other hand, baseball’s economic structure is simply broken. When the only teams that can spend real money on top players are the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets, something isn’t right. How baseball tries to fix it this time around will no doubt impact the future of the team we love and follow. Stay tuned. This story of economics is just starting to develop.

    It really shouldn’t…and if they thought steroids hurt baseball…this might put it to it’s knees.

    There are owners out there (i.e. Ted Turner) who have investments in all sorts of different things…and they ‘just so happen’ to also own a baseball team…which is most certainly not their #1 priority. So they set a reasonable budget and that’s the end of it. But because the Steinbrenner’s #1 priority is their investment with their baseball team…they should be forced to be on the same level as somebody like Ted Turner who doesn’t really care as much?

    And if certain teams are struggling to raise money…then why do they exist? Why do we keep adding extra expansion teams where teams are going to struggle?

    If it’s such a big deal there are other avenues to go down. You don’t create a salary cap to fix these problems. That will only add more. IMO anyway.

    • jsbrendog

      didnt turner sell the team many moons ago?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        February 2007. Sold to Liberty Media and John Malone.

        • Rose

          Well let’s pretend it’s 2006 then. Same song and dance. Or if you’d prefer to substitute Ted Turner with, say, Nintendo…you may do that too.

        • Ed

          1976 – Ted Turner buys team
          1996 – Sold to Time Warner
          2007 – Sold to Liberty Media

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            Gracias.

      • jsbrendog
      • Ed

        Yeah, sold to Time Warner, back before the Time Warner / AOL fiasco. The mess with AOL lead to the Braves cutting payroll and ending their run in first place.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Everyone is a free agent every year. One year contracts only. Charlie Finley style. Of course, I’m kidding……….or am I? Sure I am………or am I?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Will the Yankees get day-glo electric blue pullover shirt uniforms?

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        I’m not sure. But they will be playing with flourescent yellow baseballs.

  • nick blasioli

    this is all the more reason the yankees need to strike now,,before all this crap takes place…sign the best and lock them up for a long time…then let the chips fall where they may..

    • andrew

      Hm. If all this “crap takes place,” wouldn’t you want the Yankees to cut payroll rather than add it? We wouldn’t want to be caught $75mill over the cap…

  • Bo

    The PA will never let there be a cap.

    The industry is flush will revenues. Is it the players problem that the Det management team is incompetent and gave big deals to bad players?

    And dont forget the richest owners reside in Minnesota and Kansas City. They can spend to improve if they want. They choose not to.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    The Yankees shouldn’t be penalized because the Tigers of the world spend $50 million combined dollars on three players.

    And, again, the Tigers’ problem isn’t that they’re spending 38M on Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordoñez.

    It’s that they’re spending 34.5M on Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, and Nate Robertson.

    • Rose

      Ned Ryerson? BING!

  • M

    To me the problem more the lower payroll teams than the high payroll teams. If you look at the last 10 years compared to the 5 before for the Yankees, when they have had the highest payroll by far, it did not promise a Title. The 5 before when the Yanks were in line with all the other teams, is when they were dominant.

    What is wrong with baseball is what has been stated by Boras( thought stupidly without facts), Jayson Stark, and by Jim Hendry… The lowest payroll teams are bringing in $80 mill before they sell 1 ticket!!!
    The Pirates for example have a payroll of around $40 mill, before they sell 1 ticket they still have a $40 mill profit!!! I think that is atrocious for a city that built a stadium for a perennial loser with the promise of a competitive team.

    • jsbrendog

      their gm was an incompetent though. hopefully this new regime can build a competitive team in the next 2-3 yrs. it will be easier since they are in the nl even though the central is usually solid at the top with the cards and sometimes cubs sometimes stros

    • andrew

      There are many more costs to running a baseball team than paying the players though. If the payroll is $40million and they have $80million to spend, they have to do plenty of other things like pay front office members, minor leaguers, coaching staffs. They are right up against that $80million in no time.

      • Ed

        If the payroll is $40million and they have $80million to spend, they have to do plenty of other things like pay front office members, minor leaguers, coaching staffs. They are right up against that $80million in no time.

