When the Yanks on the World Series in 1998, they did so with a $73-million payroll. Despite the then-lofty price tag, the Yanks finished behind the $74-million, fourth-place Orioles in the payroll wars. That historic season would be the last time the Yanks lost that battle.
Ten years later, the Yanks are coming off a season that saw their payroll balloon to $218.3 million, nearly $70 million higher than the most expensive team to ever win a World Series. Brian Cashman, who is part of a Front Office that just doled out the most expensive contract in history and high-ticket deals to two other star players, now says that the bloat has to stop:
“We are high,” Yankees GM Brain Cashman said in an interview with ESPN 1050 New York’s Andrew Marchand. “If I could get our payroll lower [I would]. It is not going to happen — not this year. But we have, at the end of the year, a lot of numbers coming off. The combination of building our farm system and getting our salary lines back to where they probably need to be. That’s a process, too, and that takes some time. I’m not particularly proud that we have the highest payroll in the game.
“I just don’t think you are going to get the type of bang for your buck at the type of dollars that you are paying.”
For some Yankee fans, their instant reaction to this quote will be one of concern. The vaunted Yankees are going to enter a rebuilding period? No way, how how.
But what Cashman is saying actually makes perfect sense. With the farm system coming due at the same time a lot of contracts are coming off the books, the Yanks have the cheap, good pieces to plug in to the right holes. At the same time, with a lot of albatross-like contracts — Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth — coming due, the Yanks can use that money to snatch up the right pieces.
NoMaas likes to say that if they had $200 million to spend, the Yanks would never lose. If Brian Cashman is true to his word and the Yanks’ brass don’t overreact this season, we may finally get to see what happens when the Yanks put together a well-constructed $180-million machine instead of a $200-million bloated roster.
Had some minor technical issues with our host, but all is good now. Sorry for the downtime. Too bad that hot blonde chick that was showing up instead of the regular site didn’t stick around.
Peter Abraham reports that Jason Giambi is supposedly in great shape and ready to play this year. Why? Well, because it’s his walk year, of course. Giambi, who’s had three and a half good years and two and a half terrible years on the Yanks, is playing out his age 37 season and could sign another two-year deal with some team if he proves he can still hit this year. While he probably won’t be in the Bronx in 2009, I’ll take a good 2008 from him. · (24) ·
Says Hank: “We’re one of the five best, and no nobody really knows who’s better than who at this point. There’s Detroit, Boston, Cleveland, there’s Anaheim, and there might be a couple others as well. … With (Johan) Santana, we’d be the favorite right now. I’d like to win it this year. But we had a chance, and it will only get better.”
While WasWatching.com says Hank is expressing some Santana remorse, it seems to me that Hank recognizes that the future will “only get better” with the Big Three around. Considering Hank was long the one who pushed hard for Santana, this is a welcome change of heart from one of the guys in charge.
Congressman and Chair of the House Oversight Committee Henry Waxman regrets holding Wednesday’s hearing. “I think Clemens and McNamee both came out quite sullied, and I didn’t think it was a hearing that needed to be held in order to get the facts out about the Mitchell report,” Waxman said.
Had Waxman been serious about holding a hearing on the real issue — the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in baseball — he would have. But Clemens and McNamee made for better headlines and more attention. This is fake regret from another phony politician. And the specter of an incomplete Mitchell Report looms large as well. · (9) ·
Those of you with ESPN Insider access, or who have talked to the three of us this morning, might have heard about Rob Neyer’s piece today, in which he pimps the Save The Big Three t-shirts. Well, that got us to thinking. Phil and IPK have changed their numbers. Of course, I’ll still wear my shirt with pride — it was the spirit of the times that drove and continues to drive them, not some numeral on the back of a jersey.
Anyway, we’ve decided to update the shirts for anyone interested. You can head to our our store and check out the new gray offering, or you can go straight there. It’s the same idea, just a little changed, since our mission was accomplished.
Pictures after the jump. And many, many thanks to all of you who have bought and who will buy these shirts. The three of us will be sure to flag down anyone wearing the shirts at the Stadium this year.
Remember when Roger Clemens came back in 2007 and Suzyn Waldman flipped her lid? It was “of all the dramatic things she has ever said,” the Roger Clemens return seemed to take the cake. Well, she sure does look foolish now, huh? In fact, I was at that game and the 50,000 of us that stood and gave Clemens a standing ovation probably look equally foolish. Our reaction wasn’t immortalized in audio. Meanwhile, Bob Raissman of the Daily News caught up with Waldman in the aftermath of this week’s hearings. Waldman gives the typical canned answers, but lest we forget, it was indeed dramatic. · (31) ·
In a rather amusing piece on The Times’ Bats blog, Jack Curry details how he broke the uniform news to Paul O’Neill. When told that someone new would be wearing 21, Paul handled himself quite diplomatically. He ran into the dugout and chucked his bat, batting gloves, helmet and the Gatorade cooler onto the field. Wait. Just kidding. In reality, he cautioned against expecting one’s number to be retired. “You don’t ever take anything like that for granted,” he said. · (13) ·
It’s no secret around here that I am no fan of Mike Mussina’s. While he has put up some huge seasons for the Yanks and has turned in some stellar games over the years, I’ve long questioned his desire and drive on the mound.
Too many times, I’ve seen Mike Mussina grow flustered with his fielders after an error or with his pitches after he doesn’t get a close call from an umpire. Too many times, I’ve seen Mussina squander away a lead because he’s just given up. Maybe it’s his drive for perfection just manifesting itself; maybe it’s 3000+ Big League innings coming home to roost.
But whatever the cause or the symptoms, something about Mike Mussina just rubs me the wrong way.
So enter Andy Pettitte and the HGH/Mitchell Report scandal. In discussions with the media yesterday, Mike Mussina shared his thoughts on the topic. Generally, he was very supportive of Andy but realistic. Pettitte, Mussina said, will face some trying times this season, especially when he pitches in Boston and if he struggles out of the gate. But the best part was Mussina’s money quote.
“However it happens, he has to be able to go out there and pitch,” Mike Mussina said of Pettitte. “He has to find a way to deal with it. I don’t think he will be able to do his job properly if he has to answer questions all season long.”
So many times over the last three seasons, I’ve yelled at the TV with Mussina on the mound. I’ve pled, begged, shouted and just plain stated: Mike Mussina has to find a way to deal with it. Sure, Jeter made a bad throw, Giambi made a bad scoop, the pitch was on the black. But just deal with it.
I got a chuckle out of Mussina’s quote today, and then I thought to myself, “Hey, Mike, take your own advice. It’s for the good of the team too.”