While numerous free agents have yet to sign, ESPN.com has already rolled out their MLB 2009 watch list, and the Yankees just dominate the list. Peter Gammons sees CC Sabathia as the biggest new face in a new place; Jerry Crasnick accurately puts Joe Girardi on the hot seat; and Rob Neyer tabs the Bronx Bombers as the team to win it all. Sounds about right to me. · (52) ·
Baseball execs returned from their holiday vacations today, and did so with a bang. There was a lot of news and we had quite a bit of content today, so let’s review:
- Mark Teixeira‘s press conference is tomorrow at 1pm, and will be held in the Old Stadium. Between YES, MLB Network and ESPN’s family of networks, I’m sure this one will be on TV. One of us will liveblog it.
- Ben tackled the issue of parity in baseball.
- Pat the Bat joined the Rays for the bargain price of $16M over 2 years, and Milton Bradley agreed to a 3yr, $30M deal with the Cubbies. The Burrell signing is an outstanding one for Tampa, Bradley … not so much. I just can’t see how you can expect him to play the field every day for the next three years and remain healthy.
- Jason Giambi appears to be heading back to Oaktown. Giambi hit .260-.404-.521 with 207 homers during his seven years in pinstripes, and I will stand and applaud him when he returns to the Bronx as a visitor.
- Twins’ owner Carl Pohlad passed away.
- One time great Yankee Nick Green signed with the Sox. I’m sure everyone remembers “The Nick Green Game.”
- Ex-Yank Luis Vizcaino is on the verge of joining his sixth team in six seasons.
- December was the greatest month in RAB history.
Busy day, so talk about all of it here. The Fiesta Bowl (Ohio St. vs Texas) is on FOX at 8pm, and the Rangers will be taking on Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Penguins at home tonight. Dave’s back from his vacation, so check out what a real hockey blogger looks like at Blueseat Blogs. You know the drill, anything goes, just play nice.
Via MLBTR comes the news that Jason Giambi and the A’s are nearing agreement on a one-year deal. Mychael Urban at MLB.com believes the deal will contain an option. While no dollar figures have been released yet, Giambi will probably be getting less than $10 million for his services. The Yanks had no need for him anymore, but the A’s clearly do. The Giambino can still hit for power and average get on base, and he will give a significant boost to an offense that scored just 646 runs last season. · (50) ·
Pat Burrell is a 32-year-old power-hitting outfielder with some pretty good career numbers. He’s a .257/.367/.485 hitter with an OPS+ of 119. While he’s not as good as Bobby Abreu, he is two and a half years younger than the former Yankee and was hoping for a significant payday this off-season.
Milton Bradley is two years younger than Burrell and seems to be fulfilling the offensive potential that earned him rave reviews while a top prospect for the Expos. He has a career line of .280/.370/.457 and is coming off a season with an OPS+ of 163. He too was set for a big deal.
It’s fairly shocking, then, to learn that Bradley has signed a three-year, $30-million deal with the Cubs while Pat the Bat is on the verge of signing a two-year, $16-million deal with Tampa Bay. Burrell made $14 million alone in 2008 and was coming off of a six-year, $50-million deal. I highly doubt that a 40 percent salary reduction was in his head while the Phillies were celebrating their World Series Championship.
Now, what, you may be wondering, does this have to do with the Yankees? Well, Burrell and Bradley are the next two — behind Raul Ibañez — in the group of corner outfielders to sign, and they’re both doing so at AAVs well below what anyone would have expected just a few months ago. With these signings, the market for Bobby Abreu is further defined, and there is virtually no way that in 2009 Bobby Abreu will earn anywhere close to the $16 million the Yankees paid him last year.
In other words, had the Yankees offered arbitration to Bobby Abreu, there is a very good chance Abreu would have accepted, and the Yankees would be paying a 35-year-old Abreu far above market value for his services. While they may have sacrificed a draft pick in the process, the Yankees made the right choice when they let Abreu go, and each outfield signing this winter just emphasizes that reality.
Now that the holidays are over, we would like to take a post to wrap up December, by far the most successful month in RAB’s 22-month history. With Mike and Joe in Vegas and the Yanks’ signings of A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, traffic boomed in December. We received nearly 460,000 unique visitors and over 700,000 page views, eclipsing our previous high by nearly 275,000 page views. We’ve had a lot of great conversations and a lot of baseball debate. As the Yanks look to finalize their roster and prepare for the 2009 season, we’ll be here for every step of the ride. So thanks for visiting, and keep on coming back for more. · (71) ·
Over the past few weeks I’ve been taking a lighthearted look at what sabermetric sage Bill James has projected for various parts of the Yanks’ squad, starting with the rotation. Next I jumped to the lineup, and then last week I sorted out the bullpen. Now it’s time to wrap up this little series of posts by tying up the loose ends.
The Yanks’ bench was pretty brutal last year, as injuries forced several guys into more playing time then designed. Jose Molina did his best as Jorge Posada‘s injury fill-in, and poor Wilson Betemit was ripped endlessly for being a two true outcomes bench player (extra base hit or strikeout). The latter was eventually jettisoned off in favor of the older but cheaper Cody Ransom, a career minor league journeyman who whacked a couple of meaningless longballs when the team was basically out of it.
Jose Molina, C
Projection: .232-.274-.333, 20 R, 12 2B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 45-9 K/BB, .271 wOBP
Offense is definitely not Molina’s calling card. The middle Molina brother owns a career 61 OPS+, and actually underperformed it last year (51 OPS+). Luckily James sees a little bit of a “rebound” in Molina, who projects to raise his OPS back up over the .600 level. We love Hava Molina here at RAB, but the less he plays the better.