        Anyone with a major league contract, the manager, and the general manager are really the only people making big cash. Coaches and top front office people are very low 6 digit salaries. Anyone at the minor league level is making very little – little enough that they probably need an offseason job.

        The extra costs do add up – especially stadium leases – but it’s not quite as bad as you’re making it out to be.

        • andrew

          It is more than just baseball salaries. Paying stadium attendants, security guards, hotel rooms and buses for minor league teams. I think you are underestimating the amount of money it costs to run a baseball team outside of MLB player salary costs.

          • Ed

            Agree to disagree here?

            I fully realize those costs exist, but the vast majority of those additional salaries are in the ballpark of $1,000 a month for 6 months a year. A couple million a year is probably a generous estimate on the payroll for people not important enough to get listed on Cot’s Contracts.

          • Hikker

            Whoa how come a beer and dog cost a $20.00 spot? It sounds like their may be some hidden revenue maybe….

  • Chris

    Why are teams struggling so much financially now when the amount of revenue going to players has dropped significantly? Neyer touches on this point in his post here:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweets.....olf-part-2

    When the percentage of revenues going to player salaries drops from 63% to 53% (that would be a savings of roughly $600M this year), I find it hard to believe that all of these teams are suddenly going bankrupt.

    • Ed

      Why are teams struggling so much financially now when the amount of revenue going to players has dropped significantly?

      It’s more that a lot of the owners treat the baseball teams as just another investment. They lost money elsewhere and need to make it up from the team. When the overall economy is doing badly, people usually won’t question it too much if you claim to be suffering.

  • Jersey

    You can force teams to distribute funds to everyone else via a luxury tax, but you can’t force everyone else to spend it properly. A salary cap, salary floor, increased revenue sharing – none of it will fix bad management or indifferent ownership. I love the idea of a much more level playing field, and I’d love to see what an Oakland or Minnie front office could do with several million more to play with, but you know lots of clubs – or owners – would take the extra dollars to mean a renewed license for stupid.

  • http://www.Yankeeist.com Mike

    2011 is a long time from now. Its difficult to make predictions about what the CBA will be when the Economy may well have recovered. Right now some teams are struggling, but everyone’s house could be in order in two years.

    Its unclear that salary caps work. The NBA has many financial problems, and less parity than Baseball, and horrible salary dump trades, and a cap. The NFL is DROPPING its cap next year.

    My only concern about a cap is that it would be put in place, at least philosophically, to harm the Yankees at the benefit of the Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels and Dodgers. What would a realistic cap be? $140 million? $120 million?

    If I’m Brian Cashman I would make it clear that every New York advertiser would join me during contract negotiations with big players, if a cap were put in place.

  • RZG

    “The Rangers, nearly bankrupt, will pay $3 million of Millwood’s salary and signed Rich Harden for $7.5 million later in the day.”

    If the Rangers are nearly bankrupt is the signing of Harden like when an alcoholic finds a $20 bill outside a bar and goes right in to spend their new-found riches?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Yes, but, here’s the difference:

      The alcoholic doesn’t get money from people paying to gain admission to the bar to watch him drink. The Rangers do.

      They could have sold off Millwood and pocketed the savings, but reinvesting it in Harden may be best for them in the long run if he helps them win more ballgames than Millwood would and thus, brings them more ticket/advertising/merchandising revenue.

  • MattG

    We’re going to hear a lot about “parity,” and when we do, we all know its a code word for “take more of the Yankees’ money.” Because if you take the Yankees’ money and spread it around, that leads to greater parity, right?

  • Rose

    All you have to do is look at the moves the management of these lower payroll teams are doing. The Diamondbacks have a few extra dollars this year so they swap younger perfectly capable arms for similar more expensive ones (in the case with Jackson anyway).

    Then you have the Astros signing Brandon Lyon (giving up a pick I believe) and signing him to a 3/$15M contract?? Huh??

    You have Seattle handing Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre those ridiculous contracts…the Nationals with Pudge?

    I mean it’s just bad management. That’s all it is. Sit down at those meetings and force low market teams to spend more on their management and talent searching teams.

    • MattG

      But there will always be bad management, average management, and good management. That’s no answer.

