Of all the bad contracts…

Guest Post: The Lottery Ticket
Cashman Notes: A-Rod, Andruw, Nakajima

The Yankees currently have a need, and for once they’re not throwing money at it. According to some reports, it’s not because they haven’t found anything they like, but rather because they’re unwilling to raise payroll any further. They’re already at around $200 million for 2012, and we’ve already heard more than enough about the possible austerity budget for 2014. Whether they’re really trying to get payroll to a certain level by 2014, of they’re just getting out of the habit of giving out big-money, long-term contracts, it means that their biggest need this off-season, pitching, won’t get typical Yankee attention.

While avoiding long-term contracts for pitchers such as C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and Edwin Jackson make sense to varying degrees, what’s striking about this off-season is the Yankees’ reluctance to explore short-term deals that could boost the 2012 rotation. They’ve distanced themselves from Roy Oswalt even after learning he seeks only a one-year deal. More alarmingly, they’ve backed off Hiroki Kuroda, a pitcher who is not only seeking a short-term deal, but is also a pitcher the Yankees reportedly like.

Why would the Yankees choose not to pursue a pitcher they like if he only requires a one-year contract? There are a few reasons, but these seem the most plausible.

1. They’re not interested in paying the price for Kuroda plus the luxury tax. The contracts on the book are already there and can’t go anywhere. Adding Kuroda will effectively add nearly $17 million to total 2012 expenditures.

2. They’re worried that Kuroda won’t handle the transition to the AL in general, and the AL East specifically, well. If he’s not measurably better than Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett, he’s not worth much, never mind $17 million. Since the Yankees clearly have a budget this winter, that $17 million could effectively wipe out any remaining flexibility, which could affect other aspects of the team. In other words, it’s a bigger risk than they’d normally consider for a player on a one-year deal.

Unfortunately, this ties the Yankees hands. They can’t do anything with the big contracts currently on the books. The players have no-trade clauses, play an integral role on the 2012 team, or are untradeable. That money is on the books and is not going anywhere, much to everyone’s chagrin.

We can look back through recent Yankees history and take umbrage with certain contracts. The A-Rod contract stands out. The Yankees not only had him on what was, at the time, a fairly reasonable contract, but they also had payments coming fro Texas to help offset the costs. When he opted out and re-signed they lost it all. Now they’re paying luxury tax on a $27.5 million average annual contract for the next six years. While Rodriguez played an integral role on the 2009 championship team, it’s still pretty clear that the Yankees will later suffer for that contract. It’s certainly one that is holding them back from making other moves.

Yet if you look at the contracts doled out after A-Rod, it’s hard to find complaints. The Yankees needed CC Sabathia in the worst way following 2008. While no one wants to hear it now, they also needed A.J. Burnett. At the time they had two returning starting pitchers, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain, both of whom were coming off fairly major injuries. Cashman said at the outset that he was signing two starting pitchers. Sabathia and Burnett were hands down the best available. The Yankees did take a gamble on Burnett’s health, though that has rarely been an issue in his three seasons with the team. It’s easy to hate the contract now because of his performance, but at the time it made total sense. The Yankees simply needed talented arms at that exact moment.

Then there’s the Mark Teixeira contract, another one that’s coming under increased scrutiny after two disappointing seasons. But as with Burnett, it’s tough to look back on that and see a folly. The first baseman at the time was Nick Swisher, a player the Yankees apparently held in lesser regard than Xavier Nady. Their 3-4-5 hitters were going to be Hideki Matsui, A-Rod, and, well, probably Nady or Swisher. That might not be horrible, but it’s not the formidable core we’d seen from past Yankees teams. Bringing in Teixeira beefed up the offense in a significant way.

The Yankees remained quiet in 2010, though they did trade for Curtis Granderson. Yet his contract is relatively reasonable — he far outperformed it in 2011. The following off-season, though, the Yankees did hand out some big contracts. Mariano Rivera got two years and $30 million. Derek Jeter got three years and $51 million. It’s easy to complain about that contract, since Jeter will probably never provide production commensurate with his salary. It’s tough to say what they were going to do in that situation. Would they have let him walk? Would he have walked? Who would have played shortstop? There are just too many questions involved with that deal.

That leaves just one big-money contract from last winter: Rafael Soriano. Bringing him in wasn’t a bad move, per se. After all, he’s capable of legitimate shutdown performances. But at the time the Yankees already had a quality setup corps in Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson. Adding Soriano wasn’t exactly necessary. As I wrote at the time

In terms of the 2011 team, there are no complaints. The Yankees had plenty of money to spend, and they certainly upgraded the back end of the bullpen. This will lead to a greater enjoyment of the 2011 season. The Yanks might win a few games that they otherwise would have lost, and we will all be a little less irritable the next mornings. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is what this means for the 2012 and 2013 teams.

Maybe the Yankees really do have a limitless budget. Maybe they can raise it to $220 million if the right players become available. Brian Cashman has always asserted that he operates under a strict budget, but Brian Cashman also said that he wasn’t going to surrender his first round pick in this year’s draft. If Soriano’s contract doesn’t prevent the Yankees from making a move in the next three years, it’s hard not to like it. But if they can’t or don’t make a move because of payroll concerns, then the contract becomes a problem.

Now the Yankees have a legitimate need. The $11 million they’re paying Soriano this year could easily buy them a stopgap solution for the 2012 rotation. But they’re now holding back, because the payroll is already high enough. Of course, the other contracts are holding them back as well. Rodriguez, Teixeira, Jeter, Rivera, Cano, Sabathia, and Burnett all make more than Soriano. But when they were signed they at least filled areas of need. Soriano did not. The Yankees could have passed on him and had just as much success in 2011. Yet they did sigh him, and now they can’t or won’t make a move because of payroll concerns.

Perhaps at the time the Yankees didn’t plan to significantly stifle payroll starting this off-season. Maybe they thought they could continue to add players as needed, even with Soriano on the payroll. Either way, the Yankees are suffering currently because of this move. The Soriano signing, while not bad at the time, was unnecessary. That unnecessary contract is apparently the difference, right now, between adding a needed player and not.

