Lessons from the Lin saga

Scouting The Trade Market: Nate Schierholtz
Yanks send Darnell McDonald to Triple-A, release Nelson Figueroa
Reuters Pictures

As a New York native, I was disappointed to hear that the Knicks declined to match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet, allowing him to sign with the Houston Rockets.  Watching Lin’s emergence out of obscurity to become an impact player (and the phenomenon that was Linsanity) was one of the more exciting things to happen to the Knicks in recent memory for this tepid NBA fan.  I figured it was a no-brainer that he would be re-signed by the Knicks, especially after the arbitrator ruled that Lin (and Steve Novak) would be granted “Bird Rights” that would allow the Knicks to pay them more than what their cap situation should allow.  On top of all the promise Lin showed on the court, his off-court financial impact seemed like sufficient incentive to keep him.  Maintaining fan enthusiasm would seem to be an important priority with the Nets moving to Brooklyn this year, and looking like a possible contender.

The main justification for the decision seems to be the third year in Lin’s contract, which would pay him about $15 million and cost the Knicks a lot of money in luxury tax.  There are certainly a number of angles to this story, such as whether the decision to let Lin go was a financial move, a basketball move, or the result of petty machinations of a petulant owner.  I won’t claim to know enough about the Knicks or the NBA to single out one of these as the decisive cause, but you can consult Moshe if you want a more informed (and impassioned) take.

While there are certainly major differences here, the Lin decision brings to mind some tough choices that the Yankees may have to make in the near future if they are serious about getting their payroll below $189 million in 2014.  The impending free agencies of Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Derek Jeter are interesting parallels.  As has been discussed extensively on this blog and elsewhere, if the Yankees are able to get their 2014 payroll below $189 million, they will be able to save a ton of money.  They will do this by resetting their luxury tax rate and having a portion of their revenue sharing payments refunded, the latter of which is particularly compelling because that money subsidizes their small-market competition.

Assuming Cano and Granderson continue their high level of play, they will demand and likely receive lucrative multi-year contracts.  While the Yankees have the financial resources to outbid all comers if they really want to retain both, the looming specter of the $189 million salary ceiling may cause them to exercise some restraint.  In Lin’s case, the $15 or so million that represented his salary was only a portion of the total outlay, due to the luxury tax that the Knicks would pay, increasing his cost to the team.  Similarly, if the Yankees give out big contracts to both Granderson and Cano, and are unable to stay under $189 million, they will face additional costs.  Not only would they pay a substantial luxury tax penalty (by percentage), but they would also lose the major savings gained by resetting the luxury tax and reducing their revenue sharing obligations.  From this viewpoint, it is possible to want to retain Lin, Granderson or Cano from an on-field perspective, but recognize that the financial costs in excess of their contracts might be too high.

The Jeter case is also an interesting one with some parallels to Lin.  Jeter has an $8 million player option for 2014, but if he continues to play at his current level (2-3 WAR annually), I could see him turning down the option and looking for a multi-year deal.  He wouldn’t have a ton of leverage at age 39, but if he is planning on chasing additional milestones (such as the all-time hits record), he would need to stick around into his early 40’s to have a shot.  While it may not be smart from a baseball perspective to resign Jeter to a multi-year deal at that age, there will be significant fan and media pressure to do so.  As with Lin, signing Jeter to a bigger salary for 2014 would have luxury tax implications, and force the Yankees to make a difficult choice about a franchise icon.

For years, the Knicks have had one of the highest payrolls in the NBA, and I figured that all the hype surrounding Lin would make it a no-brainer for publicity-loving owner James Dolan to bring him back.  But if we believe that the Lin non-signing was primarily the result of financial motives, then it is an acknowledgement that even the big-spending Knicks have their limits.  Over the next few years, we will find out if the deep-pocketed Yankees have limits of their own.  While they have been outbid on a few big free agents in recent years (most notably, Cliff Lee), there are very few cases of the Yankees not being able to re-sign their own marquee players during the Steinbrenner era.  They may still be able to retain Cano, Jeter, and Granderson without crossing the $189 million threshold, but it will certainly be difficult, and could require some cost cutting at other positions (right field, 5th starter, etc.).