      Rewarding good management would be an answer. Dividing the revenue sharing pool by, perhaps, a proportional relationship to an organization’s winning percentage, in both the MLB and MiLB levels, would behoove teams to try and adopt sound practices.

      There will always be teams that fail. Someone has to have the worst management.

      • Rose

        Someone has to have the worst management.

        Agreed. But “worst” doesn’t have to be as bad as it is…it can be comparable to what is expected…but still be the “worst” technically. IMO anyway.

      • Ed

        Dividing the revenue sharing pool by, perhaps, a proportional relationship to an organization’s winning percentage, in both the MLB and MiLB levels, would behoove teams to try and adopt sound practices.

        Minor League winning percentage is completely meaningless. Your #1 priority is getting your prospects the desired amount of playing time. After that, you fill in the roster with scrubs as necessary. You don’t emphasize winning. If you do, you end up overworking prospects performing well, or benching prospects that aren’t performing up to expectations in favor of AAAA type guys.

        • MattG

          I would bet there is a strong correlation between minor league talent and minor league winning. Very strong.

          • Ed

            I would bet there is a strong correlation between minor league talent and minor league winning. Very strong.

            But what type of talent?

            Guys like Shelly Duncan help a AAA team win far more than guys like Austin Jackson do. But you really don’t want to encourage teams to take at bats away from Jackson-like players to give them to Duncan-like players.

    • A.D.

      giving up a pick I believe

      He’s a type B, and yes, classic Astros baseball.

  • Brian Paul

    This is the best post you guys have done in a long time. Great job Ben!

    When you think about it, the Yankees “stigma” will always be that they buy championships. Is it fair? Not at all. Is it true… well, our team does spend more money than most, but to the point of others in this thread, why should they be punished for it? You would assume that the fact that the Yanks are taxed proportionally to the amount they spend on themselves would have vindicated them a bit. Still, fans refuse to blame ownership for their team’s failures. M’s point is absolutely correct. The pirates make $40M before ever selling ONE ticket. They sell off all of their best players, yet they play in a virtual palace. (Which by the way has the best outfield perspective of any other MLB stadium, it literally is beautiful) The Pittsburgh Pirates have become a tourist trap! Their baseball team has become a insignificant, and unsatisfying novelty that the owners cash in on.

    I would appreciate more posts discussing this topic, because of its significance to the public perception of our franchise. It has the potential to devalue almost every championship the Yankees win until (and if) the system changes to the public’s acceptance.

    Great work as always from the RAB team. Keep it up.

    • Rose

      Depends on your definition of “buy.” We had a shitload of homegrown guys on our team last year…but people will ALWAYS still say we “bought” it regardless. And perhaps, technically, keeping your homegrown talent for 14+ years is buying them too…because a lot of teams can’t…but still.

      The 2004 Red Sox had 1 home grown talent guy on their World Series roster. Trot Nixon. Nobody else was home grown. Everybody else was purchased via free agency or traded for with extensions. But you won’t ever hear a peep about them buying anything at all.

      That’s just how the ball bounces…

      • A.D.

        Basically many people hate the Yankees, they’re one of the great polarizing forces in sports, and because of that people are going to complain about something. It might as well be “buying” championships, because as a fan, who cares, championship is a championship regardless of payroll.

    • AndrewYF

      There isn’t really a stigma. The Yankees technically bought their 77 and 78 championships by signing more and better free agents than any other team. Was it their fault that teams were stuck in doing business like they had in the past and didn’t realize the opportunity there?

      In the late 90s, the Yankees consistently had one of the highest payrolls, and their rosters (and especially rotations) were filled with expensive veterans.

      History will only remember that the Yankees fielded a fantastic, exciting, and memorable team in 2009, featuring the best collection of talent in the game. Unless it’s discovered that the Yankees paid teams or umpires to tilt games in their favor, there will never be any kind of ‘asterisk’ next to the 2009 Championship. They will forever be the champions of baseball in 2009, and no one will be able to take that away from them.

      • Will

        If anyone thinks this current Yankee team has a stigma, they need to check out the 1927 Yankees payroll. Gehrig and Ruth were making more than the teams at the bottom of the scale (just like Arod and Jeter now, for example).

