The All-Star Game is just a glorified exhibition for us fans, but to the players it’s quite a bit more. For some, it can be a cash cow. Take Derek Jeter for example. Despite having more money that he’ll ever be able to spend, the Cap’n received a $500,000 bonus from the Yankees for being named to the Midsummer Classic. He was the biggest breadwinner this year, but Curtis Granderson could end up making the most from his All-Star nomination. Grandy not only gets a $25,000 bonus, but his 2013 option increases from $13M to $13.5M as well. A total of 15 players received bonuses for their All-Star nods, and Maury Brown has the full list right here.
As the Yankees sign big-name free agents or their own players to seemingly larger-than-life contracts, we often bemoan the expenses. We shudder at the idea of paying 41-year-old A-Rod $21 million, 36-year-old Mark Teixeira $22.5 million or CC whatever exorbitant amount he will make after leveraging his opt-out clause this winter. We worry that the dollars will reward players for past performances and that the spending will handcuff the Yankees, but perhaps we shouldn’t.
In an interesting piece on the Baseball Reference blog yesterday, Neil Paine looked at the 100 players making the highest percentage of team payroll, and the Yankees are surprisingly not well represented. A-Rod’s $32 million salary is only 15.8 percent of the Yanks’ payroll this year, good for 19th in baseball. Carlos Lee, who makes 26.9 percent of the Astros’ total payroll leads the pack.
Behind A-Rod, only two other Yankees make the top 100: CC Sabathia‘s salary puts him at 49th overall. He makes 12 percent of the team payroll. Mark Teixeira’s salary represents 11.4 percent $202 million total, good for 62nd overall. For what it’s worth, the Red Sox have just two players on that list while the Mets have six.
For well-leveraged big-market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, the object would be to limit the number of players on the list. With many high-paid players, clubs become top-heavy, and that’s what has happened to the Mets. They’re paying Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, David Wright, Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Reyes a combined 81 percent of their payroll which leads to little wiggle room for the rest of the 25-man roster. The Yankees have better maximized their economic might and can cover for so the more ungainly contracts.
Anyway, food for thought for the night. As we know, tonight’s game has been rained out, and no doubleheader is scheduled for tomorrow. The teams will instead make up tonight’s game on Thursday, Sept. 22 because Tampa Bay refused to play two on Saturday. Them’s the breaks.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have said they will skip Freddy Garcia’s spot in the rotation. A.J. Burnett will face David Price tomorrow, and CC Sabathia will close out the first half against James Shields on Sunday. In local action, the Mets and Giants play at 10:15 p.m. In New York, the MLB Network will carry the Seattle/Los Angeles game at the same time.
Updated (6:18 p.m.): With rain blanketing the New York area, Mother Nature has put Derek Jeter‘s quest for 3000 hits on hold. The Yankees announced a few minutes ago that tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays has been postponed due to the weather. The game will be made up on Thursday, Sept. 22, an off-day following a two-game set against Tampa Bay.
The Yankees initially wanted to play a double header tomorrow to accommodate fans who paid a premium in the hopes of seeing Jeter’s hit, but according to Jerome Preisler of the YES Network, the Rays were prepared to wait out a lengthy rain delay tonight if the Yanks did not drop the doubleheader request.
Frankly, I’m surprised by the Rays’ resistance to the doubleheader. The Yanks would have thrown Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett, and as A-Rod and Nick Swisher, who were out of today’s lineup, are day-to-day, the Yanks’ offense might have been at a weak point. Plus, with Mariano Rivera‘s arm bothering, he would have thrown in only one game at most, and then pen should be stronger when Tampa Bay next comes to town. Furthermore, Francisco Cervelli would have played one of the two games, and Eduardo Nuñez and Ramiro Peña likely would have as well to avoid aggravating Jeter’s calf or A-Rod’s knee. Ultimately, it sounds as though Tampa Bay is simply trying to avoid giving up Jeter’s 3000th hit. Anyway, neither team has yet announced its pitching plans for the rest of the weekend, and Derek Jeter will have just two home games to knock out two hits before the All Star Break
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Head on over the RAB Shop to get your own 3K themed RAB swag, and keep in mind that there are two different versions of the design. One worst better for light colors, the other for darker. You can customize it all, from size to style, and you don’t even need to get a shirt. There’s coffee mugs, onesies (no adult onesies, sorry), license plate frames, and much more. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the design, as always.
