Parking prices up 50% at stadium lots for 2011

Yankee fans who opt to drive to the Bronx next season may find themselves in for a new round of sticker shock. Due to lower-than-expected revenue and the looming threat of default on a bond payment, Bronx Parking Development, the owner of the stadium parking garages, will raise parking rates as much as 50 percent for the 2011 season. Barring an off-season restructuring of the parking lot bonds, a spot in the lots will now cost at least $35 while the valet option will reach $45.

It never made much sense for the city of New York to surround Yankee Stadium with parking lots. Because of the fast, easy and cheap access provided by the IRT and IND subways, relatively few Yankee fans drive to the games as it is, and the new Metro-North stop made transit access that much easier (and cheaper). Yet, even though on-street parking remained an option and the rates at the Gateway Shopping Mall lots are just $10, the city expanded the number of stadium spots from 6500 to 9127 against the wishes of Bronx politicians and community leaders.

The move has been a debacle from the start. This year, for instance, when the Red Sox were in town, BPD reported just 5600 paid costumers. To add insult to injury, New York selected a company with a history of defaulting on bond payments to build the lots.

Last month, I reported that BPD was facing a revenue crisis. Because the company saw just $4.8 million in revenue — half of its initial estimates — BPD was in danger of defaulting on its payments. Parking rates would inevitably have to increase for 2011, and as Juan Gonzalez reports today, that is exactly what’s going to happen. He reports:

Even at [$35 per car], the garages will still fall into a technical default unless two-thirds of bondholders agree to waive some requirements in the original construction bonds.

Bronx Parking barely managed to make a $6.8 million bond payment that was due Oct. 1 and will likely not have enough cash to make its next $6.8 million due in April. Without the waiver, the company warned, it will be forced to charge a minimum of $55 per car next year to avoid a default.

“The truth of the matter is, the whole thing’s a mess,” said one financial adviser to several bondholders. “If the city doesn’t step in, there’s no way Bronx Parking can pay back the money it took to build those garages.”

This story just gets messier and messier as it progresses. The city’s Economic Development Corporation seemingly flushed taxpayer money down the drain in selection Bronx Parking Development as well. They granted the company $237 million in tax-free bonds and gave it $100 million as well. This is money we’re likely never to see returned to New York’s empty coffers.

For now, the bondholders are struggling to restructure the company’s finances in order to avoid a default, but as Gonzalez points out, higher rates will do nothing to stem this financial bleeding. As parking rates go up, more and more fans will choose to reach the stadium via transit.

Bronx officials meanwhile are urging the city to correct this project’s deep flaws. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz wants the city to sell off the excess garage space for “other development projects” that will better benefit the South Bronx area. Said one Bronx politician to the Daily News, “We don’t need a wasteland of empty garages in this borough.”

RAB Live Chat

Trading Joe Girardi

It has happened before, but that doesn’t mean it was a wise decision. After the 2002 season, the Seattle Mariners essentially traded manager Lou Piniella to the Devil Rays for Randy Winn and Antonio Perez. Previously, the A’s traded their manager, Chuck Tanner, for Manny Sanguillen*. I’m not sure exactly why a team would trade a player for a manager, but I’m sure they have their reasons. What I find ridiculous is that a team would trade a 20-year-old top prospect for a manager. Yet the possibility of such a swap has dominated headlines this morning.

*Thanks to Big League Stew for the instant info.

Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Marlins and White Sox discussed a trade that would have sent Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins. It’s no secret that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has long coveted Guillen, who was the third base coach on the Marlins 2003 World Champion team. Who would the Marlins send to Chicago in this scenario? De Luca ends up burying the lede in the seventh paragraph (emphasis mine):

According to major-league sources, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was intent on making Guillen his next manager. Talks, sources say, progressed to the point that there was discussion of executing a trade that would send Guillen, who has a year left on his contract, to the Marlins for 20-year-old outfielder Mike Stanton, who hit 22 home runs and knocked in 59 runs in just 100 games as a rookie this season.