Guest Post: The Lottery Ticket
Cashman Notes: A-Rod, Andruw, Nakajima
  • Bronx Byte

    Cashman is hamstrung until he’s able to find a taker for Burnett. Having Burnett is the same as having 3 decent tires on a car with a large spike in the fourth tire and no spare tire in the trunk.

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

      Someday, at some time, you’ll find a different player on whom you’ll focus your ire.

    • chris

      Does Rafael Soriano have a no-trade clause in his contract? If not, might be a contract to move for prospects or back end starter.

    • CaptainJeter

      you said a mouthful. Yankees would have to eat half of his salary to dump him to a NL team.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    If you feel that one player that slots in at about what Soriano is making would make all the difference, and believe that the Yankees have set an impermeable line which they won’t cross then, yes, the Soriano contract is a killer.

    I actually disagree. I think the “Soriano as albatross” line of thought is a bit of an exagerration (albeit not on the level of exagerrations such as “Teixiera’s done” or “Swisher is worthless because he did badly over a five-game sample.”) My opinion is that there isn’t an impermeable line and, while the team is certainly thinking before doing a bit more than in off-seasons very fresh in our memory, they may feel that a one-year investment in Kuroda/Oswalt may only be a small improvement over having the in-house crew fight over rotation spots. Is it what I would do as GM? No. Am I going to get hired as a GM anytime soon? I’m not exactly preparing my resume for it.

    • whozat

      But, if you have 12MM more headroom in your budget, all of a sudden you’re only pushing up against your limit by signing Kuroda, instead of blowing past it by more than 10MM. Then that marginal upgrade might be worth it — especially since marginal wins are worth a lot at the Yanks’ point on the win curve.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

        ….and then you’re not sitting there with the choice between Kuroda/Oswalt and making sure Justin Maxwell isn’t your fourth outfielder next year if you plan on going past that budget number you had in mind. I agree with that. I also agree that, if that 1-2 wins the upgrade may bring puts you 1-2 games ahead of the Sox/Rays at the end of the season, you keep that in mind, and headroom does affect how much that matters.

        I also think the decision is made easier when the field is as underwhelming as we’ve seen this off-season.

      • Ted Nelson

        You’re assuming that a limit is the reason for inaction. That’s speculation.

        And the Yankees might think that the long-term harm of blocking their MLB ready AAA arms is greater than the short-term gain in adding another veteran.

        • Plank

          “a team source told me last week that as much as the Yankees like Kuroda (they tried to trade for him last year), “We simply don’t have the money to pay him.” ”

          It’s not speculation. It may be (is) untrue, but it’s what the Yankees are going with.


          • Ted Nelson

            Or the “source” has no clue what they’re talking about

            • Plank

              Is there a reason you don’t believe this other than that it disproves your preconceived notion if true?

              If so, I’d like to hear it.

    • Gonzo

      You might be right. If Kuroda replicates his fWAR from last year in the AL East, he will have 2.5 fWAR. If they believe they can get 1.5 fWAR from the kids(tm), why would they pay roughly $15mm for one fWAR.

      I understand fWAR is not perfect, but the point still stands.

  • duzzi23

    “If he’s not measurably better than Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett” Everyone in MLB was measurably better than A.J. Burnett the last two seasons. Phil Hughes was awful last year from the start to the phantom injury no MRI machine or test known to man could pick up. People even speculated he had a nerve disorder. Oakland having one of the worst American League offenses I’ve seen in years routinely rocked him. I think Kiroda would be a significant upgrade on either pitcher in the rotation. I also think Soriano is grossly overpaid but has a chance to make the Yankees team better with a full healthy season and I consider the Feliciano contract worse considering Soriano will actually pitch.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      John Lackey was not measurably better than AJ Burnett over the last 2 years.

      • Brian S.

        Lackey was a >4 win pitcher in 2010. His 2011 was just as bas yes but he was wayyyyyyyyyy better than Burnett in 2010.

    • Need Pitching

      Healthy Hughes (phantom injury or not, the severe drop in velocity early in the season was an obvious indication something was not right, whether it was injury, dead arm from huge innings increase the previous season, or just Hughes being out of shape) after returning from the DL posted a 4.45 ERA over the rest of the season (despite getting rocked by Oakland twice). That would seem to be a fair baseline for expectation for Hughes for 2012, in which case, considering Kuroda’s age and the transition from NL west to AL east, Hughes may not be a big drop off from Kuroda.

      AJ on the other hand …

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    Thank you, Randy Fucking Levine.

  • Ted Nelson

    To me the most likely reasons besides not seeing value in the signing are:

    1. Something emerged in the latest CBA renewal that got the Yankees thinking they need to operate on a budget. Perhaps the chorus is growing among owners/organizations who want a hard cap at the $150 or $175 million level… but the Yankees feel or have been told they can prevent that eventuality by reigning in their spending voluntarily. Something like Hollywood self-regulating with ratings.

    2. They really like their young guys and don’t want to block them any further than they are already blocked. In theory players on short-term deals are fungible and the young guys should earn their spots by dominating AAA, but in practice Kuroda would give them 6 veteran starters… in 2010 and 2011 the Yankees effectively used 5.5 starters all season. The 6 “veterans” (counting Hughes and Nova as such) are somewhat likely to cover the whole season without even having to turn to Noesi for more than spot duty… let alone Phelps or Warren. Eliminating an opportunity to get one, two, or three of those guys a decent try-out before Banuelos and Betances have had full AAA seasons and are theoretically MLB ready.

    If it’s 1. then the Soriano contract absolutely is a problem. If it’s 2., though, it’s not a problem at all.

    “Either way, the Yankees are suffering currently because of this move.”

    You’re jumping to a conclusion by using HUGE assumptions. You don’t know if the Yankees are unable to add payroll, or want their kids to get a chance.

    • David, Jr.

      Your #2 may be right on. They likely could have had Danks, Gonzalez or Garza if they had been willing to trade Banuelos. They didn’t do that, which indicates that they really like him. Now, it looks like they aren’t going to acquire a veteran who would block him or the other young starters such as Noesi.

      It all tells me that we may see Banuelos sometime this year, and maybe another young starter.

      • Ted Nelson

        Definitely possible if Banuelos takes a nice step forward. Even if he spends the year in AAA, though, they can give Noesi, Phelps, and/or Warren extended try-outs in 2012 before Banuelos and/or Betances hopefully can’t be kept out of the rotation in 2013.

