Biz Notes: It’s good to be the richest

It’s not quite breaking news to announce that the Yanks are Major League Baseball’s most valuable team, but when Forbes announced its club valuations on Wednesday, the numbers were staggering. Not only are the Yanks Major League Baseball’s top franchise, but they are by a whopping 86 percent.

The Yankees, says Forbes, are worth $1.7 billion while the Red Sox are number two at $912 million. The Yankees allegedly generate over $427 million in revenue and turn an annual profit of $25.7 million. Nice work if you can get it, eh? Coming in last on the list are the Pittsburgh Pirates with the A’s and Rays right behind them.

Fans of the Bombers don’t need Forbes valuations to drive home the lucrative nature of business in the Bronx, but these figures — estimates because baseball doesn’t open its books — certainly contextualize the revenue stream. In fact, no other team even approaches the Yanks’ revenue figures as Boston earns $272 million annually. Just to compete with the Yankees, the Sox lost $1.1 million last year.

When we sort the list by operating income though, the Yankees slip a few places to seventh, and the teams ahead of them are mostly surprising. The Padres and Nationals lead baseball operating income; both clubs top $35 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The Marlins and A’s, two clubs that earned headlines for raking in the dough without investing on the field, both made over $20 million in income last year.

In a blog post on the valuations, Forbes senior editor Kurt Badenhausen discussed the Yanks’ financial edge. He writes:

Yankee Global Enterprises is a three-engine money-making machine. The baseball team generated $325 million in revenue from regular-season tickets and luxury suites in 2010. Sponsorship revenue at the stadium is $85 million annually thanks to deals with PepsiCo, Bank of America, MasterCard, Delta Air Lines and others.

The YES Network, the team’s 34%-owned regional sports channel, is the most profitable RSN in the country and had over $400 million in revenue last year. The Yankees own a stake in Legends Hospitality Management, which manages stadiums, and generates $25 million in operating income. The enterprise value for the Yankees, YES and Legends is $5.1 billion.

In a sense, that certainly begs a question: Should the Yankees be at all worried about a budget? The numbers suggest that perhaps they shouldn’t, but the numbers don’t illuminate internal pressures both from within the organization or from the Commissioner’s Office.

Baseball’s Debt Bombs

In addition to the franchise valuations, Forbes also unveiled an extensive piece on debt disasters within baseball. Nathan Vardi and Monte Burke rehash the stories concerning the Dodgers and Rangers, focus a bit on the Mets and highlight the cash-starved Diamondbacks and Padres as well. Owning a baseball team is a sound long-term investment, but turning a profit and winning is no sure thing outside of the Bronx.

Jeter’s jersey still sells

The 2011 season will be Derek Jeter‘s 16th as a full-time player, and yet, his jersey still sells like hotcakes. As Major League Baseball announced yesterday, Derek’s No. 2 is the most popular choice among fans purchasing Majestic jerseys. A-Rod (9) and Mark Teixeira (11) are the only other Yanks in the top 20, and somehow, Jacoby Ellsbury‘s jersey ranked 16th last year. Joe Mauer, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee rounded out the top five last year.

Yankees cut three more from Major League camp

Via Marc Carig, the Yankees have reassigned Steve Garrison, Ryan Pope, and Eric Wordekemper to minor league camp. The first two are on the 40-man roster, so they were optioned down. I could be wrong, but I believe there are now 36 players left in big league camp, not counting the injured Frankie Cervelli, Reegie Corona, and Colin Curtis. Manny Banuelos is still there, which is kinda surprising.

MRI reveals oblique strain for Granderson

Update (8:18pm): Apparently Granderson did have an MRI after all. Marc Carig reports that it revealed an oblique strain, which is obviously some pretty crummy news. Grandy downplayed the injury, comparing it to Joba Chamberlain‘s recent oblique strain, but even that kept the right-hander on he shelf for ten days. It’s possible the Yankees won’t have their center fielder for Opening Day, but hopefully he won’t miss much more than that.

4:30pm: Via Chad Jennings, it sounds like Joe Girardi is cautiously optimistic about Curtis Granderson‘s oblique injury. “I believe there’s a chance he’s going to play Opening Day,” said the skipper. ‘Now, I haven’t talked to [Gene Monahan] yet about all the tests he’s been through, but I believe he’s got a chance to play Opening Day.” Grandy went through a series of tests today but not an MRI, so the full extent of the injury is being determined.

Opening Day is next Thursday but is just an arbitrary deadline. If Grandy isn’t healthy by then and misses the first three or five or ten games of the season, so be it. A handful of games now is better than a lot of games later should he rush back and re-aggravate it somehow.

ST Game Thread: A Familiar Lineup

Joe Biden offered advice about leveraging relief pitchers, foreign policy. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

As the Yankees run on the clock on their Grapefruit League schedule, Joe Girardi has been tinkering with the lineup somewhat, most notably hitting Brett Gardner leadoff. He’s done that the last few days, but Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher are back in the one-two slot today. Why? Because there’s a lefty on the mound; the Blue Jays are throwing Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo Jo-Jo Reyes. I’ll talk more about this setup tomorrow, but tonight we’ll get to see it in action. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Nick Swisher, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robbie Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, DH
Andruw Jones, LF
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, CF

Available Pitchers: Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Luis Ayala, Steve Garrison, Eric Wordekemper, Ryan Pope, Buddy Carlyle, and Josh Schmidt.