Yes, that’s the Mike Stanton who is one of five players in MLB history to have an ISO of .245 or greater with 375 or more PA at age 20 or younger. (Others: Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson.) It’s the same Mike Stanton who was Baseball America’s No. 3 overall prospect entering the 2010 season. It’s certainly not the Mike Stanton who had two stints with the Yankees. If Loria actually put this on the table — I don’t even want to think about what it would mean if Loria offered it and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf rejected it.

Chances are the story isn’t totally accurate. As Patriot said on Twitter, “If credible, that should be the lead of the article, not Ozzie/Kenny soap opera.” I agree. If there was a real, known offer of Stanton for Guillen, that should have moved right to the top — we can see evidence of this in every subsequent blog post, since they’ve all led with the compensation rather than the drama. Still, it does raise interesting questions. Sky Kalkman asks perhaps the most interesting one: “Who would you trade Joe Girardi for?” But since that covers a large range of players, I’d rephrase it to, “Who is the worst player you’d accept for Girardi?”

A young player or prospect is optimal, since you’d get the most out of him. But most owners and GMs aren’t as crazy as Loria, so I doubt any of them would trade a good prospect or young player for a manager. I would, however, trade Girardi for a Randy Winn, circa 2002, type player. He was 28 that year and has just produced the best wOBA of his career, .360. He could play all three outfield positions as well. He didn’t quite live up to the .360 standard in Seattle, but he still provided them with decent production (114 and 110 wRC+). That would mean someone like Andres Torres. If you’re looking for an infielder it would look more like Casey McGehee, Omar Infante, or Mike Napoli.

Is a player like that — one who produced good numbers in 2010 at a relatively older age — a good trade-off for a manager? I’d say yes. I like Girardi as a manager, but the Yankees fan find someone with comparable on-field skills who can manage the men on the team. It’s essentially a trade of intangibles for tangibles — or at least the hope of tangibles. It’s a tough call, but give me the production and let the front office find a different guy to lead the team.

The theme for the comments is obvious. 1) Would you trade Girardi for the players mentioned above? 2) Who is the type of player for whom you’d trade Girardi.

Mailbag: Montero, Lee, Burnett, A-Rod, DH

Mailbag’s back, and we’re not going to make a whole day out of it either. Just a few questions with some rapid fire answers. If you want to send in some questions in the future, just use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. I’m thinking every Friday morning is a fine time for the mailbag, no? Anyway, on to the questions …

Den asks: Just a thought. Is it a good idea to get Mo back as a pitching coach instead of a player? I thought that would be a good compromise without losing a ‘face’ of the Yankees. Would that even be possible?

No, give me Mariano Rivera as a pitcher every day of the week, he’ll way more valuable to the Yankees that way. Mo’s a great pitcher, one of the greatest that will ever play, but we have no idea about his ability to coach. If they did that, it would be a move based on sentimentality and not evidence of his ability to run a pitching staff.

If you’re talking about after he retires … still no. I suspect he’s the kind of the guy that you won’t see around the ballpark often once he hands ’em up, just during Spring Training and stuff. But that’s just me.

Sean asks: How well does Montero call games? Are there any reports (scouting or otherwise) on this? If his defense (throwing runners out, blocking balls, etc.) is even at the same level of Posada or Cervelli, how can he not be with the club out of spring training (assuming his bat shows up)?

You don’t hear much about how well (or how poorly) minor league catchers call games because not many do it. A lot of times they’re told to focus on the physical aspects of the game as well as their training, and let the coaches call pitches from the bench. Also, a lot of times the pitcher will be working on something, say a changeup, and he’ll be mandated by the organization to throw X number of those pitches per start. There’s no game calling skill or strategy to that, it’s just a pitch for development’s sake. Outcome is meaningless. Long story short, I know nothing about his skills as a game caller.

Montero could probably break camp with the big league team next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they sent him back to Triple-A for a month or two just to keep his service time down. The Yankees have plenty of money, but there are legitimate baseball reasons for Montero to go back down, namely his defense. The service time thing is an added benefit.

Anonymous asks: Who would you take, Wil Myers or Jesus Montero?