    • Januz

      I happen to agree 100% with the assessment that they like their Minor Leaguers (Don’t forget pitchers such as Bryan Mitchell, Brett Marshall, and a fast riser in Taylor Morton). The big problem when it comes to luxury taxes will not be this year but in 2014. However, some of the big contracts currently on the books such as Swisher, Soriano, Burnett & Rivera will be eliminated, and even Jeter’s contract will be reduced (From $17m to $8m) after the 2013 Season. I feel very positive about the future.

      • Ted Nelson

        Good points. And if 2014 really is a goal, getting the young pitching lined up now will help them reach it. I can see an argument for bringing in depth in front of them and making them earn it in AAA, but I can also see an argument for not over-blocking them.

    • CJ

      To shoot down your #1, don’t you think Selig learned from stern’s NBA, that hand cuffing a new York is bad business? The cap ruined the Knicks for years and NY is the money market for all non NFL leagues. NY Boston Chicago LA and Dallas have to be free to spend and compete, small markets make nice stories but they don’t carry the league financially.

      • Ted Nelson

        The Knicks were completely incompetent under Layden and Isiah… that had little to do with Stern. They spent A TON of money, threw away draft picks, and assembled crap teams (Layden ignoring athleticism and seemingly basketball skill… Isiah worrying more about flash than basketball while sexually harassing EVPs). If the Yankees decide to waste their money on crappy players, that’s not MLB’s fault.

        Selig is not the King of baseball. He serves at the will of the owners. If the majority of owners decide that they want a hard cap… they have a good chance of getting it.

        So, you have not “shot down” that possibility at all. It’s still a possibility. You’ve raised one reason it might not be in baseball’s best interests. You haven’t even done anything to prove it or show it outweighs the counter-argument.

        • CJ

          Wasn’t sterns fault but I doubt they saw the impact of bad contracts, and a cap on a market leader. They contracts were bad, they couldn’t compete for years, It was a prison sentence that had financial league wide effect. So, if ARod and pujols contracts were to keep NY and LA from competing in the future it would not be good for baseball. Once a contract is signed it is a sunk cost for the team.

          • Ted Nelson

            Again… it had little to do with the cap. The Knicks were WAY over the NBA’s SOFT cap… and they were still one of the worst teams in the NBA.

            Do you have evidence it had a league wide impact? The Knicks were still mostly sold out as I recall, and the NBA enjoyed its highest revenue. Surely they might have done better if the Knicks were studs in NYC… but I don’t know that the NBA’s experience would at all dissuade MLB… NBA seemed to do fine with its worst franchise in NYC. MLB already has a punch-line in NYC with the Mets under the current rules. Fiscal responsibility might have actually saved the Mets from themselves.

            Do you understand what a sunk cost is? You’re not supposed to consider sunk costs going forward… and players are tradable so contracts aren’t sunk costs.

            You have to do a lot more than point to their market size to prove MLB owners should care more about winners in NYC and LA than about parity. You might be right, but you haven’t done squat to prove it. NFL stresses parity more than the others, and you yourself say they aren’t as reliant on NYC… they don’t even have a team in LA.

    • John Ya Ya

      If I didn’t know better, I would completely agree with #1. With all the money the Yankees make on the YES network, in addition to all the other revenue, I just don’t see them suddenly worrying about avoiding a luxury tax. The only thing is, I don’t know how the owners would ever get a hard cap past the player’s union.

      • Ted Nelson

        With a hard floor. Keep the total pool the same by forcing low budget teams to spend more. NBA has a floor to go with its cap, not sure about NFL.

    • Need Pitching

      doubt the Yankees are at all worried about #1. The MLBPA would never agree to a hard cap, especially not at levels that low

      • Ted Nelson

        Low? There is one team above $175 million and there are three teams above $150 million (Angels make four). Put a floor at $50-60 million and the PA wouldn’t lose money.

        • Need Pitching

          the big spenders drive the big salaries
          MLBPA will never agree to a hard cap, especially one that would force any teams to cut payroll

          • Ted Nelson

            That’s your opinion. Please don’t jam it down my throat as if it’s a fact.

            Last season there was not one other team above $175 million besides the Yankees. That level would literally only impact them. Teams like the Angels, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, White Sox, Cubs, Marlins (now)… they give out HUGE contracts and do not spend $175 million. Some of them don’t spend $150 million. $150 million is a whole lot of money for a team to spend.

            And a floor will force teams to pay someone…

            The MLBPA should not care if the spending is redistributed among teams, as long as the overall spending level is the same or higher.

            • Need Pitching

              “The MLBPA should not care if the spending is redistributed among teams, as long as the overall spending level is the same or higher.”
              That’s your opinion, and an opinion that directly contradicts the long-held MLBPA stance on a salary cap. The MLBPA would care if salary growth is restrained, which is the effect they believe will happen if top spenders are taken out of the market.
              As for the $175M, by the MLB way of computing payroll, 3 teams were above 175M (Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies) I’m not at all saying that only the top spending teams give out big contracts, I’m saying that taking them out of the market will likely depress growth of the top salaries, which is a key reason why MLBPA has long opposed and will continue to oppose a salary cap. Also, limiting the top teams will mean the teams in the <175M range that you speak of will likely not feel as much need to spend as much to try to keep up with teams like the Yankees, also resulting in restrained salary growth.

              • Ted Nelson

                You are not taking them out of the market, though. That’s a fallacy. They will still spend big.

                Again… I have specifically talked about a system that doesn’t restrain salary growth.

                If the PA got a nice salary floor to force low budget teams into the market I do not think they would object. Obviously they would look for a higher floor than teams would be willing to give and it would have to be negotiated. And they might look for other concessions. Of course the PA is going to talk a big game. That doesn’t mean they’ll get everything they want.

                If you really think it’s more likely that the Yankees suddenly got cheap after all their recent spending than that they were given a message by the rest of the league… Good for you. I disagree.

                • Need Pitching

                  “suddenly cheap” – not so, their payroll if they do nothing else will be just under $200M, and I believe they will likely make a few small deals to push that higher, How is maintaining a payroll in the 200+ range being suddenly cheap … its not, its suddenly the same

                  In past CBA negotiations, the owners have offered a floor to go with the cap, and the union steadfastly refused to consider it. There is no evidence whatsoever that their stance has changed.