In those 30 years, 20 different teams have won World Series titles, and it would likely be 21 without the 1994 strike that cost the sport’s best team — the Montreal Expos — a chance to win it all. In those 30 years, 14 different teams have won the Super Bowl, 13 have won the Stanley Cup, nine have won the NBA championship.
PA asks, “Does the three tier playoff system create parity in baseball, or do the short series create the illusion of parity?”
Now, assessing parity is a dangerous exercise. If you go back in time too far, as Gammons did, you run the risk of heading from one economic era to the next. In baseball, the past 30 years has been an eternity. The average salary in 1978 was just under $100,000. That’s just $325,000 in 2008 or less than the current MLB minimum.
So let’s start in 1995, the year after the strike and arguably the beginning of current economic era in baseball. We’ve witnessed 14 seasons of baseball and nine different World Series champions. More impressively, 26 different teams have made the playoffs since 1995.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that. In the AL, five teams — the Yanks, Red Sox, Indians, A’s and Angels — have made the playoffs five or more times, and in the NL, that numer is four (Braves, Dodgers, Cardinals, Astros). Is that parity? It’s hard to say.
I think jscape’s question is tougher to answer than with raw numbers. By having a field of eight head into October, MLB guarantees that 26.6 percent of its teams will make it to the postseason. That’s enforced parity. But if the same teams return on a near-annual basis, are different World Series victors simply illustrative of the fact that in a short series anything can happen? Perhaps so.
What I do know is that of the 2007 playoff teams, just two — the Cubs and Red Sox — made encore appearances in 2008. Money may give teams a natural advantage, but in the end, I’d say that baseball has done an admirable job of creating parity. Most teams have a shot at the playoffs each year, and any team can win in October. That’s good for the game no matter how you slice or dice it.
One of my causes célèbres on this blog has long been some vocal opposition to way the Yankees have gone about seeking and securing money for the new stadium. While at this point, there is very little anyone can do about the way the stadium has been funding, I believe that it is important to understand why the funding process has been so flawed.
To that end, allow me to introduce a Daily News column by Paul Weinstein about the Yanks’ latest request for tax-exempt bonds. He writes:
According to an estimate by the New York City Independent Budget Office, the request for more bond authority will cost city, state and federal governments more than $80 million in lost revenues. This is happening, remember, at a time when the city can ill-afford to waste a single dollar.
It’s not just the literal dollars being spent that hurts; it’s the opportunity cost. New York City will lose $259 million in tax-exempt debt that could be used to fund other important projects – such as building more affordable rental housing or a new Moynihan Station. In 2009, according to the IRS, New York State will receive roughly $1.7 billion in tax-exempt bond authority for joint public and private ventures. If the Yankees’ request is approved, it will use about 15% of that allotment…
Worst of all, that $259 million in extra bonds will not create a significant number of new jobs at a time when New York is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Weinstein goes on to talk about how public support and financing for stadiums and arenas can be efficient as long as the proposed buildings are multiple-purpose venues anchoring distressed areas that serve as an integral part of the community. Considering that the Yanks have shouldered a significant portion of the construction costs, this is a prime example, he writes, of when public financing for a stadium should not be frowned upon.
Put he then takes the city to task for allowing the Yanks to return to the trough of public, tax-free bonds. “It is never a good idea to use public funds to cover costs not projected in the initial plan,” he writes. Doing so encourages government officials and sports franchises to hide the true cost of the projects and contractors to overcharge for their work.” That is, by the way, why New York has now changed its laws concerning the public financing of major construction projects.
I do take an issue with Weinstein’s central thesis. He claims that the Yanks’ spending on players — he throws out that misleading $420 million figure journalists love to throw around — means that they have the money to spend on stadium construction. That’s just a faulty claim though. The Yanks’ 2009 payroll should be marginally higher or the same as the one they had in 2008. That’s the number that counts, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they have $200 million lying around to cover stadium construction cost overruns.
In the end, I clearly do not support more public financing for the stadium. The City is already funding important infrastructure projects in the South Bronx area, and the team has received enough in tax-exempt bonds. The city has too many other important projects and not enough money to continue to dole out funding to the Yankees.
The Yankees are making plans for a press conference to fete new first baseman Mark Teixeira, perhaps as early as Tuesday, according to baseball sources.
The holidays pushed back any announcement – the Yankee offices have been closed since Christmas and are slated to reopen Monday. Multiple team bigwigs, including GM Brian Cashman and co-owner Hal Steinbrenner, have been on vacation. The Teixeira press conference could take place at the old Yankee Stadium.
Tex still has to take and pass a physical first, and that could be accomplished Monday. Once the deal is official, the only pieces of the offseason puzzle left are Andy Pettitte and/or another back-end arm, and maybe a bench player or two. Forty days until pitchers and catchers baby …
Use this as your open thread for the evening. The Ravens already took down The Fightin’ Penningtons this afternoon, while the Iggles and Vikes are locked in a back-and-forth affair. The Knickerbockers are taking on Bahston at home, and 24: Redemption is rerunning on FOX. Is it just me, or do the major Bowl games seem really late this year? Oh, and make sure you check me out at Blueseat Blogs. Dave will be back from vacation soon, so my days covering for him are numbered, but make sure you peep it anyway. He’s a way better hockey blogger than I’ll ever be.
You know the deal, talk about whatever, just be nice about it.