Available Position Players: Gustavo Molina (C), Brandon Laird (1B), Ronnie Belliard (2B), Ramiro Pena (SS), Eduardo Nunez (3B), Jordan Parraz (LF), Melky Mesa (CF), and Greg Golson (RF).

Tonight’s game will be aired on MLB Network in all markets, they confirmed that the game will not be blacked out in the Tri-State Area via Twitter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET, so enjoy.

Roster Notes: Laird, Golson, Parraz, Jose Gil, Jorge Vazquez, and Kevin Russo have all been reassigned to minor league camp. Golson being sent probably means that Justin Maxwell beat him out for the potential fifth outfielder’s job, should one be needed.

Yankees claim Jose Ortegano

Via Marc Carig, the Yankees have claimed left-hander Jose Ortegano off waivers from the Braves and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton. The 23-year-old from Venezuela made 20 starts for Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate last year, pitching to a 4.56 FIP in 103 IP. He was not among their top 30 prospects in the 2011 edition of Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, but he ranked 25th in 2010. “His fastball sits 86-88 mph and occasionally touched 90,” they said. “He also has a plus curveball and locates his changeup with precision … his ultimate role may be as a crafty left-handed reliever.”

Given Pedro Feliciano’s bothersome triceps and Boone Logan‘s nagging injury filled camp, it doesn’t hurt to have another lefty around to stash in Triple-A. Ortegano’s nothing special, but certainly not useless.

The RAB Radio Show: March 23, 2011

Today we’re talking Jorge Posada. Earlier this afternoon I wrote about what it would take for the Yankees to bring back Posada in 2012. But for the podcast we’re taking a look at expectations. Posada faces many changes this season, which makes it tough to project how he’ll perform in his new role.

Podcast run time 25:26

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
  • Listen in your browser by left clicking the above link or using the embedded player below.
  • Subscribe in iTunes. If you want to rate us that would be great. If you leave a nice review I’ll buy you a beer at a meet-up.

Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

What would it take to bring back Jorge?

(Kathy Willens/AP)

At the time it seemed like a horrible but necessary contract. Following the 2007 season, during which he hit .338/.426/.543, the Yankees had little choice but to re-sign Jorge Posada. It was going to be a risk move no matter how many years they gave him. Catchers don’t age well, and Posada had turned 36 in August of 2007. But he had again shown that he ranked among the league’s best offensive catchers, and the Yankees had few alternatives. Add in a little pressure from the Mets, and it becomes a four-year, $52.4 million contract that would run through Posada’s age-39 season.

In many ways the contract worked out, at least in relative terms. Posada’s offense helped power the 2009 Yankees to a World Series title, and he provided above average offensive numbers in 2010. He didn’t require a move to DH until the final year of the deal, which, at the time he signed the contract, would have been considered a positive outcome. At the same time there are plenty of negatives. After voiding the DL for his entire career Posada missed most of the 2008 season with a shoulder injury, and then missed time in both 2009 and 2010. His offensive numbers also took a dip in 2010, not a good sign for any older player, let alone a catcher.

Now entering the final year of his contract, Jorge has something else to prove. As he told the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan, he wants to play next year. That won’t happen, of course, without a solid performance in 2011. Yet even with a solid performance I’m not sure the Yankees would want Posada back in a full-time capacity. It’s not just based on him, but rather is based on the team’s plans for the DH spot down the road. There just might not be room for a permanent DH — well, a 40-year-old one, at least.

In discussing the relationship between David Ortiz and the Red Sox, Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal makes a point about the Yankees. “The Sox, like the Yankees, are itching to abandon a full-time DH and initiate a rotation at that position, the better to keep older veterans fresh,” he writes. We’ve heard this line for years, but in 2012 it could become a greater necessity. Alex Rodriguez specifically might need more time at DH. And then there’s that 21-year-old phenom who might or might not have a position.

Montero indeed will dictate what the Yankees do with the DH spot in 2012. They continue to insist that he can catch — at an above-average level, no less — in the majors. Yet they continue to be the only entity that professes this belief. If things don’t work out and indeed Montero is not capable of catching every day at the major league level, they Yankees will have to find some spot for his bat. That could very well be at DH, perhaps with him also serving as the backup catcher. That would provide spots for A-Rod to DH, both on Montero’s catching days and on his days off.

All of this assumes, of course, that Posada produces during his first season of offense-only duty. It stands to reason that he could. Previously his bat was never a question. It was only his defense, both in terms of his skill behind the plate and the toll constant squatting took on his body. Now that he is afforded the opportunity to focus on his greatest strength, his bat, he might prove he has more left in the tank. To the argument that he has poor career numbers as a DH, remember that he often takes a turn at DH when he’s banged up and cannot catch. That factors in heavily to any drop-off when he doesn’t play defense.

The Yankees thankfully have an entire year to determine whether they’d like to keep Posada around. But given their future team needs, the match doesn’t seem likely. If the Yankees need the DH spot for A-Rod and Montero, they simply might not have enough at-bats for Posada. It would be odd to see him in another uniform, but if he wants to keep playing beyond this season it might become a reality.