Obviously, there are important distinctions between the Knicks’ and the Yankees’ situations.  The harder salary cap in the NBA limits the Knicks’ flexibility in a way that a simple luxury tax (unless it were incredibly punitive) could not do to the Yankees, unless the Yankees choose to restrict their spending.   There is a lot more uncertainty regarding Lin’s future performance than there would be for Cano or Granderson, even accounting for the fact that the Yankee duo will be on the wrong side of 30 for the entirety of their next contract.  While Cano and Granderson are both great players, they do not have the singular ability to generate fan and media buzz that Lin demonstrated last year.  Jeter may have similar uncertainty about his future performance, and like Lin, his status as a franchise icon would make his departure a PR disaster.  However, the financial commitment to Jeter is not likely to be as significant even if he declines the option.

It will be interesting to track the Yankees’ payroll situation over the next few seasons, to see if the $189 million limit restricts them in any way from their perennial pursuit of top free agents such as Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke.  It will also be a test of the Yankees’ willingness to virtually always retain important contributors, even if this requires them to pay market value or higher.  Something may have to give at some point.  While I don’t expect the kind of backlash that James Dolan is facing after letting Lin walk, the response from fans and the media could be very critical of the Steinbrenner regime if they let an important player sign elsewhere for financial reasons.  While this may not be the Yankee way, it may be a new reality that Yankee fans will have to deal with.

Scouting The Trade Market: Nate Schierholtz
Yanks send Darnell McDonald to Triple-A, release Nelson Figueroa
  • YankeesJunkie

    The Yankees have seem willing to pay the luxury tax, but now that their are picks and more costly penalties for exceeding the payroll I don’t see the Yankees regularly or ever leverage the future for one season. However, it seems like the Yankees will always be in that 189 range considering the amount of money that the rake allows for a payroll with luxury tax of close to 250 million dollars.

    Also the Yankees did not get outbid for Lee he chose the Phillies lesser offer total offer which worked out well for him :)

  • Robinson Tilapia

    You’re a great writer, Eric, but I’m not seeing this at all.

    Jeremy Lin was a t-shirt phenomenom last year. He had about two good weeks as a player and, even within that period, he was absolutely taken to the woodshed by actual real star players like Dwayne Wade and Deron Williams. Of course, since this is the New York Knicks we’re talking about, Lin was paraded around New York City like he was Derek Jeter. It was embarrassing, as a New Yorker, to witness, as was the fact that every possible Asian stereotype was attached to him in the process.

    If the Houston Rockets, based on that, want to pay Lin money he doesn’t deserve, the Knicks actually made the prudent move in not matching that offer. The lesson learned here is that you allow someone else to overvalue your players and not do it yourself. If someone wants to give Jayson Werth money to Nick Swisher in the offseason, let the other team do it. Don’t be the team paying Melky Cabrera superstar money in the off-season.

    I don’t see the relationship to the Yankees’ situation. The Yankees will face hard choices on actual star players, not on players who had a handful of good games and were offered contracts as if they were superstars.

    • CUYanks

      Exactly, many people who were clamoring for the Knicks to resign Lin at that ridiculous price probably couldn’t even recall that he missed a ton of time due to injury and didn’t do much other than his one run of turnover-prone dominance. I think Tebow is a much better analogy here, and as you can see the Broncos had zero problem letting that one go.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        I think Tebow is a much better analogy here, and as you can see the Broncos had zero problem letting that one go.

        Exactly my thoughts on this.

    • CUYanks

      Exactly, many people who were clamoring for the Knicks to resign Lin at that ridiculous price probably couldn’t even recall that he missed a ton of time due to injury and didn’t do much other than his one run of turnover-prone dominance. I think Tebow is a much better analogy here, and as you can see the Broncos had zero problem letting that one go.

    • Carl G

      Well to be fair, Lin owned deron williams the first time he saw him, so they’re kind of 1-1 at the moment.

      Also, we don’t know if Lin declined because of injury, or because Melo came back. I’m not saying that he’d be as good as he was for the long-term, but Melo definitely ruins a lot of players’ game…

      • Robinson Tilapia

        We know Carmelo (who, by the way, Knick fans wouldn’t shut up about acquiring when it happened and now want to throw underneath the nearest bridge) can make a PG’s life difficult, but Lin’s game would be based on more than what shots Anthony was/wasn’t giving up. At the end of the day, the better player in that lineup was going to be Carmelo Anthony anyway.

        That’s also the coach’s job to figure out.