                  The union doesn’t believe making a few teams at the bottom spend more will negate the effect on salary growth of having the top teams spend less, thus enabling the mid-high teams to not need to spend as much to keep up.

                  It’s not relevant anyways, as I said, the Yankees have not suddenly gotten cheap. Their existing payroll coupled with the increase in luxury tax rates will keep their payroll outlay almost exactly in line with last years payroll. It’s much more likely that the Yankees have decided to keep their payroll in the 200-210 range (as its consistently been lately, with 213M in 2010 being an outlier) than that they were threatened with (or were afraid of) a policy that has no chance of being implemented.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Not getting the players they want is cheap for the Yankees IMO. Last season they spent on Feliciano as a LOOGY and Soriano… Now they want a #2 SP but won’t spend? I doubt it.

                    Again… Who made you union chief? How you know how an organization you’re not a member of will react in several years to unknown circumstances is beyond me.
                    And even if the union fights it tooth and nail! That has little to do with whether other owners will fit for it and at least penalize the Yankees and other big spenders further.

                    • Need Pitching

                      again … its total payroll, not individual contracts that is the biggest issue. Last season they had the payroll flexibility to add those contracts, this year adding Kuroda would mean extending beyond their normal 200-210M range, and they apparently don’t feel he is can’t miss enough to do that

                      “And even if the union fights it tooth and nail! That has little to do with whether other owners will fit for it and at least penalize the Yankees and other big spenders further.”

                      This is the whole point which you seem to keep missing, the owners can’t institute a cap or further penalties for big spenders without MLBPA approval. I’m not the union chief, but I feel comfortable given their willingness to strike to fight the cap in the past, and continued steadfast refusal to even consider a cap, that they will not approve one anytime soon. Nobody can predict decades in advance, but I seriously doubt the Yankees are choosing not to sign Kuroda now because, the union may finally agree to a cap 10-20 years from now. There is absolutely no logic in that.

          • Plank

            For the record, you’re not jamming your opinion down anyone’s throat. You’re talking like a normal, rational human. Thankfully someone is.

            • Ted Nelson

              Stop. This is ridiculous.

              You maintained that the PA got raped in the last CBA… Now they have power to get what they want? That’s rational?

              And you also maintain that the Yankees are more profitable than ever before… Yet they are showing financial restraint for practically the first time ever just because? Nothing else changed between last offseason and this season? They made more money than ever and suddenly decided to radically shift their entire business strategy just because? That’s rational?

              • Plank

                Are you accusing me of being irrational?

                Funny how you use a personal attack as soon as your assertions about something else are shown to be false. Hmm, where have I seen that before?

                • Ted Nelson

                  What assertions have been proven false?

                  Yes, it is irrational to maintain the PA had no bargaining power in the CBA negotiations then when conveniently say they have all the power when it suits you. It is irrational to talk about the Yankees making record profits when you don’t actually know their profits and then keep insisting they aren’t spending for financial reasons while literally in the same comments saying you don’t believe it.

                  That’s not a personal attack. I did not say you are irrational. I said you points are.

                  • Plank

                    When have I said the PA has no bargaining power?

                    I just read your first line. Please provide a link of where I said that. I’ll give you a hint, I never said that.

                    When have I said they have all the power?

                    Please provide a link of where I said that. I’ll give you a hint, I never said that.

                    It’s not irrational to assume the Yankees are making more money in the new stadium. Please provide reasons it wouldn’t be more profitable for them.

                    I believe they won’t sign Kuroda for financial reasons, I just think those financial reasons have to do with the Steinbrenners’ greed, not a meeting of the Yankees revenues and costs.

                    That’s not a personal attack.

                    You called me a “dick” 4 minutes after writing that. Is that a personal attack?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Look up hyperbole.

                      You went on for days about how the PA got screwed. That necessarily implies a lack of bargaining power.

                      If they think Kuroda is a good value to sign… That implies they think they will make money by signing him. So it seems likely they don’t see him as a good value or have their hands tied. By original point.

                      That B is a personal attack has nothing to do with whether A was.

                    • Plank

                      Keep moving those goalposts.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      What are you talki about? When you know you’re wrong you seem to reort to stuff like that…

                    • Plank

                      Please provide links to where I said the PA got screwed. I said the new players got screwed and I said the owners made out like bandits, but the deal is okay for players currently in the PA.

                      Again please provide links to where I made the claims you are attributing to me. Or was that hyperbole, too?

                      If they think Kuroda is a good value to sign… That implies they think they will make money by signing him. So it seems likely they don’t see him as a good value or have their hands tied. By original point.

                      What? What does this have to do with anything?

                      I think buying land in Sihanoukville is a good idea financially. I could sell everything I own and buy something, I don’t do it because I don’t have the money budgeted for real estate investments in SE Asia.

              • Need Pitching

                How have they ” radically shift their entire business strategy just because?”. Their payroll will end up almost exactly the same as last season. How is keeping payroll at about the same level two years in a row radically shifting their entire business strategy??

                • Ted Nelson

                  Plank is saying that they want Kuroda and can’t spend the money for financial reasons… That would be a radical shift from where I sit. In the past they’ve extended the budget for players they want who fit needs. This is why I think that they either are being artificially held back by peer pressure or don’t really want Kuroda.

                  • Need Pitching

                    What player have they extended the budget for though??? They were willing to extend the budget for a Cliff Lee type star, but who else?? I’ve seen reports they Cash had to ask for more to sign Martin, but that was $4M for a starting catcher, big difference between that and $13M for a 37 yo pitcher who may only be a marginal upgrade.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      They literally spent as much on Feliciano as Martin last season (more really) and as much on Soriano as they would be on Kuroda (again more considering years). If he had to ask about Martin… Wouldn’t those two be exceptions too? (not that Soriano was his exception…)

                    • Need Pitching

                      there’s no way to know that for sure. I’m sure Cashman is given a budget to work with, they come up with a game plan, and anything that alters from that budget/gameplan needs approval. Soriano wasn’t even Cash’s move, so that’s not completely relevant to the discussion. The bigger point is about overall payroll though. The Yankees were able to make all those moves last season and still have an opening day payroll of 207M. Adding Kuroda at est. 13M would force a payroll of at least 212M, which may be beyond what the Yankees are willing to make an exception for on a pitcher that isn’t a sure thing.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I literally said Soriano wasn’t Cash. It’s about overall payroll. He was added. If a 4th late inning reliever is worth upping to 207… How is a #2 starter not worth upping an extra 5? Because they like what they have or feel pressure not to spend… My original point.