Montero, but Myers is awesome. The Royals’ prospect hit .315/.429/.506 with 37 doubles and 14 homers split between High-A and Double-A this year, his age-19 season. He’s just as likely to move out from behind the plate as Montero, probably to the outfield. Montero has more power and is a better pure hitter, but Myers has more plate discipline. They’re both awesome, but I’ll take Hey-Zeus.

AD asks: Any chance that having Lee on the team will help out A.J.? Burnett had his best year in Toronto observing and emulating Halladay’s work habits. A.J. likes Lee…same hometown..and A.J. was inspired to pitch a great critical game 2 in 2009 WS after watching Lee’s shutdown performance against the Yanks in gm 1. Whaddya think?

Eh. It’s all up to Burnett, not the people around him. I mean, yeah, the support system counts, but there’s only so much they can do. He and Lee share an agent and (essentially) a hometown, so maybe it would help more than we realize, but I’m not going to hold my breath. A.J. is what he is at this point of his career.

Anonymous asks: Checkout the numbers: 535 AB, 112 R, 137 H, 40 2B, 1 3B, 29 HR, 104 RBI, .256 AVG. That’s Alex facing a lefty over the last 4 years. I would have thought it would be a lot higher. Any clue why this is?

Yeah, I wish I knew. Here are his wOBA’s vs. LHP since joining the Yankees, starting with 2004 and ending with 2010: .446, .412, .421, .402, .378, .402, .323. His performance really started to suffer in 2008, so perhaps the hip is to blame. Maybe he’s having a tougher time getting to stuff on the outer half, and instead of driving those pitches with authority, he’s tapping them on the ground or popping them up to the outfield. Maybe he’s just getting old, can’t ignore that possibility.

Based on the last few years, even with the bad hip, 2010 looks like a massive outlier, so I’d expect some sort of rebound against southpaws next year. A-Rod‘s just too talented to all of a sudden stop hitting a demographic he’s typically annihilated.

Anonymous asks: Who would be a better DH option for next year, between V-Mart, Dunn, and Berkman? Granted that Dunn “doesn’t want” to be a DH, but he will try to be and the Yanks were interested in him during the trade deadline. V-Mart could give Posada a break at catching, and Tex a break at 1B once a week. Despite V-Mart stinks at catching, Cervelli won’t have to catch 100 games like this season. Simply resigning Berkman, and hope that 2010 season is just bad luck.

Of those three, give me Adam Dunn. He could legitimately hit 50 homers in Yankee Stadium and is always an on-base threat. Victor Martinez might be more useful since he could spot start behind the plate and at first, but he’s pretty awful defensively, not much better than Jorge Posada at all. We know all about Berkman, would be nice if he started hitting lefties though.

I don’t think the Yanks will sign a designated hitter this winter, at least not a big money one like those guys. At some point Montero is going to work his way into the lineup, and they’re going to need that DH spot so he and Posada can rotate. Unless someone like Berkman falls into their laps dirt cheap in February, I think you’ll see Posada, A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Marcus Thames (assuming he re-signs) rotate at DH until Montero forces their hand. If he doesn’t, they’ll probably look for someone at the trade deadline. These kinds of guys are easy to find in July.

Past Trade Review: Mark Wohlers

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Yesterday we broke down the first of two trades Brian Cashman made during the summer of 2001 to overhaul his team’s middle relief corps, and now it’s time to move on to the second.

July 1st: Acquired Mark Wohlers from Cincinnati for minor league Ricardo Aramboles

Of course, whenever Yankee fans hear the name Mark Wohlers they all think back to one moment: 1996 World Series, Game Four, eighth inning, Yanks down by three, Jim Leyritz at the plate. Wohlers gives up that game-tying three-run homer and the Yankees go on the to win the game and eventually the series. That one homer literally changed the course of Yankee franchise history, because if they lose that game and go down three games to one in the series, who knows what happens after that.

Anyway, Wohlers came over from the Reds five years later, still sporting the same high-90’s gas that won him Atlanta’s closing job in the mid-90’s. His performance in Cincinnati was solid but hardly spectacular, a 3.94 ERA with 21 strikeouts and five unintentional walks in 32 innings as Danny Graves’ primary set-up man. Like Witasick, Wohlers got a crack at some high leverage work after the deal.