    • Thomas

      I was originally against resigning Lin (no way does he deserve $15 million), but I am not sure anymore, because of the new CBA.

      It sounds like the Knicks could have matched the Rockets offer and after year two, if Lin sucked they could waive him and spread the final year of the deal over three years. They Knicks still would have to pay him everything, but the luxury tax ramifications are much less and the Knicks have no 2014-2015 on the books.

      It would still be a risky move, but Lin proved he could play at least as a suitable backup (who often make $5 million in the NBA) and the merchandising rights would likely cover the deal. The possible reward is certainly high and the risk is somewhat mitigated.

      • Florida – Ralph

        Correct!! The stretch provision that could have spread out the $15 million from the final year is not getting talked about enough.

    • rek4gehrig

      Couldnt have said it better myself

    • Ethan

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m not a knicks fan, or really a basketball fan at all but the whole Lin stuff was way overblown. His first week was amazing and his second was as well. Then he fell off a bit of a cliff. His PPG was around 15, nothing truly spectacular. He isn’t a superstar and should not get paid that money. I think the knicks actually made the right call here.

      Also, there was a poll on ESPN (i know, ESPN readers aren’t exactly the smartest) where people voted for the most loved player in NYC. Lin won! How stupid is that, the dude played 35 games and didn’t really put up that spectacular of numbers. The poll must have been taken over by non-New Yorkers and likely many Chinese voters.

      • Confounded

        I seriously doubt that Chinese people were flocking to ESPN. Last I checked the website is not in Chinese and the vote was a part of ESPNNewYork, a niche within the overall site. Why don’t you break down Felton and Jason Kidd and tell me how spectacular they are. And if you start lecturing me about the luxury tax hit, please give me proof that you at least work for Cablevision if not directly for the Knicks. How does it affect your budget? When was the last time you got riled up about how much the cook down the street makes. None of your bizness…

        • Ethan

          Well they definitely flocked to mlb.com to vote in darvish for the all star game even though that’s not in “Chinese” which is actually called Mandarin. And there are actually quite a lot of people in China that can understand some english (obviously when you have a population of well over a billion).

          I’m not saying Felton or Kidd deserve their money either as they don’t. But that shouldn’t be your reasoning to pay another person that kind of money. If person x is making so much money but everyone thinks they’re overpaid should person y who is probably similar in talent make the same money?

          Seriously, give me a good argument for knicks to pay lin that kind of money.

    • CP

      In his 26 games where he started getting significant playing time (he came off the bench early in on game, then started the next 25), he averaged 18.5 pts/game and 7.7 assists per game. Those would be top 25 and top 10 in the league, respectively, if extrapolated over a full season. That’s much more than a “t-shirt phenomenom”. That’s legitimate production. What makes Lin’s situation unique is that he didn’t get any playing time until his third year in the league, so there isn’t a large sample size to judge him on. Either way, you’re guessing what he might be.

      As for the Knicks specifically, I don’t get the argument that he’d cost too much. With Chandler and Stoudemire both being 33 and getting paid over $35M between them that season, it seems like a funny time to start pinching pennies on a player that will be 27 and just entering his prime. If he performs at the level he showed last year (or improves), he’d be an asset to the team on the court and they could look to move Chandler or Stoudemire to get some quality players to go with Melo and Lin. If he struggles, then he can just legally change his name to “The Expiring Contract of Jeremy Lin”.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        26 games, where his turnover numbers were not good and better players were putting him in his place, was worthy of taking over every Modells for that period? It was beyond overkill.

        You’re guessing what he might be. Correct. That’s why saying “thanks, but no thanks” to matching that contract was acceptable. That didn’t seem like guessing money to me. You also just paid for what’s left of Jason Kidd as well.

        Please keep in mind, when discussing the Knicks with me, that I pretty much equate them with the Boston Red Sox.

    • deadrody

      Absolute nonsense. He was a rookie, playing half his games with a subpar lineup and put up numbers that would place him 4th in the league for point guards. At age 23.

      An absolutely moronic decision. Three years from now, paying Jeremy Lin $15 million would be one of the best contracts on the team.

  • CUYanks

    I think the main motivation was that Jeremy Lin was performing over his head, was already suffering physically due to playing even a full month (as he never did before), and even during his prime run he was extremely inefficient as a PG. A PG performing the way he did with all those glaring turnovers to me is analogous to a player with a high BABIP who strikes out way too much but lucks into a decent average. Regression was coming, and unfortunately he may just not be a very good player.