                    • Need Pitching

                      what pressure??? there is 0 evidence that they are getting pressured to lower their payroll, and not thinking Kuroda is worth 17M including luxury tax is not an indication that they are happy with what they have. It’s an indication they don’t think Kuroda is a 17M upgrade over what they have

                    • Ted Nelson

                      There is literally pressure applied by the new CBA. You have acknowledged that. Please don’t turn into Plank on me. Stiffer penalties = pressure.

                      What I am saying is that maybe, possibly, could maybe be but we don’t know… It was communicated to the Yankees that this pressure would intensify if they didn’t curtail spending. Or that the Yankees took the pressure that way.

                    • Plank

                      Please don’t turn into Plank on me.

                      How do you know we’re not the same person? No, I’m just kidding, we’re not. Psych. I’m lying. We are the same person. Or not.

                      No, just kidding, we really aren’t the same person. Or are we?

                      The world will never know…

                    • Need Pitching

                      stiffer current penalties = more expense (financial pressure)
                      pressure = Yankees worried about worse penalties/cap

                      That’s how I’m interpreting the two, and by discussing a possible future cap, I’m assuming that’s what you meant by pressure as well

                      My whole point from the beginning is any significant change (read: cap, or even substantially more severe luxury tax penalties) would have to be approved by MLBPA – which they have shown no inclination to do, so there would be no reason for the Yankees to fear that, or even react at all to warnings from Selig/other owners

                      Obviously you’re not going to agree on this no matter how much logic I present, so I’m going to stop trying

                  • Plank

                    Actually, what I was saying that your assertion that people with the viewpoint that the Yankees are not signing players like Kuroda because of financial issues isn’t just speculation as you say. There are actual reasons to believe that (quotes from Yankee sources.)

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Whether it is true or not is… what? Speculation. Say it with me. An anonymous source does not prove it’s what’s going on.

                    • Plank

                      So the source isn’t good enough for you since it doesn’t jibe with what you feel to be the truth? Would you be arguing that the source is lying if it backed up your assertion?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      An anonymous source doesn’t prove anything regardless of what I feel.

                    • Plank

                      So you didn’t believe Deep Throat until a few years ago when he revealed his identity?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      That is an awful comparison. Deep throat led to tangible evidence. What you have is a source with no tangible evidence. And this is sports rumors…

                      Do y believe every headline you see checking out of the grocery store?

                    • Plank

                      You think ESPN publishes pop fiction?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I don’t think it… I know it. Do you read their stuff? It’s largely rumors and incoherent rumblings from retired GMs/coaches/players.

                    • Plank

                      Wallace Matthews used to write for the Post. Are they also not reliable? Did he magically transform when he went to work for another company?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Are you saying the Post is reliable?

                    • Plank

                      I wouldn’t have a reason not to believe a quote in their sports section.

    • Plank

      You don’t know if the Yankees are unable to add payroll, or want their kids to get a chance.


      “a team source told me last week that as much as the Yankees like Kuroda (they tried to trade for him last year), “We simply don’t have the money to pay him.” ”

      I don’t believe it, but it’s the Yankees company line.

      • Ted Nelson

        One an anonymous source does not make it the company line.

        • Plank

          I just provided a source showing quite clearly (a quote from a Yankees source from a major publication) that the reason they are going cheap is money related, not prospect related. If you have facts to back up your statement, please provide them.

          • Ted Nelson

            You provided an anonymous source. If you have facts feel free to provide them. One un-named source could be a secretary or intern as easily as a credible source.

            • Plank

              Do you think it’s from a secretary or an intern? Do you think the editor at ESPN would allow that?

              • Ted Nelson

                Yes. What % of rumors turn out to be true? ESPN is not some bastion of journalistic integrity.

            • Ted Nelson

              You also literally say you don’t believe it… You think it’s u true, yet your parading it around just to be a dick and disagree with me. If it’s untrue it absolutely doesn’t disprove either of my theories.

              • Plank

                “yet your parading it around just to be a dick and disagree with me.”

                Wow, more personal attacks. I said it because it’s relevant to the discussion. You were factually inaccurate about something, I provided a relevant source (because I know you like that) and now you are saying the source isn’t good enough.

                I don’t exist just to piss you off. I was just providing a link to further the discussion. Most people in your position would be happy they learned something new.

                When I say I don’t believe they don’t have the money, I mean I believe the Steinbrenners decided to pocket a bunch more money, but I believe they don’t have the money in the new budget they set up.

                • Ted Nelson

                  You have said that you think I am not factually inaccurate. You said you think it is not true. Therefore, either of my theories could be the real reason. Hence, you are just parading some link around to disagree… When you actually agree at least that my theories are possible.

                  I saw that article. I learned nothing new.

                  The year after oking the signing of Soriano they decided to “pocket more money” by purposefully hurting rid chances to win? Even when winning drives revenue? When they might actually be costing themselves money? If they think Kuroda is worth the investment they necessarily don’t think they’re saving money. Ergo… They don’t think he’s worth In part because they like what they have or they have greater incentive not to send than we no due to artificial restraints.

                  The new CBA literally adds new incentives for the Yankees to spend less… Yet you and Need Pitching think it’s a fact the Yankees are under no pressure to have to spend less through artificial penalties… Interesting. Might not be a hard cap, but a more repressive soft cap. My point was incentive to spend less. The exact nature of the cap is semantics

                  • Plank
                  • Need Pitching

                    wtf are you talking about??? I mentioned that the luxury tax rate went up. My argument was with you making up a scenario where they were restraining spending because they were threatened with a hard cap if they did not – ” but the Yankees feel or have been told they can prevent that eventuality by reigning in their spending voluntarily”

                    There is absolutely 0 evidence to support this theory. Does the new CBA make spending more expensive for the Yankees? Absolutely. I never argued that. I argued against your imagined threats regarding a hard cap.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I did not make up anything. I proposed it as a possibility.