Lots of stuff to round up this afternoon…
- Derek Jeter will not play in the All-Star Game next week. He wants to rest and play it safe after coming back from the calf injury.
- Alex Rodriguez is being sent for a precautionary MRI on his right knee. The knee’s been bothering him for a while, and Alex has already withdrawn from the All-Star Game.
- Nick Swisher is out of the lineup tonight with a sore left quad. Thank goodness the break is coming up, sounds like everyone could use a few days off.
- So long, Brian Gordon. The right-hander is heading to Korea after a team over there purchased his contract. The Yankees reportedly received $25,000 for their troubles. Thanks for the two starts, man.
It’s clear to even the greenhorn baseball fan that unless you bleed pinstripes, you pretty much loathe them. The feeling is completely understandable. The Yankees have won far more championships than any other team, which sets in a measure of jealousy. There is also the infamous Yankee Greed: their shameless pursuit of free agents no matter the cost. You can look right to a recent Hardball Talk post for a shining example. There are few instances where I can disparage someone their Yankee hatred.
Angels fans, however, should be thankful that the Yankees got greedy in the winter of 2008. That, of course, is when they made their big splash, landing CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. All three were Type-A free agents, and therefore cost the Yankees their first three picks. Teixeira was the last of them to sign, and even then it came as something of a surprise. Media reports had Boston as the favorites, and there was little, if any, word that the Yankees were making a last-minute run. The Angels would be in a distinctly different position now if Boston had gotten its way.
As everyone knows by now, the Angels have called up Mike Trout, the consensus No. 2 prospect in baseball. They did so with the 25th pick of the 2009 draft, which was originally property of the Yankees. It was well known that the Yankees wouldn’t pick in that position, given their interest in multiple high-end free agents, so it’s not as though they ever had a shot at drafting Trout themselves. The situation would have changed, though, had the Red Sox signed Teixeira. Anaheim would then have received Boston’s pick, the 28th in the draft, while Milwaukee would have taken the 25th overall pick as compensation for CC Sabathia.
The situation isn’t as simple as it’s laid out, of course. The Angels also had the 24th pick in the draft, which they used on outfielder Randal Grichuk. There were reports that the Cardinals considered taking him with the 19th pick, but it was no lock that he’d go that high. (They were smart to take Shelby Miller instead.) In any case, since the Angels picked twice in a row there’s no real way of knowing which player they would have chosen if they had only the 24th pick. Maybe they just would have taken Trout then. If they hand’t, though, then Milwaukee would have had two cracks at him, at 25 and 26, and then Seattle would have had a chance before the Angels picked again. There is a decent chance, then, that Trout would have been off the board.
At the time, Trout was not in any way a world-beating prospect. If you read his draft report, you see the makings of a very good defensive outfielder who had some skills at the plate that were still raw. Also, he apparently started to switch hit around draft time, but he’s ditched that in favor of his natural righty swing. But in reading the report there’s no indication that he’d explode onto the scene and turn heads in every at-bat. Yet he dominated the Arizona League (rookie level) immediately after signing, hitting .360/.418/.506 before moving up to A ball for the final week or so of the season. That put him at No. 85 on Baseball America’s Top 100, which is quite a slot for the No. 25 pick in the most recent draft.
One year of A-ball dominance and a half-season of similar results in AA later, and he’s with the big league club. It might be only a temporary move, to let him get his feet wet while the starting center fielder, Peter Bourjos, nurses a strained hamstring. And, as Sam Miller of the Orange Country Register notes, the odds are against him producing much at the plate. But it still has to be a great feeling for Angels fans, to get a glimpse at one of the most hyped, and justified, prospects in baseball. I just hope they remember that the pick they used to take Trout was born of Yankee Greed.
Mike’s out this week, so I’m hosting the show solo. Don’t worry: it’s not just a 45-minute monologue. First I talk to Tommy Rancel of the Rays blog The Process Report. It’s an excellent read for anyone curious about the Yankees’ AL East rivals. We talk about the organizational philosophy and the current state of the team. Then it’s onto mailbag questions, submitted by you and read by me.
Podcast run time 42:44
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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.