    We will see how this plays out, but the Knicks always get blasted for making terrible personnel moves (and rightly so). In this case, if they resigned Lin and he turned back into a pumpkin (which he was already doing) by the 2nd month of the season, this would be tacked onto the list of stupid roster moves made by the Knicks in past years. In this case, I think the Knicks finally made a decision with their heads instead of their hearts.

    • SDM

      My question is how do you know he was performing over his head? He was never given an actual shot to play before last year, and before that he was very good in the d-league after he was drafted, and was a pretty good college player.

      Also the drop in points coincides directly with Melo’s return, that is something that everyone pretty much expected to happen because Melo is going to want and deservedly will get the ball. Melo is one of the best players on the planet everyone else’s scoring will go down because he is going to take those shots himself rather than someone else.

      I think the Knicks made a mistake, not because they didn’t resign Lin at 25 million for 3 years, but because they let Lin’s price get as expensive as it did. They could have possibly pulled a TampaBay Rays and offered him a contract that would lock him up for cheap for several years and chances are better than good that he would have signed.

      • deadrody

        That’s the question none of Lin’s detractors can answer.

        The Knicks never really had a chance to sign him. They encouraged him to find out the market for his talent. The mistake they made was opening their big fat mouths that matching Houston’s initial offer was a no-brainer. Great. Tell the world, OMG, too much!!! And then match that deal. Instead they blabbed all over the world they would match up to a billion and the Rockets upped their offer.

        The Knicks front office is BY FAR the worst in all of pro sports.

    • Confounded

      Well, we’ll all see if the Knicks can get to the promise land with Melo, broken STAT and a bunch of 39 year olds…if your going for a championship don’t you sign whoever at whatever price?

  • Carl G

    Don’t forget that Jeter’s $8M is a minimum; he can increase that a few million, can’t he? I read that on RAB actually, so someone here knows better than I do.

    • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too)

      It can increase up to 17M based on finishing top 6 in MVP voting, winning Silver Sluggers or Gold Gloves, or winning ALCS or WS MVPs.

      • Carl G

        Oh, so probably will stay at $8M, although he has a shot at a SS this year… he’s 3rd in OPS amongst AL SS and 1st in BA still.

        • Carl G

          And of course anybody has a shot at a series MVP if they’re hot for those 4-7 games.

          If he wins one SS and one ALCS or WS MVP (probably close to E(X)), where does that put him?

        • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too)

          I think Silver Slugger is definitely a possibility this season, whether he deserves it or not. Asdrubal Cabrera and Alcides Escobar have the performance, but maybe not the big name recognition, to beat Jeter out. Winning a SS would add $1.5M to Jeter’s 2014 option.

    • Slugger27

      the article states its a team option, though it is in fact a player option. the next few sentences imply a player option but its not whats actually written. its safe to go ahead and pencil in jeter at SS for $8M in 2014.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Eric Schultz

        Fixed, thanks for pointing that out.

  • Murderers’ Row Boat

    Lin was a below-average player in a system that helped out point guards. The only thing anyone has to learn from the Lin Saga is to spend more time looking at production than fanfare. Being the “big ticket” is something for the circus, not a professional sports team.

  • Januz

    The issue with Lin and Jeter and to a lesser extent, Cano is quite different. Jeter is a 1st Ballot Hall of Famer (HOF), who derives a lot of his income, from the Advertising $$$$ related to being a New York Yankee, so him leaving of his own accord is unlikely. Cano, is a tougher sign becausee is now represented by Scott Boras. However, the one thing about Boras is his use of statistical analysis to justify the numbers he is demanding for his clients. These numbers state that Cano is close to Cooperstown, but he needs to be “In the right situation.” (Another favorite Boras phrase) to accomplish this. If he goes for the highest contract, he may end up in a situation where a likely HOF career is scuttled because of issues such as not having the short porch of Yankee Stadium (Making him easier to pitch to), and the Yankee lineup that helps him get good pitches to hit. My gut feeling is that as contracts like Granderson (Who I think they will let go),Soriano, Martin, Swisher and Kuroda come off the books (Mason williams, Mark Montgomery and Brett Marshall being three low cost options), they will get under the $189m threshhold, and still keep Jeter (And quite likely, Cano as well).

