It’s a quiet day for baseball news. The Yanks’ Front Office is shut after a wildly successful December, and most of baseball is quiet for Christmas. Use this thread to discuss anything you wish. Just play nicer than India and Pakistan right now.
As The New York Times Co. continues to see its newspaper holdings shed money, the company is looking to move one of its profitable ventures. According to The Wall Street Journal, The Times Co. wants to sell its 17.5 percent stake in the Red Sox for $300 million. While Barclays Capital believes this share to be worth about $166 million, The Times is shooting for the stars in a bad economy. If they are successful in getting their asking price, the Red Sox as a whole would be worth around $1.7 billion. Fundraiser, anyone? · (11) ·
Even Tuesday, hours before Teixeira agreed to terms, the Yankees were pessimistic about getting the 28-year-old slugger, the source said. Boras told the Yankees they needed a 10-year deal, with the last two years as player options. That got an absolute no from the Yankees, who had offered eight years and $180 million ($22.5 million per year).
Around midday Tuesday, Boras said Teixeira would agree to an eight-year contract, but only if the average annual value was $24 million per year, making the total contract value $192 million. The Yankees conferred, then told Boras no, that they had made a fair yet firm offer and would stand pat, the source said. Boras responded by saying that Teixeira likely would be a Red Sox.
The Yankees refused to budge from their offer, and 20 minutes later, Boras called back and said Teixeira would take their eight-year, $180-million offer.
Also working in the Yanks favor, according to Murray Chass, is that “[Teixeira] and his wife, especially his wife, didn’t want to live in Boston.” Boras says that the issue wouldn’t have disqualified Boston, but that’s easy to say after the fact.
With Mark Teixeira now in the fold, it appears the Yankees have more potential starters than they do positions for them to fill. There has been some speculation, though for the most part not based on anything said from within the organization, that the Yankees could shop one of their outfielders. They have Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, and Melky Cabrera all vying for the three outfield and the DH spots. While it stands to reason that they could try to trade one, Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News says they could shop two.
The Yankees are looking to move two from a group of outfielders of Xavier Nady, Swisher and Hideki Matsui. The Angels, Texas, Oakland and Atlanta are considered to have interest.
Wow. Two from that group. I still say it’s doubtful that they trade Matsui. What you get back for him won’t come close to what he could potentially add to the lineup. If healthy — and that’s clearly a longshot — he could replicate Bobby Abreu’s 2008 numbers. If traded, he’d bring back little more than a C prospect (of course, that’s just my own speculation). It’s tough to foist a 35-year-old outfielder making $13 million and coming off two knee surgeries on another team.
I also don’t think trading Swisher is a great idea. He’s the only corner guy under contract for 2010. Xavier Nady would have the highest value, I think, since he has one year left until free agency and stands to make around $6 million for 2009. He’ll make less next year than Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell, and won’t hav the long-term commitment attached.
The best offensive alignment is obviously Nady-Damon-Swisher. There are plenty of question marks to go along with that, most notably Damon’s ability to play center. In any case, though, it’ll be interesting to see how the Yankees approach their surplus.
The Yankees may be able to outspend the field, but when push comes to shove, they are going to have to win on the field as well. Jonah Keri, for one, isn’t quite ready hand the World Series trophy over to the Yanks. With so much money on the table, anything short of a World Series title will be a huge disappointment, but Yankee fans know as well as anyone that the highest payroll doesn’t lead to winning. After all, the Yanks have doled out the most per year since 2001 with nary a championship. This time, the money seems to be well spent, but can that translate to success on the field? · (9) ·
It seems that the Red Sox and Mark Teixeira have a decade-long history that goes back to the 1998 draft. According to Justin Sablich, Boston tried to draft and sign Teixeira in the first round, and when the then-18-year-old expressed his desire to go to college, the Red Sox made sure Teixeira wasn’t drafted by anyone else. A jilted lover — or, in this case, a first baseman — never forgets. · (13) ·
With the world economy in turmoil, the Yankees have spent money with seemingly no regard for the markets, and they’ve taken their fair share of criticism for it. Some other owners think they can’t compete with the Yanks’ millions. Other commentators think the Yanks are showing an insensitivity to the struggles of most Americans during a recession.
Maury Brown succinctly summed up this spending. “The total base salaries of A-Rod ($32 million), Jeter ($20 million), Teixeira ($20 million), and Sabathia ($14 million) for 2009 will be $86 million,” Brown writes, “or more than the Opening Day payrolls of more than half the league last year (Brewers, Indians, Giants, Reds, Padres, Rockies, Rangers, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Royals, Twins, Nationals, Pirates, Athletics, Rays, and Marlins).”