                      The hard cap is definitely a threat no matter how realistic short-term implementation is. I did not make that up. If the Yankees are not diplomatic win other owners there will be consequences. If you don’t think a hard cap is one possible consequence, good for you. That I think it is doesn’t mean I made it up. Hard caps are a real thing bud. We can disagree on how much of a threat one is… But the threat does exist.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      And wtf I’m talking abo is that there is pressure for the Yankees to reign in spending enforced in the new CBA. A harder cap is certainly one possible outcome if the Yankees ignore this pressure by upping their spending.

                    • Need Pitching

                      1) it’s nowhere near a credible threat right now

                      2) if they were worried about that, the new CBA wouldn’t change anything. that imagined threat would have existed just as much over the past 15-20 years

                      3) there is no evidence that they are operating significantly differently than they have in the last several years. Their payroll is going to end up in the 200-210M range that it has only ever exceeded once

                    • Need Pitching

                      re wtf: Your words “Need Pitching think it’s a fact the Yankees are under no pressure to have to spend less through artificial penalties”

                      I never said that. Clearly the luxury tax impacts how much they are willing to spend to at least some degree. I said their is no evidence they are reacting to some imagined threat of a hard cap. They are reacting to the CBA as it exists, not some mythical threat of a salary cap.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      We disagree.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      And my point was never just about a hard cap. It was about pressure from other teams. One eventual manifestation of which might be a hard cap.

                    • Need Pitching

                      and there is still no indication whatsoever that they are responding in any way, shape, or form to any “pressure” from other teams

                      Do you really think the Yankees believe the other owners are going to rally against them and risk a work stoppage trying to get a cap or significantly stiffer penalties in the next CBA if they sign Kuroda to a contract?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Yes there is an indication they are reacting to pressure. The 189 plan.

                      My theory is not fact. It’s a possibility. Not sure why you keep insisting it can’t be possible. It is possible.

                      You are straw meaning me. I think there’s a chance at they feel the need to lower payroll to keep the penalties from increasing… yet again. The trend has been towards increased penalties… Even if you choose to ignore it. Goodnight. We disagree.

                    • Plank

                      Can you define strawman? You keep mis-using it.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Stop harassing me douche.

                      You are wrong. I am rit. As usual.


                    • Need Pitching

                      How is the 189 plan an indication they are in any way reacting to pressure. It’s an indication they would like to save a whole bunch of money if possible. You saying something is an indication of something doesn’t make it so. I’m saying your theory is not possible because it completely defies logic and is not supported by any available evidence. Is it still technically possible?? Sure, and its technically possible Mariano Rivera is not human as well.

                    • Plank

                      Why is your typing getting so bad? You’re like the lawyer at the end of Inherit the Wind when he’s on trial and bursting apart at the seams.

                      I’m really not harrassing you. You are steadfastly sticking to an opinion and refusing to accept it may be wrong. There is a quote from someone with the Yankees saying something indicating you are wrong and you are lashing out at anything and everything in an attempt to (poorly) defend your already constructed house of cards.

                    • Plank

                      Saying the 189 plan is reacting to pressure is like saying a savings account is pressure not to buy stuff.

                      The new CBA has incentives to keeping payroll low. The Yankees say they are going for it. It’s not pressure, it’s the opposite of pressure. It’s encouragement.

                    • Plank

                      And how did Need Pitching straw man you?

            • Plank

              You provided an anonymous source.

              The source I provided is a writer for ESPN, the biggest sports journalism site in the world.

              • Ted Nelson

                So what?

                • Plank

                  I’m refuting when you said

                  You provided an anonymous source.

                  That’s an untrue statement. That’s “what”.

                  My source isn’t anonymous. My source is Wallace Matthews.

                  • Plank
                  • Ted Nelson

                    Wallace Matthews is the source inside the Yankees org with knowledge of how they work? Great! A guy who doesn’t work for the team. You fucking idiot.

                    • Plank

                      If you are writing an academic paper on the Watergate scandal and you use an article by Woodward and Bernstein where they relay what Deep Throat said, would you list the source you used as Bob Woodward or Deep Throat?

                      Again, you get clearly refuted and slip into vicious attacks. It’s the Ted Nelson standard.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      You are not rioting an academic paper genius. You are rellying on the word of an anonymous source as relayed by a blogger to give you information you havn’t the faintest clue about. This is Kim Kardashian, not an academic paper.

                    • Plank

                      You are not rioting an academic paper genius

                      I agree. Mostly because I have no idea what those words mean in that sequence.

                      You are rellying on the word of an anonymous source as relayed by a blogger to give you information you havn’t the faintest clue about.

                      Nice spelling. Again, Matthews was a writer for the Post. If he still was, would that make the story more credible? When did he make a transition to a blogger? Journalists protect their sources. Sources can remain anonymous and be telling the truth, they usually do remain anonymous when they are talking about their company’s finances.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      This is exactly why I can’t stand you. A couple of erroneous autocorrects on typos and you focus on that rather than the issue. Because you can’t actually argue the issues.

                      Not every anonymous source in every sports page is reliable. Get over it.

                    • Plank

                      I just know a post that starts with “This is exactly why I can’t stand you.” is going to be a good one.

                      You are not rioting an academic paper genius

                      I swear I have no idea that that means.

                      Not every anonymous source in every sports page is reliable.

                      I’m not talking about every anonymous source in every sports page. Do you think this source is reliable?

                      (That’s a rhetorical question. Everyone realizes you don’t believe it because it flies in the face of your pet theory. No need to explain further unless you have something relevant to add.)