  • BK2ATL

    I can’t agree with this at all. He had a nice run and all, but you can’t be serious.

    First, the Knicks were fiscally right not to match this contract. Linsanity is all hype, but wouldn’t have made the Knicks any better on the court over the next 3 seasons. I wonder what the uproar will be when Lin is the starting PG representing the West over the likes of Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook and Steve Nash, each of whom will probably have much better seasons than Lin. It’s all hype. He’ll get exposed nightly in Houston. Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd will solidify the PG position this season. Next season, they’re going after Chris Paul.

    Second, you’re reaching very far in your comparison with the Yankees. If the Yankees had signed, say, Aaron Small to a 5 yr, $50 million deal, people would go crazy. That’s the equivalent of Lin. Or Scott Mitchell in NFL. Oh wait, we did. Kei Igawa ring a bell? Cano and Granderson have no business in this conversation. They are proven vets who will provide much more value on the field than Lin will on the court in the future.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      He could prove each of us who are knocking him wrong but, right now, while the Small/Igawa comparisons are a bit mean, yeah, he’s a bench guy who had a brief good streak before getting injured.

      FWIW, I like the guy. Seems like a genuine nice guy and I like an Ivy Leaguer proving the jocks wrong. He’s not to blame for the hype.

    • CP

      There’s a huge difference between baseball and basketball. Anyone (or almost anyone) can have a great 25 game streak in baseball. That’s not the case in basketball; 25 games of that level of production actually mean something in basketball.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        How so?

        (Honest question. Not trying to show you up.)

    • deadrody

      Right. NOW is the time to get fiscally sane. Nevermind that when this allegedly terrible deal would expire is exactly teh same time that the terrible deals for Chandler, Stat, and Melo would ALSO expire.

      They got “fiscal sanity” in regards to the only young player they had. Half their lineup will be in their upper 30s.

      Ridiculously bad decision.

    • Kevin G.

      There is almost no way for the Knicks to get Chris Paul. They will not be able to sign him outright (duh) or even S&T for him. Only way it’s possible is if Clippers deal him at the deadline, which they won’t because they’ll believe they can retain him and go to the playoffs. Even if they do trade the Knicks would have very little to offer.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I believe the Knicks made the correct decision to let Lin move on to the Rockets. I’m no fan of the present day pro game but did watch Linsanity unfold. It was exciting to see this talented player bring the fan base up on its feet while he was on the court. But IMHO Lin became over exposed and was caught forcing situations in which turn overs were too prevalent for a point guard. He can shoot but his drives appeared out of control.

    The Yankees have tougher decisions to make with star caliber players contracts involved. If they can make some moves at the end of this season or during the trade deadline bringing in a RF or platoon situation as mentioned in a prior article. This coupled with homegrown pitching talent or astute trades. The Yanks could be good to go. Unfortunately, Swisher has to be the start of the cycle toward 189 cap. I don’t believe Nick will give a hometown discount to the Yanks which may lead to his exit. But a rotation of CC, Petitte, Huhges, Nova, Pineda or Phelps would be a good and pretty cost effective.

  • Gonzo

    I don’t think it matters for the Knicks. They are the Baltimore Orioles of the NBA.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I laughed.

    • CS Yankee

      I would say the Mets of the NBA as they always pay huge dollars for a second-rate product, and whenever they get on a run its a huge story (followed by a collaspe).

  • Rich in NJ

    I think it’s apparent that Lin didn’t want to remain with the Knicks. If he did, he could have asked them to structure a 3 year/$25m contract in a way that minimized the tax hit on them. That he renegotiated a contract that maximized the tax on the Knicks instead, speaks volumes about his intentions.

    Anyway, their decision to use the one-time amnesty on Billups, rather than saving it for Amar’e’s contract, considering he had already injured his back and hadn’t fully recover despite a summer of rest, was far worse, and will have a greater negative impact, imo.

    • Anon

      Just to be clear, Lin stated he would’ve preferred to stay in NY. Second, the Rockets are the one who created the terms of the offer sheet which Lin signed; Lin didn’t have a say in the matter as to how the offer sheet was structured (ie- the $15M in year 3). It was Houston’s intent to maximize the luxury tax penalties imposed on NYK; hence, the “poison pill” $15M year 3 provision.