On the flip side, however, are those who see the Yankees’ spending as the perfect storm at the right time. The Yanks cleared a lot of money off their books this year, and they are simply replacing those contracts in the most efficient way possible. They’ve signed pieces they need, and even Peter Gammons offers up praise for the Yanks’ approach. Meanwhile, as Cliff Corcoran noted earlier tonight, the Yanks are basically replacing their 2008 free agents dollar for dollar.
Take a look at the chart Corcoran drew up:
|Player||2008 cost||2009 cost||Net|
|Jason Giambi||21||5 (buyout)||16|
|Carl Pavano||11||1.95 (buyout)||9.05|
|Wilson Betemit/Nick Swisher||1.165||5.3||(4.135)|
He adds some commentary (emphasis mine):
As you can see, even after signing CC Sabathia, Mark Teixiera, and A.J. Burnett, the Yankees’ commitments for 2009 are still within $4 million of their 2008 payroll. That number will increase. Coming off a career year, Xavier Nady will earn a few million more via arbitration (Brian Bruney and Melky Cabrera are also arb-eligible, but unlikely to get significant raises), and there’s still a chance that the Yankees will add payroll via a one-year deal for Andy Pettitte or an alternate fifth-starter or a veteran center fielder. There are also automatic incremental raises due to the team’s pre-arbitration players based on major league playing time. Even still, the net change in team payroll will be negligible relative to the massive dollar figures connected to those three new contracts.
In the end, the Yankee spending seems to look bad, but they’re not doing much more than filling holes with large contracts. It’s sort of crazy to realize that the Yankees now have the top four contracts in the game, but a free agent class similar to the one we’ve seen in 2008 doesn’t come along that often. The last time this much talent was available for only money was in 2000 when Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Mike Mussina signed some of the wealthiest deals around.
I certainly understand why some people may be uncomfortable with the spending, and why some Yankee fans — my dad included — may view it as ostentatious spending. But it’s part of the system. The Yankees are replacing old contracts with new ones, and they’re doing it with the resources they have and can spend. Until or unless someone comes along to limit that spending, the Yankees will keep on doing what they do best, come economic hell or high water. It always has been and always will be a business, and the Yanks are at the top of the game in that regard.
Barring some unforeseen baseball news, this is going to be it from us for a while today. Enjoy the holiday. We’ll be back later tonight.
Merry Christmas to all from the three of us here at RAB.
The Times’ Ben Shipgel profiles Mark Teixeira today, and he paints a picture of a consummate professional baseball player who, like many of us, grew up idolizing Don Mattingly. Long gone, it seems, are the days when the Yanks’ first baseman wintered in Las Vegas and spent his spare time signing body parts. · (15) ·
It’s almost unnecessary to defend the Yanks’ recent spending spree. Yankee fans love it, and Yankee haters won’t like no matter how much logic you throw their way. But for some reason, that fact of life hasn’t prevented Randy Levine from excusing the Yanks’ spending spree.
In a Michael Schmidt piece in The Times today, Levine defends the Yankees’ big contracts. “The philosophy of George Steinbrenner, which has been continued by Hal and Hank, is that the Yankees are a sacred trust to their fans and they believe in continually reinvesting in the team rather than reinvesting in themselves,” Levine said to Schmidt. “We follow all the rules of baseball, we pay millions of dollars to other teams and we are essential to the revenues generated by Major League Baseball and its networks and other entities.”
In signing C. C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett to big free-agent contracts and reaching agreement with Mark Teixeira on an eight-year, $180 million deal, the Yankees have now spent far more money this off-season than the other 29 major league teams combined. For those keeping score, it is $423.5 million to $296.6 million. That kind of discrepancy is too much for some commentators and for the Milwaukee Brewers’ owner, Mark Attanasio, who on Tuesday resurrected the idea of a salary cap as a way of reining in the Yankees.
Levine will have none of it. He said that the Yankees, by spending substantially on players, were making sure they remained a top asset in the sport. “We are usually in the top of road attendance and we get some of the highest television ratings, both when we play national games and when we visit other teams,” he said. He said if the Yankees’ new stadium, which will be ready for the 2009 season, allows the team’s revenue to increase, then “so will the revenues of the rest of the game.”
Levine added: “We are sensitive to the economic times and our fans. We believe it is good for the franchise and good for the fans to put the best product possible on the field, and that is what we strive to do.”
As Mike noted yesterday, baseball doesn’t need a salary cap, and anyone who says so right now is just envious of the Yankees’ situation. They’re doling out less money so far in 2009 than they did in 2008, and the reason they spent so much this year was because they could. The Yanks knew the 2008 free agent class was ripe for the picking, and they knew they had the money. It would have been far, far worse had they not spent.
Of course, ESPN will complain. Other owners will complain. But when it the time comes for the Yanks to visit, 29 other teams will look forward to the sell outs and capacity crowds that follow the Bombers on the road. It’s just a fact of baseball life, and no one should criticize or excuse a team that has money and knows how to spend it.