  • pete

    I think if they make any significant changes it should be that teams have to reinvest a certain percentage of their revenue (lets say 90%) into their team, and a certain percentage (let’s say 75%) directly into their 25-man. Right now the yankees are one of the few teams that annually reinvests close to 100% of its revenue into the team. THAT is the problem.

  • Will

    How exactly is the economic system of baseball broken? Who isn’t doing very well under the current system? What goals aren’t being met because of it? Until you can answer those questions, there is no basis for the original conclusion.

  • A.D.

    But on the other hand, baseball’s economic structure is simply broken.

    This is debatable. They aren’t perfect, but as its been brought up numerous times (on this blog). There is a fair amount of parody in teams making the playoffs, and big spending doesn’t necessarily equal the playoffs, or even winning. More often than not its management then money that leads to success.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

      I realize you probably meant to say “parity” but there is a fair amount of parody to this as well.

  • Mac

    ESPN’s Buster Olney heard “the Yankees are in the process of negotiating with Johnny Damon’s camp.” He adds that the Yanks “intend to use market forces to pressure Damon to make a decision quickly.” I’m sure Scott Boras will love that.

    • Rose

      I’m not too thrilled about it.

      Much rather have Matsui back than Damon at this point.

      Slide Melky over to LF and put Matsui (the better hitter and much cheaper option) in the DH spot.

      Doesn’t make any sense to me if they’re trying to cut payroll. Pay MORE for a worse DH option?? Unless they plan on putting a worse LF option out in LF and trading Melky or something…but then we still have no DH. I just don’t like it.

      • Mac

        Yeah, I would rather have a primary lefty DH signed to 1 year for less money. Matsui or Delgado all the way.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Nick Johnson should be in consideration as well. His power should rebound and his on base skills are wonderful.

          • Mike Pop

            If a one year deal, I’m in. If more, I’m not.

            Considering from what we know and what you said here, I would think he most definitely gets more than one year.

            Jorge might need to DH more in 2011 when Montero takes over.

            ;)

          • Rose

            True, but we’ve speculated that he’d certainly get more than a 1 year deal and probably be more expensive than Damon.

      • Mike Pop

        Damon is probably the best fit overall when you think about versatility.

        Jeter – SS
        Damon – DH
        Tex – 1B
        A-Rod – 3B
        Jorge – C
        Swisher – RF
        Granderson – CF
        Cano – 2B
        Melky – LF

        However you want to line them up. Doesn’t matter to me.

        Delgado is intriguing too.

        • Rose

          That’s what a 4th outfielder is for though…you can slide Granderson to LF and plunk Gardner in CF if you need some versatility. Besides, up until the playoffs…Damon was miserable for a very long time. Matsui doesn’t get miserable for very long. He seems to always keep poise…and always have clutch hits. He really is something else.

          I don’t think you pay double just for versatility you can get with your 4th OF that’s all.

          • Mike Pop

            I hear you. I’m not very worried about it though.

            I do wonder if the Yankees are going to let Granderson play against lefties though and give him an extended chance to at least be serviceable against them.

            • Rose

              I remember someone pointing out that Granderson had a .731 OPS on the road against lefties…(sorry if I forgot who!)

              But that’s somewhat interesting I guess anyway…

            • Rose

              Oh yeah, and we have that new Hoffman character too. Which is even MORE depth lol. Matsui is just an all around better bang for your buck.

              Matsui will be infinitely cheaper and is a better hitter than Damon.

              I’m curious as to what they’re thinking right now…

              • Mac

                There is not guarantee that Hoffman breaks camp. He has never performed at the major league level so if they don’t think hes going to help the team then they will ship him back. So I doubt that will play much of a factor into Damon. But whatever they do, don’t lock down a player more than 1 year.

                Sign Matsui or Delgado to a 1 year deal and then go after Adam Dunn or Carlos Pena to be your primary DH the following year.

                • Reggie C.

                  Some guys do get off to a quick start. If Hoffman gets it going in spring training and mashes the rusty pitching, he could make the team w/o controversy.

    • Reggie C.