  • bpdelia

    I have no ill will towards burnett, he seems like a nice enough guy. But he is right. The burnett contract is a sunk cost and he costs the Yankees over 20 million a year after luxury taxes are taken into account. So it would be in the teams best interest to pay burnett 9 million a year to NOT pitch for them. It is entirely possible that some combination of noesi, Warren,Mitchell,Phelps, and alter bettances and banuelos could provide 180ip of the same quality burnett has for the past 2 seasons. The money is gone, the players in the system can very possibly, likely even, produce similar results. Why not eat whatever is needed to get a deal done and move on. 60 plus starts is easily enough of a sample to conclude that burnett isn’t getting better. You really cant argue about the hr/fb rate eaither. The xfip still stunk and its possible that hr/fb is the new normal for a guy who cant throw strikes and has rapidly diminishing stuff

  • dalelama

    Given his propensity to slack off A-choke’s contract extention could be the worst team deal in history. For $26M per year I wish we were getting more than a pair of purple lips.

    • Steve (different one)

      I get not liking A-Rod, but how does he “slack off”?

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

      Say what you want about his decline, but the absolute last thing A-Rod does is “slack off.”

    • MannyGeee

      unless ‘slack off’ is some sort of crazy new terminology for keeps getting hurt due to age and wear & tear on his body due to playing over 2400 games over 18 seasons’, i think you might be a little off on your assessment.

      • Bronx Bombed

        I think “a little” is being a lot generous.

        • Rainbow Connection

          This guy understands language.

  • CJ

    Soriano signing seems unnecessary-wasteful due to the extraordinary success of David Robertson. Robertson’s breakout was beyond best case scenario expectation. It seems unfair to now say look we didn’t need Soriano we had Robertson.

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

      Robertson was very good in 2009 and 2010.

      • Brian S.

        And we had Joba who nobody thought would need Tommy John surgery.

      • CJ

        Not good enough to expect 2011

        • Need Pitching

          No, but certainly good enough to expect to have very solid setup guys with Joba and Robertson (and Feliciano was still in the mix at the time as well)

  • Pasqua

    The Yanks find themselves in a bind in part because the free agency market is incredibly cost-prohibitive (talent vs. dollars) and the trade market is exceptionally seller-friendly in terms of what is being demanded in return for established talent. If this payroll plateau is the real deal, the Yanks are stuck between a rock and the proverbial hard place when it comes to improving the team.

    /Capt. Obvious’d

    • chris

      It seems to me the yankees strategy in recent years is to get younger and or cheaper at one or two positions a year (Granderson,Martin, etc.) so they don’t have to make wholesale changes every year. They can strategically replace players coming off the books with a player they really like instead of stop-gap expensive veterans.

  • Darren

    I just don’t think the Yanks/Cashman are excited about anyone out there. I’m a little surprised at them not taking a flyer on Oswalt, but i can see why they feel like his injury risk isnt worth the $15 mm.

  • Rich in NJ

    It seems to me that the Yankees are acting at cross-purposes. They claim to want to win the WS every single year, according to Hal (which can be a counterproductive goal). To further that end they overpaid for marginal or (soon to be) declining talent in the recent past. They also apparently want to reduce their payroll, perhaps by 2014.

    Yet if they they still want to be in a position to win the WS every single year, it appears that they are unwilling to take the necessary steps to achieve that goal (i.e., signing one-year contracts as stopgaps to upgrade the roster to compensate for the under performances of the marginal or declining players they overpaid).

    OTOH, maybe it’s all a misdirection and they will spend big bucks on talent that they believe is truly high-end.

    In any event, it likely means that the development of homegrown talent will be prioritized to a greater degree, which is fine with me.

  • CJ

    This austerity budget will NEVER happen. It will be impossible to keep a playoff team at that payroll with ARod Tex CC and Cano

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

      Impossible to keep a playoff team at $189M? A-Rod, Tex, CC, and Cano will make about $95M in 2014. That’s $94M for the other 21 roster spots. They’ll be fine. They’re cutting the payroll by 5-6%, not 50%.

      • CJ

        I’m not saying they won’t be fine, I’m saying they will not stick to the budget.

        • Ted Nelson

          You said “It will be impossible to keep a playoff team at that payroll with ARod Tex CC and Cano”… That’s saying that they won’t be fine as far as I can tell.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    There is no doubt in my mind that the slimming of the budget goes. I can sympathize with the owners because if I had a business and had to give money to my competitors who just as soon see me sink or fade away, and who will not raise a hand to help me, then I should be pretty angry. Thus, I do not see our team signing any high priced free agents in 2012 or 2013. We will go with the youngsters sink or swim. I consider this good business. I realize that many fans will not agree with my opinion, but that’s how I see it.

  • Women’s Lib is Ms.Guided

    What if they made Soriano a starter?

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

      I doubt he could hold up for 150+ IP.

  • Carl Spackler, assistant greenskeeper

    Actually, I think you have to go back to Ted’s first point.
    When the season ended and all the speculation started (main steam media and blogs/MLBTR), it seemed like the Yankees were going to be very active, and then as the CBA was put fourth, all the stories from Yankeeland became about being budget conscious.
    That makes me suspicious that Selig didn’t threaten a hard cap and the Steinbrenners and Cash may be trying to avoid that, so that if a once in life opportunity (CC, Cain, etc) come available, they can pounce.
    So we may have to get used to watching average to good talent go elsewhere….

    • CS Yankee

      I agree with this.

      I would also offer that getting a Kuroda or Oswalt would actually equate to a cost in excess of 20M$ and is a risk of having something better in-house.

      Kuroda…12M$, plus 5M$ (tax), plus commited costs of who he replaces (3M$ on Hughes, 5M$ on Freddy & over 16M$ on AJ), and Oswalt would likely have a higher costs.

      Also, Freddy doesn’t resign without the promise of being a 4/5 starter coming out of camp. You can’t just kick him to the curb.

      Stick with the kids and the next Ubaldo deal will be available anyways come late-June or one of the kids will move up to the bigs.

  • Ppiddy

    Looks like the Yankees don’t want to WIN TODAY like they used to. Understandable that they don’t want to pay any more LT but … cmon. They make tons of revenue.

    Red Sux just got Bailey. And aren’t done. Angels and Rangers are probably both stronger. Yankees need to shore up their weaknesses now or they will continue to have problems making it through the postseason.

    And irreplaceable fixtures like Mariano/Jeter aren’t getting any younger.

    The time is now.

    • Adam

      Yes, with the highest pay roll in baseball they really don’t want to win today.

      Is this the earliest that the sky has started to fall around here?

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

      I wouldn’t call Jeter and Mariano “irreplaceable.”