In his first game with the Yanks, Wohlers threw a scoreless ninth inning against Tampa with the Yanks up by five. Next time out he entered the seventh inning of a two run game with a man on first and two outs against the Orioles, striking out Larry Bigbie to escape the jam. A walk and a single put two men on in the eight, at which point Joe Torre turned to Mariano Rivera for the five out save. Mo allowed one of the inherited runners to score but eventually nailed it down.

Wohlers stranded two inherited runners in the eight inning the next day, but allowed two to come around to score in the ninth, cutting the Yanks lead to 6-3. Mo came in and finished the game off. Wohlers was shaky, and had pretty much lost Torre’s faith when he allowed a total of eight runs across two innings in two consecutive appearances in mid-July. That was the last time he’d see setup work, instead relegated to traditional middle relief and mop-up duty. Wohlers pitched well enough in that role, throwing up a 2.45 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 29.1 innings after that eight-run meltdown in July. From July 20th to September 30th, he never entered a game with the Yankees leading by fewer than five runs.

The Yankees carried Wohlers on their various playoff rosters but he wasn’t used much. In fact he only appeared in one game that postseason, Game Three of the ALCS when the Mariners torched Orlando Hernandez and Mike Stanton for eight runs in five-and-a-third innings. Wohlers took over for Stanton with a man on third and one out in the sixth, and the first batter he faced (Bret Boone) took him deep. He allowed two more runs to score in the seventh before giving the ball over to Witasick. The Yanks lost that game 14-3, and Wohlers wouldn’t throw another pitch until Spring Training.

(AP Photo/Chris Garnder)

As for the Reds, well they got basically nothing out of Aramboles. He never reached the big leagues, appearing in just four games above Double-A. His back story is somewhat interesting though; he originally signed with the Marlins in 1996 but the deal was voided when it turned out he was just 14-years-old. The Yanks swooped in and signed him two years later and he gradually climbed the minor league ladder (Tommy John surgery cost him a big chunk of the 1999 season, however). Aramboles was a solid yet unspectacular pitching prospect easily overlooked in a stacked farm system (yes, the Yanks’ system was one of the very best in the game back then), sporting a 3.82 ERA with 7.12 K/9 and 2.24 BB/9 in 92.1 innings at the time of the trade. He was just 19-years-old and barely out of A-ball however, so there was reason for optimism.

Anyway, Aramboles suffered another elbow injury in 2002, then missed the entire 2003 season after tearing his labrum. His return in 2004 wasn’t pretty, and he’s now been out of affiliated baseball for more than half-a-decade. The Reds got just 158.2 minor league innings out of him after the deal.

It’s tough to call this one a win for the the Yankees but it kinda sorta was. Wohlers gave them 0.1 bWAR in 31 appearances while the Reds got nothing out of Aramboles and didn’t even receive much in the way of payroll relief; Wohlers was only making $500,000 that year. He didn’t give them that setup righthander they were looking for, but Wohlers was pigeon-holed into a role where he didn’t cost them any games during the majority of his tenure in pinstripes. All he did was soak up innings in low-leverage spots at a low cost. Not a trade to write home about, but certainly not a disaster.

Open Thread: World Series Game Two

Barry once hit .362/.609/.812 with 232 walks and 41 strikeouts in a single season. True story. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

What did you all think of last night’s game? I thought it was pretty exciting actually, at least until the Giants started to pull away at the end. Though watching Vlad Guerrero play defense in rightfield bordered on hilarious and unwatchable. Knocking around Cliff Lee is no small feat, but San Fran’s hacktastic approach might not work so well against C.J. Wilson since he throws so many pitches out of the zone. Matt Cain is the better pitch on paper, but he might get outdone in this one because his teammates kinda suck.

Anyway, here’s your thread for the game. If you’re too heartbroken over the Yankees not being in the Fall Classic and can’t bear to watch, then go ahead and talk about something else then. Anything goes. Enjoy.

Oh, one small site note: We did some rearranging, and the commenting guidelines are now a pull-down from the “About” button in the nav bar above (under the street sign). Read them if you haven’t, or refresh your memory if you already have.