      Also, you cant blame Lin for seeking out more money as a professional athlete; name me an athlete that WOULDN’T want to sign for as much money as possible, especially considering this is his first real contract. If he were an already established multimillionaire (ie-LBJ/Wade/Bosh or Cliff Lee), I can see the argument that he could’ve offered to stay in NY for a hometown discount, but considering this is his chance at a real payday (and quite possibly his only one), are you really going to blame him for trying to capitalize on his opportunity?

      • CS Yankee


  • neaks

    yanks weren’t outbid for Cliff Lee, he just chose to accept a smaller contract

    • CS Yankee

      Depends on how you look at it…years versus dollars.

      It could be argued either way, and i’m not sure about the tax affect (TB/Miami would have had no taxes for his 81 games, guessing Philly does but less than NYC).

    • RetroRob

      The Phillies actually paid Lee more money per year than the Yankees offer, which is why the players’ union fully supported it. Lee set a new AAV record for pitchers, and the union cares more about that than a guaranteed year at the back end. I believe the Phillies offer was either a million or two more per year.

      It’s possible the Yankees could have matched that, but Lee got his money setting a new record and wasn’t interested since they wanted to return to Philly.

  • leftylarry

    The Jeremy lin situation was simple.
    Knicks don’t know what they are doing and sohuld never have made the CArmelo (loser) Anthony trade and tihs is just one more casualty.
    The understood that lin cannot excell with CArmelo on the wing standing there with his left amr up and saying, “Give me the ball and get out of the way.”
    So, why pay the extra “Tax” just ot placate Asian fans.In the ned they wanted him on the team, cheap and not as a major player in reality becuase he doesn’t mesh with CArmelo out there, few players do.
    I have been a knick fan since the early 1960’s, played hoops in HS and as a freshman in college and understand the game of basketball, unfortunately few do.
    As Red Auerbach used to say when he was doing nothing but winning Championships every year, “There are plenty of players who can shoot and plenty of players who can pass but very few who know when to shoot and when to pass and those are the ones you can win with.
    Jeremy Lin knows when to shoot and when to pass and how to play winning basketball, Carmelo doesn’t, he’s a team wrecker and coach killer type player.
    Knicks and Dolan especially are Clueless.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Right……and Carmelo was going to take you all to the promised land, wasn’t he? It was months of Knicks fans talking about when Carmelo arrives, blah blah blah. I had people seriously claiming to me that he, Chandler, and Amare were “The Real Big Three.”

      Carmelo Anthony is EASILY the most talented guy on that team, but he’s the loser. Right.

      New York sports fans, even Yankee fans, cease exercising logic and reason when it comes to the Knicks.

  • not that mike

    I happen to think the biggest reason for the non-match was the Knicks knew that despite the marketing bonanza and attention they would get, the presence of Lin will not get them past the Heat or other top teams.

    the hope for the knicks to become champions is to maximize contributions from their stars -Melo and Stat, and they went the safe route with a coach who supports Melo’s game, and a PG tandem which has a proven ability to get the ball to Stat.

    even if the net effect is the same, they will reestablish Stat as a vaible player, making him a more valuable commodity to trade to clear up cap space for CP3 or someone(s) else.

    The core of Lin/Melo/Stat/Chandler was not getting them anywhere in the playoffs, but their combined salaries would limit their ability to improve.

    The passing on Lin is a consequence of a stupid contract to Chandler, but without a real upgrade from Lin or a shooting guard they are nowhere in the playoffs anyway.

    • Robinson Tilapia


    • deadrody

      And what will ? Raymond Felton ? Their roster is not set in concrete for the next 3 years anyhow.

      Letting Lin go does not give them any flexibility and they were a better team with him than without.

    • SDM

      And you trust Raymond “Pillbury Doughboy” Felton to do that? I’m sorry but I would have gone with the 23 yr old with a ton of upside

  • Eddard

    The Yankees CAN and WILL re-sign Robbie Cano and Curtis Granderson, luxury tax be damned. These two are proven ballplayers unlike Lin who is a flash in the pan. Also, Robbie and Grandy are loyal Yankees. Lin was not loyal and that’s why he’s not a Knick anymore. This is the team George built and George would have re-signed both players no matter the cost. The rhetoric by Hal is just posturing for contract negotiations.

    • RI$P FTW

      “Also, Robbie and Grandy are loyal Yankees.”


      • RetroRob

        Robbie and Grandy are loyal Yankees until they accept an offer from another team, like Lin, and then are no longer loyal. Lin was a loyal Knick until a few days ago.