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      Red Sox acquired Bailey because, wait for it, their closer signed with another team. This is a problem the Yankees don’t have. They also have up Josh Reddick to do it, who is a nice young player.

      It’s almost as if we start off with doom, then try to find situations that fit the feeling.

      They’d all have been wearing Mets hats in ’86.

  • Matt DiBari

    Imagine if Mussina hadn’t retired and made a run at 300. Signing him probably would have ruled out Burnett.

  • Matt DiBari

    I think that was the idea when we traded for Wilson Betemit. “We got the new David Ortiz” after all.

    Of course, Wilson quickly became one of my least favorite Yankees of the last ten years, but the thought was there.

  • toad

    If they trade a player, Soriano, say, and agree to pick up a big chunk of his salary, is the part that they pay still subject to the luxury tax?

    • Need Pitching


      • toad

        Thanks. So much for that idea.

  • Dick Winters

    What MLB needs is an amnesty clause like the NBA recently instituted. The Knicks said BEGONE Chauncey Billups and poof, he was an LA Clipper. We could say BEGONE AJ Burnett and poof, he’s a Florida Marlin. Hank should argue for the amnesty clause in the next CBO discussions.

  • bankers hours

    The Yanks are getting cheap and it will cost them. They have too much committed to Arod Jeter Burnett Tex Soriano and get below avg performance vs their salaries. Those five take half the budget and underperform vs their salary but if the Yankees whine about it and do nothing they’ll get left at the alter. Jeter pushed the Yanks to a ridiculous 17m salary for a 37 yr old ss whose true value was maybe 2/12m. It wasn’t about money then, why now when we need pitching to compete. Was it more important to placate Jeter and penalize future winning or should the Yanks forget about the sins of the past and spend wisely now. I say spend, we’re the Yankees for Christ’s sake not the KC Royals.

    • gc

      They have a $200M payroll for the 2012 season. Easily the highest in baseball. GET OFF THE FUCKING LEDGE AND GET A GRIP.

    • Rookie

      I agree with you completely about Jeter.

      But I think there’s a certain amount of justice/payback coming to Jeter for insisting on being paid far more than he was worth. Some fans will hold him to a higher standard of performance and his team will have $10 million or so less available to spend — meaning he’s less likely to spend his last year or two playing on a World Series champion and likely to be booed more often in his twilight years (deservedly so, in my opinion, for the tactics he used negotiating his final contract).

      It’s too bad that Yankee fans will have to suffer along with him for the ownership’s stupidity in folding like a cheap suit to Jeter and Arod. Both moves were obviously stupid then and now.

      • CS Yankee

        Get real…if you had half his talent you would want to be paid accordingly.

        He batted close to .350 after the injury and creates revenue up the wazoo. Yes, he will likely be worth half his value come the last year…oh, wait for it…it is less than half his current pay.

        Arod and Albert and Wells and several dozen more are stupid contracts. The Jeter one is dumb, but not in the stupid range.

  • dan gen

    they are going to lose with this team,time to …..jump!

    • Hall and Nokes

      I wouldn’t rule out contraction.

  • RetroRob

    The A-Rod contract is the one that will hurt the most, although it annoys me less than Soriano. First, it was a Steinbrenner — Hank Steinbrenner — who pushed to make it happen. Okay, their team, their decision, their money. While the outer years of the contract concerned me, A-Rod had always been very healthy and was one of the all-time elites. A near-catastrophic hip injury was not something to expect in year one of the contract. It was a risk, but not likely, especially so early on. We should be greatful for medical advances, because the surgery done on A-Rod wasn’t even available a couple years earlier. Last, the Yankees weren’t really concerned about their salary structure when the deal was signed after 2007.

    Soriano, however, seems to have been pushed by Levine and it was within a year when they knew significant changes were coming to the CBA. Losing out on Lee, and then Pettitte’s retirement, should have only highlighted the need to save salary room for a starting pitcher.

    I still believe Soriano will opt out after 2012. While he may not replicate his 2013 single-season salary, he will be interested in securing a new three-year deal that will be worth far more than 2013’s salary, and with his injury history, he’ll recognize (and more so Boras will recognize) the value of a new contract. I’m hoping that’s an incentive to put up a great year in 2012.

  • Jay Dee

    The deals are done. Putting aside the injury (which could not be forecast), the soriano signing was a fine strategy. While Joe is correct, the various signings mentioned “filled a need”, the Soriano signing is similar to the best available player in drafting. The Yankees had the ability to substantially upgrade a bullpen and did it.

    With the new CBA, the taxes will be different an adjustments made as it will be more expensive to go over the tax. Who also knows what new financial projections are in the yankees possession? Too much speculation involved to point to any particular deal and say this is why the Yankees haven’t signed a starter this year.

    I’m happy with our team as it is presently constituted with a few ancillary parts added. It will be nice to see our home-grown talent (past and future) given room this year to succeed and grow.

  • PBFog

    Really enjoyed this well-thought out article that was free of fwar and all other statistics. Not that there’s anything wrong with statistics in articles on this blog, but thought without so many numbers was pleasing.

  • http://http Josh

    Whereas I agree with you about the Soriano signing, I disagree about the Burnett signing – even at the time, if you looked at his past performance, he had the potential to be worth what they paid him, but there were far too many seasons where he did not pitch well. He seemed to simply have a good contract year that caused the Yankees to overspend on him (like the Mets did with Beltran).

  • Bill

    Honestly this team probably isn’t good enough to win this year unless they trade the farm for a top of the rotation starter (which won’t happen). So while I’d like to sign someone like Kuroda who is a nice stopgap option and gives the Yankees a better opportunity for success in 2012 either way I’m not really expecting a championship this year. If anything I’m hoping the Yankees can develop some young talent and position themselves nicely to free up some salary for one of the big time pitchers that hopefully will be available next offseason. I haven’t given up hope on 2012, but it would take a good deal of good fortune for the Yankees to be in position to win the world series.

  • Joltin’ Joe

    Didn’t the Yankees sign Soriano with the intent of moving him into the closer role after Rivera retired ??? . . . if so, which I think they did, the premise of this blog post is totally off-base . . .

  • Sailor Sam

    I think we should just throw mo money. Soriano just needs mo money.

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