I have two stadium-related stories to cover today. One is about the increasingly obvious signs of shady dealings concerning the land under the new Yankee Stadium, and another is about two pieces of the old stadium heading to Tampa.
- In the Daily News yesterday, columnist Juan Gonzalez reported on yet another series of e-mails between city officials that may have some legal ramifications. The e-mails detail how the Bloomberg aides, according to Gonzalez, “secretly pressured city tax assessors to inflate the value of land under the new Yankee Stadium so the team could qualify for nearly $1 billion in tax-free bonds.” That’s what politicians call a bombshell. It’s tough to say what this means for the city or the Yankees. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky continues to investigate the issue, and at some point, he may subpoena all of the city’s e-mails concerning the land deal. Perhaps, in the end, he or the IRS can levy finds against the city or the Yankees. No matter the outcome, this is bad government.
- In rosier news, two scoreboards from Yankee Stadium are being shipped off to Legends Field. The scoreboards in question are new LED displays the Yanks purchased two years ago for $1 million. The team sold them to Hillsborough County for $250,000 each, and they’ll adorn the left and right field grandstands in Tampa. As long as they show the words to “Enter Sandman” during Spring Training, I’ll be happy.
Via MLBTR, it sounds like doctors may have misdiagnosed Baldelli with a potentially fatal mitochondrial disorder. Ken Bell of ABC6 in New England says the Baldelli family told him doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have diagnosed him with channelopathy, a very treatable and non-progressive condition. I haven’t seen confirmation of this anywhere else, which leaves me skeptical, but for Rocco’s sake I hope it’s true. It would be a major dick move on Bell’s part if the report turned out to be false. It goes without saying that I hope the Yanks go after him if this is the case, but first and foremost let’s all wish Rocco the best. The guy deserves to have something go his way for once.
Update (12:30pm): Baldelli semi-confirmed this report. · (81) ·
Jon Heyman had a few interesting reports pop up on his Hot Stove News Tracker blog last night. First, he reported that the Yanks are still eying Derek Lowe. Then a few minutes later, he noted that the Yanks still think Andy Pettitte will come back. I still don’t know how these reports don’t contradict each other.
Anyway, Heyman’s post on Andy Pettitte features two intriguing gems. First, Heyman notes that the Yanks have been looking at Ben Sheet’s medical records. That could indicate an impending offer. But of potentially more importance to the team going forward is this:
If Pettitte does say yes, the Yankees will save some money on the final starter, since Sheets and Lowe would cost more — and that could enhance their chances to add a big bat, meaning either Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez.
Now, while I’ve been a bit lukewarm on bringing back Pettitte, I really like the sound of adding a bat — and especially adding the bat the Red Sox appear to be targeting.
Maybe Mark Teixeira is just a pipe dream. Maybe the Yanks can shoulder only so many $160-million contracts. But as Ken Rosenthal writes, “If the Yankees want to draw a line, they should draw it with paying Andy Pettitte $10 million to be their fifth starter or Mike Cameron $10 million to be their center fielder. Not with Teixeira, for crying out loud.”
Meanwhile, Mark Feinsand has a different take on things. It’s not Teixeira but rather Manny Ramirez who is on the Yanks’ radar. According to Feinsand, Manny may in fact be causing a Front Office debate of sorts. Hank & Hal want Manny while Brian Cashman is more reluctant to pursue the enigmatic and expensive slugger. There’s nothing like a good old fashioned power play in the Bronx over an issue that has no right or wrong answer.
No matter the outcome, the Yanks seem to be going all in this off-season. They’ve spent a lot of money to improve the team. What’s another $23 million between friends? The right investment in the right bat certainly would make them clear early-season World Series favorites. Now, we just have to see who rules the day and if the Yanks can actually pull the trigger.
There’s been some rumblings about this for a couple of weeks now, but Kevin Goldstein says it’s now official: Hawaii Winter Baseball is kaput. Major League GM’s voted to consolidate off-season leagues to Arizona, so HWB’s second tour of duty comes to a close after three seasons (the league previously operated from 1993-1997). Rumor has it that a second Arizona Fall League will be established, but it’ll be a “junior league” for lower level players, similar to HWB. At least now we won’t have to be jealous of the players assigned to play in Hawaii each fall. · (4) ·
Probably the most discussed topic over the past few days/week has been the Yankees payroll, specifically as it relates to the team’s ability to sign another bat this off-season. Yesterday we discussed why the Yankees might not have as much free payroll as some assume. Still, they’re the Yankees and until we hear it from the boss, there’s no reason to believe that there’s a set ceiling for how much they’ll spend.
One aspect of payroll which has generated quite a bit of back and forth has been the team’s spending this year vs. the future. Some commenters have noted that if we just don’t re-sign Pettitte and forgo the Cameron trade, we could us that money to sign a big bat like Teixeira. After all, he’s looking at somewhere around $20 million per season, which is about what Cameron and Pettitte would make combined. (Of course, there are other mitigating factors in the Cam/Pettitte situation, like the Brewers taking on Igawa and some of his salary. But I digress.) The problem is that $20 million for 2009 is worlds different than, say, $168 million over eight years. That’s a bit tougher pill to swallow.