      Imo, a strategy to pressure Damon to make a decision quickly has a greater chance of not working out, especially with Boras at the helm. With news leaking that Boras wants 3 years and “big money” for Rick Ankiel, Boras is giving the appearance that he’s not going to budge on demanding multi-year deals.

      Is it true that Boras also bad-mouthed Granderson yesterday? (1050 espn radio)

  • Ed

    The Rangers, nearly bankrupt, will pay $3 million of Millwood’s salary and signed Rich Harden for $7.5 million later in the day. They gained some salary relief and traded a pitcher who averaged 180 better-than-average innings for one who averages around 108 great innings. It too was all about the money.

    This one doesn’t make sense to me. Harden also has up to $3.5M in incentives as part of his contract. Millwood made $12m, so if Harden pitches a full season, they’ll pay more than if they just kept Millwood. If he doesn’t pitch a full season, they still have to pay someone else to cover those innings. Assuming Harden gets no incentives, and they replace him with a guy making the minimum, you get $7.5m + $0.4m + $3m (from Millwood trade) = ~$11m. So basically if Harden sucks they save $1m, otherwise, they’re not really saving and may pay more.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      So basically if Harden sucks they save $1m, otherwise, they’re not really saving and may pay more.

      Agreed. However, Harden’s a great bet to outperform Millwood (if he can actually remain healthy), so, while they may pay more, they probably GET more as well.

      • Bo

        How is he a great bet to out perform him?

        You said it yourself. He cant stay healthy. How is that a great bet???

        • Mike Pop

          Because 100 innings of Harden is probably more valuable than 160 or more innings from shitty Kevin Millwood.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          :: facepalm ::

          Do you understand the meaning of the word “if”, Bo?

      • Ed

        Agreed. However, Harden’s a great bet to outperform Millwood (if he can actually remain healthy), so, while they may pay more, they probably GET more as well.

        My instinct was to agree with you, but I decided to check FanGraphs first. WAR values here from 2002 – 2009:

        Harden: N/A, 1.6, 4.5, 3.9, 0.8, 0.4, 4.4, 1.8
        Millwood: 4.9, 4.5, 2.8, 3.9, 5.1, 2.7, 3.3, 2.4

        There’s only 2 seasons where Harden did better than Millwood, and Millwood’s top 2 seasons are better than Harden’s top 2.

        Guess it comes down to whether you’d rather gamble on a 35 year old with a solid health record or a 28 year old with a really bad health record.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Guess it comes down to whether you’d rather gamble on a 35 year old with a solid health record or a 28 year old with a really bad health record.

          Exactly.

          The variable, here, though, is the money and incentives. So, really, it’s do you want to gamble on a 35 year old with a solid health record or a 28 year old with a really bad health record AND a contract that will alter his compensation package based on his healthiness.

          • A.D.

            While they get Ray & the rule V pick, tops they save 500K, which I wouldn’t imagine is that big a deal, and as Ed noted, not the best chance that Harden outperforms Millwood.

  • Bo

    Sports is the only industry that has people out there who openly support billionaire owners making more at the expense of millionaire workers.

    The auto industry should really hire the national sports writers as PR people.

    If you cant support a team financially you should sell or contract. Theres no law that says a city or region should have a competitive team. If tampa cant support a team they should sell it, move it or contract it.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      You know, instead of saying the word “oversimplification”, I’m now going to start saying the word “Boversimplification.”

    • Will

      I’ve always found that ironic. I think the reason is we all want to see these players as peers, but that gets hard when they are making $10mn a year. We already know the owners are an economic class above, so there is no jealousy.

      The bottom line for baseball is both the players and owners are doing very well in the current system. Revenues have been booming (at an even greater rate than the NFL, which has allowed MLB to not only close the gap with football, but has also left it poised to become the top grossing sport in the United States) and popularity is at an all-time high. Other than the hand wringing that many like to do (which is common across the board in baseball, whether its steroids, late night post season games, stadium financing, ads in stadiums, etc.), there is no compelling reason to alter the economic system. Only greed (Mr. Henry) is a logical motivation, but why should fans care who makes more money?

