It’s a tough time for banks looking to garner a little name recognition. In one corner, we have Congress criticizing Citibank and the Mets over the stadium naming rights deal. In the other corner, we have columnists questioning Bank of America’s plan to sponsor the Yanks.
With the scrutiny on TARP and the general state of the economy, it is of course unsurprisingly to hear so many voices slam the banks. I just wonder if it’s the smartest policy. Rick Rothacker, financial columnist for Bank of America’s hometown Charlotte Observer, wonders if the beleaguered bank and long-time MLB sponsor should keep up the sports visibility. He writes:
[Bank spokesman Joe] Goode said Bank of America treats sponsorships as a business proposition rather than a mere marketing exercise. “We partner with profitable sports franchises that yield significant revenue streams for the bank,” he said. For example, the bank offers team-related products to consumers, makes loans to sports teams and offers wealth management services to players and owners. The Yankees debit and credit cards are among the bank’s most popular “affinity products,” he said…
“This is exactly the kind of thing taxpayers are fed up paying for,” said Stephen Lerner, assistant to the president at the Service Employees International Union, a frequent critic of the bank.
Banks that have taken taxpayer money, particularly ones such as Bank of America that have “double-dipped,” need to show they are being good stewards of taxpayer money, said Steve Ellis, vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan government watchdog group. Bank of America received $20 billion this month to help shore up its Merrill Lynch & Co acquisition, adding to $25 billion it had received earlier.
This raises some interesting sponsor-related questions, and as the Super Bowl ads are sure to be toned down this year, I wonder if that’s a good thing for our economy. Taxpayers are wont to complain if their money isn’t being spent wisely, but who is to say that investment in advertising and sponsorship isn’t a wise one?
Ideally, Bank of America and Citibank spend money on these deals because the returns pay off. Bank of American will draw in so many more customers and so many more investment dollars by plastering its name across the new Yankee Stadium just as Citibank will with the Mets.
As the economy attempts to straighten itself out, more and more of these stories will pop up, and the populist sentiment will be outrage. But it’s all part of the economy. Banks invest in sponsorships because it draws in customers while filling the coffers of other organizations. To pare down rational advertising just because the government is responsible for the bank portfolio is a knee-jerk reaction best left to closer analysis.
The July International Signing Period is one of most unique experiences baseball has to offer. The players signed out of Latin America sound too good to be true, mostly because there’s so little information about them that whatever info we do have gets extrapolated out into something otherworldly. Take Edward Salcedo for example. He was beyond uberhyped last year, yet never signed with a team. If he was as good as advertised, wouldn’t someone have signed him by now?
One of this year’s top IFA prospects is Rafael DePaula of the Dominican, who according to this article (here’s the translated article) throws 93 with two excellent breaking balls and clean mechanics. The 16 year old righty already stands 6’3″, so he’s still got a ton of projection left. Let the hype begin. (h/t Michael Ruiz for the email) · (29) ·
Ken Rosenthal (via MLBTR) mentioned in his column today that the Yanks and Mariners talked briefly about a Hideki Matsui for Jarrod Washburn swap earlier this offseason, but couldn’t find a match because of the difference in salaries (Matsui’s owed $2.65M more than Washburn this year). I’m going to assume this discussion took place when it seemed like there was little chance Andy Pettitte would return, and perhaps even before the CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett pickups. You may remember that the Yanks were pretty close to acquiring the lefty before the trade deadline last year, but the M’s put a stop too the move because they wanted a top prospect in return.
I’ve been against trading Matsui because I think he’s more useful to the Yanks than anything they could get in return. Just look at Washburn, he kinda sorta qualifies as an innings eater – he’s averaged ~178 IP over the last three years – but he’s been below average during that time, posting between a 4.72 and 4.78 FIP and averaging +1.6 WAR (replacement level is set at two wins below league average, so Washburn was about half a win below average). With two bum knees, a full no trade clause and $13M coming to him, Matsui’s understandably not the most desirable trade target.
To the Yankees however, Matsui represents a bit of an upside play at DH. While dealing with knee issues that limited him to 287 of 486 possible games over the last three years, he hit .291-.372-.469 with a ~.365 wOBP. Do you know what Bobby Abreu hit last year? .296-.371-.471 with a .348 wOBP. It’s entirely reasonable to expect Matsui to replace Abreu’s production this year if he stays healthy, which he has a much better chance of doing as a DH.
Would it be nice to see a guy like Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn occupying the DH spot? Sure, but given the Yanks current roster construction that’s extremely unlikely. Let’s give Hit-deki a chance, he just might surprise us.
The Yanks avoided arbitration with Brian Bruney yesterday, agreeing to a one year contract that will keep them out of the hearing rom this year. Last year the Yanks and Chien-Ming Wang went to a hearing, and if you’re interesting in just what goes on in that room, check out this arbitration primer by Maury Brown. It’s a quick and painless read, and it’ll give you a nice overview of what actually goes into these things. The only official piece of business the Yanks have left this offseason is to renew the contracts of players with 0-3 years of service time, meaning Hughes, Joba and half the bullpen. Baseball season’s a comin’. · (12) ·
Longtime RAB reader and commenter Dan (better known as “dan” around these parts) has his guest post up over at LoHud. The topic: remembering the correct way to evaluate a trade. Far too often you see fans base their opinions on roster moves based solely on hindsight, which is the absolute wrong way to go about it. You have to consider the context of the trade in terms of what’s given up and what’s received at the time of the deal. Trading Nick Johnson & Juan Rivera – two young & talented but blocked players – for 27 year old Javy Vazquez coming off four straight seasons of 215+ IP and no higher than a 3.68 FIP is a move you make ten times out of ten, no matter how it turned it down the road. Make sure you check it out.
If you want to read more of dan’s stuff, you can check him out at Statistically Speaking or, when he has time, The Poor Man’s Analyst. · (18) ·
I am so jealous of WCBS 880 AM right now. They get to inside the new stadium while everything is being tested. Above, Jorge Posada in the old Yankee Stadium is shown on the screen at the new Yankee Stadium. That’s a nice-looking monitor they have up there. Meanwhile, other images include a shadow creeping across the field, a view from the broadcast booth and the outfield. Opening day can’t come soon enough.
Gonna be a short and quick OT tonight. Here’s a roundup of news:
- Brian Bruney agreed to a one year, $1.25M contract to avoid arbitration.
- All-Star Catcher and Super Captain Jason Varitek returned to the Sawx, inking a two year deal that could be worth up to $10M.
- Eric Hinske latched on with the Pirates, who also signed Paul Maholm to a three year contract extension.
- Fangraphs took a look at the future of The Justin Upton.
- Beyond the Box Score looked at Adam Dunn’s value.
- Starting Monday, there will be baseball … on TV!!!
Here’s your talk about anything thread for the night. Play nice.
While we had a fun debate in this morning’s post on the news that the Yanks may be out of free agent options, Barry Bloom has since corrected himself. The Yankees and every other team, reports the MLB.com scribe, can sign eight Type A or B free agents this year. Since the Yanks have already signed five — Teixeira, Sabathia, Burnett, Marte, Pettitte — they could still sign Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn and Ben Sheets or Juan Cruz. Get on the phone, Cash! · (44) ·
According to PeteAbe, the Yankees have signed reliever Brian Bruney to a one-year deal. This locks up all of their arbitration-eligible players. We’ll update one the final figure is in. In avoiding arbitration, the Yankees have signed Melky Cabrera to a $1.4 million deal, Chien-Ming Wang to a $5 million deal, and Xavier Nady to a $6.55 million deal.
Update: It’s for $1.25 million. · (23) ·