The advantage to being the Yankees is having enough money to do what they want, when they want. When a premium talent hits the open market, they can use their financial resources to lock him up to a deal. So when a player like Teixeira becomes a free agent, you know the Yankees will be involved. There is said to be some interest in Mark Teixeira. What the Yankees have to decide is whether it’s worth the payroll hit they’d take this year in order to add him to the lineup for the next eight years.
Here’s how the payroll scheme looks now:
Yankees Future Payroll
* AAV of contract
# Opt-out possibility
@ Team option
Now let’s see how that looks with Teixeira added in on an eight-year, $168 million deal.
Yankees Future Payroll w/ Tex
Remember, in each of these cases the team will be facing arbitration years for their now-young players. Hell, Austin Jackson could hit free agency after the 2016 season if he debuts this year or opens with the team in 2010. So while the numbers might look friendly now, they could see some serious increases as our youngsters earn the right to be paid better.
Like yesterday’s payroll post, I cooked this up so we can better guide the comment discussions. We’re talking about payroll a lot, so we should have all the facts at hand.
** Again, I didn’t include Igawa’s contract, Brackman’s money, or any other deals I neglected yesterday. I guess this just relates to the Opening Day payroll.
The beleaguered General Motors decided today that they will not be remaining as in-stadium sponsors of the Yanks next year. They’ve decided to maintain their New York baseball presence by sticker with the cheaper option in Queens. In response, the Yanks announced deals with Audi and Toyota as the car sponsors of the new Yankee Stadium. On the road or in the ballpark, that’s an upgrade. · (123) ·
The Yanks already made their big free agent splashes this offseason, so understandably things are kind of slow right now. There’s talk that the terms of the Mike Cameron deal have been agreed upon, but the Yanks are going to hold off on giving it green light for now. Manny Ramirez isn’t signing anytime soon, and Mark Teixeira is still picked between several nine-figure offers. I envy his situation.
So here’s your open thread on this slow night. You know how this goes, talk about whatever, just be nice to each other.
Site Note: The 2009 Draft Order Tracker has been updated now that the Raul Ibanez signing is official. If the Mariners fail to sign Josh Fields before the ’09 Draft, they’ll have three of the first 28 picks. With ex-Brewers’ Scouting Director Jack Zduriencik now at the helm, they can do some serious damage.
Jim Baumbach and Katie Strang penned an interesting piece on Joba today. The Yanks’ pitcher is going to skip his DUI court date — a mere formality at this point since he has already entered a not guilty plea — to headline a Police Athletic League fundraiser tonight. While Joba had been set to appear at this event long before his arrest, PAL decided not to pull Chamberlain from the event after his legal troubles arose. “What’s a better message to teach our kids?” PAL Executive Director Felix Urrutia Jr. said to Newsday. “You make a mistake and it’s not the end of the world. It’s how you respond to it that defines who you are, not that you made a mistake. That’s the overall lesson here.” That’s an interesting take on the situation for sure. · (9) ·
The sports industry’s trade publication Sports Business Journal has unveiled their list of the top 50 most influential people in sports business. As is only appropriate, a Steinbrenner occupies a prime spot on that list, but it’s not the one people might expect.
Hal, the younger of the Steinbrenner children and the team’s current head, earned himself the 28th spot on the list. SBJ writes rather glowingly of Hal, who is making his debut on this list:
Several years of gradual but historic change within the Yankees camp were codified last month when Hal Steinbrenner received official designation as the team’s controlling executive, trumping his older and louder brother, Hank, who will remain overall head of baseball operations.
Much more calm and measured when compared with Hank or their father, George, but still a firm negotiator, Hal provides a rather different face to the Yankees as they prepare to move into their new stadium in the spring. That ballpark, a $1.3 billion edifice packed with revenue-generating opportunities, gives Hal ample room to put his own stamp on the franchise.
We have covered this territory as well, but it’s clear that people inside the industry regard Hal as the real executive holding the reins of power inside the Yankee organization now. Hank may garner the back pages, but all he seems good for right now is a quote. He can talk and talk and talk, but when push comes to shove, the ultimate decision will be Hal’s. That should be very good for the Yanks indeed.
Whetting our appetites for more Hot Stove rumors is the latest from Jon Heyman. He reports that the Yanks are in on the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, but the team does not feel it will outbid Boston, Anaheim or the DC-Baltimore duo. They could, of course, very well surprise everyone, but the more I think about committing eight or nine years to Teixeira, the more hesitant I become. Heyman, meanwhile, notes that if Teixeira signs elsewhere, the Yanks will almost definitely go in on Manny Ramirez. A bat will be added to the Bronx lineup yet. · (296) ·