  • mos

    RE: the Rangers:

    As a NY fan living in TX, I get a lot of info on the Rangers, too. Their owner is trying to sell (or maybe *has* sold, I forget). A lot of what he’s doing is trying to increase his immediate value, without any regard to any future the Rangers might have. He’s actually tried a couple of *really* transparently stupid moves that MLB has blocked from completing. I believe they were also told that unless they knocked money off their salary expenses, they wouldn’t be allowed to make any moves this winter, at all.

    • A.D.

      What moves were blocked?

      • mos

        Sorry this response is so late, I don’t know if you’re going to return to this thread anymore, but oh well.

        The biggest one was that the (managing) owner tried to change the TV deal. He wanted a large up-front payment, and then a reduced deal for each succeeding year. It would have been devastating for the Rangers and their future owners, but would have netted him a nice going away present.

  • Will

    For all the talk about the trouble in Texas, Hicks is on the verge of selling the team for over $500mn, which means in 10 years he will have doubled his investment.

  • Rob in CT

    You solve the problem (which is at least 1/2 a problem of perception, in that small market fans feel things are hopeless, when they’re really not) best by adding more teams to the NY market. The Yankees have the advantage of being in an absolutely fantastic market, with only one other team splitting that market with them. Even if you split it 50/50 (which it isn’t, thanks in part to the Yankees history and thanks in part to the Yankees being much better run than the Mets), the Yankees have a market that blows away anybody else’s, even when you factor in the higher cost of doing business in NY.

    The ideal solution to that isn’t to take money away from the Yankees and give it to other teams, but rather to have more teams compete with the Yankees for the NY market. The problems with that are obvious: the Yankees and Mets would fight like hell to prevent more teams in the NY area, you’d need new stadiums, and even if all that got sorted out it would take a while before the new teams would seriously eat into the Yankees market share.

    Salary caps/floors suck, for pretty much everybody but some of the rich-but-not-the-richest teams (Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, Mariners, White Sox?).

    If there is to be a salary floor (ugh) it should be a “baseball operations” spending floor. This would include money spent on draft picks and international free agents as well as major leaguers. That way you don’t just force poor teams to pay more for mediocrity. I still think it’s a bad idea, though.

    • Will

      I think it’s bad business to dramatically alter your financial structure to cure a perception problem. That’s a recipe for real problems.

      While I also think adding more teams to the NY market is a great idea in theory, it really isn’t very practical. For starters, you’d have to find a team willing to move to NY. Considering the entrenched position of both existing teams, that endeavor could require a very heavy investment with mounting early losses. What’s more, if you open the NY market, you’d also have to open all the others. I am sure there are more than a few owners who enjoy their exclusivity. Finally, the other teams would have to compensate the Yankees and Mets. These are all very substantial barriers to entry.

      You are dead on about salary caps though. As in the NFL, the only teams they help are the big market clubs who want a reason not to spend as much as they can afford (i.e., want to maximize profit instead of wins).

      • Rob in CT

        I agree it’s got all sorts of obstacles. And yes, you would need to open all the markets.

        I do think there is a real problem with baseball’s economics. It’s overstated by some, but it’s real. The root of the problem lies in the barriers to entry we’re talking about. I’m proposing more of a free market than currently exists. The other option is more of a controlled market (revenue sharing based on market size/potential, as proposed years ago by Derek Zumsteg, whose name I think I may have just mispelled).

        When possible, I favor free market solutions. Unfortunately, the truth may be that the barriers to entry are simply too high to go that route.

        • Will

          What is the problem though? Who isn’t doing well? What goals are not being met?

          I am a free market advocate, but only where a free market does and can exist. That isn’t the case in baseball. Because I love the game, I would advocate any kind of system that was in the best interest of the sport. From my standpoint, the current system is working exceedingly well. I would be open to all sorts of ideas is someone could fist convince me that there is a problem.

  • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

    It may have been Mondesi’s idea a while back, and I believe I criticized it at the time…but what about a European football-style league set-up? Not doing well? Your major-league city just dropped into the AAAA league. (I’m not serious by the way, though it’s fun to imagine.)

    • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      It was me, and it was the greatest idea ever. You’re all just haters.

      http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....ent-598018

      • Rob in CT

        Another idea that is interesting in theory but has all sorts of obstacles in its way. It requires blowing up the current system and starting from scratch (which I’d be ok with, but most would recoil from – especially the owners!).

        • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Oh totally… It’ll never happen, it’s totally an exercise in futility. But, in an imaginary world, if you were starting MLB from scratch, I think I could make a very convincing case for my league/playoff structure.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        It’s a horrible idea, and I hate it for one main reason:

        It’s European.

        Sincerely,
        Glenn Beck and his legion of minions

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      His set up would be okay, but teams would throw a fucking hissy fit if they got thrown into the lesser (he called it National, I believe) league. I guess you could do it by record. The top 15 go to the American, the bottom 15 go Natl. The only problem that could arise is how many teams to move up/down each year.

      • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        2 teams move up, 2 teams move down, every year. That way, you’ve got 12 teams in the “playoffs” every season – the top 4 teams in the inferior league, the bottom 4 teams in the superior league, and the top 4 teams in the superior league. Playoffs galore, with a better probability of the bad teams reaching a playoff round of some sort and a greater probability of the best/most deserving teams reaching the championship. Just about every team has a realistic chance of reaching some sort of postseason play, they all have something fun to play for all year, without hurting the integrity of the championship playoff system. Seriously… I know it’ll never happen, but my system is like TSJC’s proverbial ninja, it accomplishes f*cking every goal.

        • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

          God, you’re brilliant, Congressman. That idea would be fantastic. You should run for government in the Philippines.

          • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            (Sigh) I know, it’s a gift.

            • http://www.livingwithballs.com Living with Balls

              That sounds like format in my slow pitch softball league.

  • bottom line

    The best solution may be totally counter-intuirtive. If you eliminate the amatuer draft, you go a long way towards eliminating the need for successful teams to sign free agents to maintain their success.

    The current system leaves a successful team that wants to stay successful no choice but to spend big on established players. If you set up the annual draft as a lottery (or at least every round after the first round, say) everybody starts out from the same point in access to the best young talent. Yes, the Yankees will have more to spend. But their hit rate — their accuracy in identifying talent — will be lower than with established players.

    Teams with money will continue to have an advantage, but it will be lessened. And there should be some general downward pressure on free agent salries as you’re not forcing the good teams into that sole avenue to get top talent. This should make it easier for lower revenue teams to re-sign their own players and participate in the free agent market.

    Can’t imagine Bud Selig going for this though if he lives to 200. Everything he’s done has been designed to “level the playing field.” He simply doesn’t realize how counter-prductive all those efforts have become.

    • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

      “The best solution may be totally counter-intuirtive. If you eliminate the amatuer draft, you go a long way towards eliminating the need for successful teams to sign free agents to maintain their success. ”

      More than that, small market teams would have less pressure to pay X amount if you didn’t have “1st round draft pick” attached to a guy’s name.

    • Will

      This doesn’t make sense to me, and not because it is counter intuitive. There is no mechanism in it that would prevent large market teams from spending money on free agents.

      • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

        Everybody has budgets.

      • MattG

        They can’t sign everybody, and there will be more talent available at prices other teams can afford.

        • Will

          How will there be more talent available? All it does is eliminate the current slotting system with a lottery? What else is different?

    • MattG

      This is the Charlie Finley idea on steroids. Everyone is a free agent every single year, no matter age or service time. Selig should not be the one against it, the player’s association should be. With a free agent pool that is as large as possible, salaries will be as low as possible.

      • Will

        Finley’s idea was to only have one year contracts. Unless I am missing something, the idea above doesn’t advocate that.

  • http://www.livingwithballs.com Living with Balls

    The current system is certainly beneficial to the Yankees, which I like. However, I do think things need to change. There are a good percentage of teams that just have zero chance of making the playoffs. That isn’t good for MLB as a whole.

    • Will

      What team has zero chance to make the playoffs?

  • http://nyyu.blogspot.com Mike

    Wait a minute…

    Texas sends Millwood (and his 12 mil contract, minus 3 mil) to Baltimore then signs Harden for 7.5 mil.

    7.5 + 3 = 10.5 + PTBNL’s pay + Ray’s pay.

    How is this cost-cutting?