  • Mike T.

    Jeter should not be re-signed under any circumstances. That would allow sentimentality to govern what should be purely a baseball decision. If he wants to chase the all time hit record while hitting .250 with no powere, he can do that somewhere else. Cano is gone as well. With Boars as his agent, he will no doubt be seeking something along the lines of a 10 year contract, and the Yankees should not be giving out any more of those. Granderson is someone I would consider bringing back, but for no more than 3 or 4 years. He doesn’t really run anymore and likely will soon be a corner outfielder.

    • Mike T.

      My apologies for the typos.

  • Deep Thoughts
  • Endlessmike

    Cano should scare everyone.Look at Utley.He was a future hall of famer and the best hitting second baseman in the game.And Bam he hits 31 years old and falls apart like every second baseman do.

    Cano will never be as good as Alomar,Morgan or even Utley and he’ll be 31 in he’s first year of a new contract.The yankees should only keep him if he’ll take a 5 year deal.It’s not worth keeping a $20 million second baseman past he’s prime.

    • jg233

      If I were a betting man, I would bet Cano finishes his career with better numbers than alomar, morgan and utley…he won’t be slowing down anytime soon…

    • jg233

      Also, comparing Cano to Utley is insulting to Cano…Robbie is 4 years younger and basically has better numbers than Utley already. Cano is a special talent…Utley simply is a hard worker who broke down.

      • CS Yankee

        You may want to review what you think is an insult. Utley was a beast, considered a better 2B than Cano and led both leagues in WAR.

        I’ve always preferred Cano to Utley or PEDroidA, but you better give Utley his due (for the day).

        Also, Alomar & Morgan is some pretty good company…Robbie has such a smoother swing but also is horrible on the bases. He runs (the bases) slightly faster and smarter than Jorge, just slightly.

    • Mike HC

      Definitely a good point, but I think sometimes we get too caught up with the second base thing. Cano could have easily been a third baseman or even corner outfield if that is where the Yanks needed him when he came up. It just seems a little arbitrary to me. Of course, any player can drop off regardless of position as well.

  • jjyank

    I know nothing about basketball or anyone who plays it. But I will say this: Resign Cano!

    • Robinson Tilapia


  • VT Yankee Fan

    A question on the 2014 salary cap. Is the $189M for the 25 man roster or the 40 man roster?

    • CS Yankee

      Thinking 25 man, however if you DFA a guy, that money still counts.

      True fact: the 189M$ number also derives from the floor of what Cano will get in the open market, over the next 6-7 years.

    • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too)

      40-man roster AAV plus benefit costs

  • Brian S.

    I assume Derek Jeter will activate his 2014 player option for 8 mil. I hope the organization is smart enough to avoid activating the club option.

    • CS Yankee

      If he is batting like today (.311, second in AL in hits, top 10 in average), he’ll back out and get another 3/50M$.

    • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too)

      What club option?

  • Doug

    The 800 pound gorilla in the room that will adversely affect the Yankees for years to come is ARod’s contract. Even if there is no further deterioration (and who in his mind believes that ARod will be able to maintain the status quo), his contract will hamper other Yankee personnel moves for years to come.

    • CS Yankee

      Tell us something we didn’t know five years ago.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      How is stuart doing, Doug?

  • jg233

    Ray Felton 3yrs/9Mil >>>>> Jeremy Lin 3yrs/25Mil

    • Mike HC

      If Felton is dedicated and in shape, I think he is on about the same level as Lin anyway, regardless of the money. They also have slightly different skill sets, and with Melo and Amare on the team, I would rather have the guy who plays more of a pure point than a combo guard.

  • Kiko Jones

    I would be shocked if Jeter had any true leverage at the end of his current deal. He bent the Yankees over a barrel last time b/c ownership did not want him hitting no.3000 in a different uniform, but I doubt he’ll get away with it next time.

    I just hope ownership doesn’t start prioritizing revenue over fielding winning teams…

  • Mike HC

    I see it as Lin making the mistake, not the Knicks. He signed some ridiculous contract structured specifically to stick it to the Knicks if they matched it. He put the Knicks in a no win situation. Sign him and you are stuck paying like 45 mil for just the third year, or don’t sign him and lose him. Unfortunately for Lin, he needed NY more than NY needed him.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I wish I could find a picture of Jeremy Lin sitting in a bathtub full of money as a reply to this.

      • Mike HC

        It is all relative. He is getting paid 25 million to play basketball, so he shouldn’t be too upset, to say the least, ha. But I still think he would have been better off long term if he found a way to stay with NY.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Why? Did Bill Bradley and Walt Frazier take stem cells and are coming back?

          • Mike HC

            Because he was playing ball in the heart of Manhattan and basically owned the city. All that could have continued. I have never been to Houston, it is probably just as good though, ha.

      • RI$P FTW

        But imagine all the Quiznos or Panda Express endorsement $$$ he’d be making in NYC.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    In conclusion,

    1) The Knicks fucking suck.
    2) The Knicks should all be placed in a barrel, which is then set on fire.
    3) Eric is a great writer and a great addition to RAB.
    4) The Cano/Grandy/Swisher decisions will be tough ones, but not ones I think are related to the Knicks/Lin situation.

    • CUYanks

      Well said, though I think there’s an argument to be made for which form of capital punishment be applied here on number 2.

    • stfu tilapia

      stfu kid with a fish last name.

  • cc

    I find that in discussions like these, most commenters seem to think that limiting the payroll is a worthy aim, and it’s a good thing when players aren’t signed for more than they’re worth on the field.

    As fans, why should we care about this? It’s not our $$, unless you equate higher payrolls with higher ticket prices. But I think those go up regardless, and in any case I can only go to about one game a year. I would rather the Yankees break the bank and have the best team than win the approval of imaginary GMs by bringing the payroll under some arbitrary limit.

    In basketball, it might be different, in that the salary cap makes balancing the roster difficult among stars and scrubs. But I don’t see why Yankee fans should applaud the strategy of lowering the payroll (though I wouldn’t mind them employing a few less announcers in the booth).

    This post hints that the “new reality” may be a problem, for example in the last sentence, but at other times seems on board with Project Reasonable Payroll.

    • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too)

      I think as fans, we all realize that owners aren’t going to spend an unlimited amount on payroll, whether the limit is an artificial one like the luxury tax threshold, or just an owner imposed budget. As fans, we want the best possible team for whatever the owner is willing to spend. Taking pay into account is just being realistic and realizing that overpaying for one player can potentially impact the overall quality of the team, at least on a long-term basis.

  • mt

    The reporting on this Lin situation has been a little frustrating in 2 areas:

    1some challenge sgould be made to those who ask why should Lin be the first contract where Knicks exercise fiscal restraint after years of bad money decisions (Jerome James, Eddy Curry, etc.) – some news reporter should compare the tax cost hit under the new CBA where a team can pay a tax like 4.5 to 1 for repeat offenders versus what it would have been before under old CBA.

    2)someone should disabuse fans of notion of now getting Chris Paul since Lin is gone – I am no expert on CBA but given that Knicks are already up against luxury tax I do not see how Knicks get Chris Paul (unless Clippers trade him before trade deadline, which I do not see happening since Clippers want to win this year – CP will wait (like Deron Williams did with Nets) to re-sign with Clippers or even go to a new team – there is a financial disincentive for him to extend during the season). Even if Clips trade CP, what do Knicks have in tersm of matching salaries or first round picks to get him?

    Then just like Nets seem to be locked out of signing Dwight Howard if he ever becomes a restricted free agent (because of contracts to Williams, Johnson, Lopez, Wallace, Humphries, etc.) I do not think Knicks have anywhere near the cap room to sign Chris Paul as an unrestricted free agent.

  • blooper

    Not resigning Lin was a ridiculous decision, despite its not being clear how good a player he is at this point. Even if it turns out he’s not worth 8.3 million a year, the Knicks just gave away for nothing basically their only trade chip without breaking up the core of the team. Whatever Lin turns out to be worth, someone would have given them something of value at the trade deadine this year. Someone like the Rockets, for instance, who will still be willing to take a chance on the contract 40 games down the road.

    As it is, the Knicks talent falls far short of championship caliber. Lin might not have been the guy to get them there, but without him or what they could have got for him it’s hopeless. Kidd and Felton, seriously? Dolan let his ego get in the way, once again and it’s at least 4 more years in the wilderness before some of the truly horrible contracts start to expire.

  • Kel

    In journalism class, we’d call this article a bad stretch. The Lin and Yankee situations are totally different.