March 14, 2002

Look who's gearing up to buy another World Series...: "While baseballís conflicted soul-searching goes on, everyone wrestling with debt limitations and labor showdowns and contraction candidates, the New York Yankees move along in their sunny, pinstriped parallel universe."

posted by owillis to baseball at 04:58 AM - 18 comments

$6 million a year for a pitcher who might not make the rotation (NYTimes).

posted by liam at 10:02 AM on March 14, 2002

The Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, Rangers and others are as offensive at throwing money around as the Yankees are. The Yankees just happen to have history on their side. Giambi didn't grow up idolizing the center fielder for the Expos! This is the oldest, stalest story in all of Sports.

posted by djacobs at 10:49 AM on March 14, 2002

Boo f@#*king hoo quit ya bitchin, the Yankees used to spend tons of money and not win the world series (think Steve Kemp, Ed Whitson) so they made their mistakes, learned from them, and improved. Popularity good or bad = dollars, and I am grateful George is willing spend money to make money. Lets also remember other teams have tryed to spend to win and failed (Dodgers, Rangers, Baltimore) so money does not equal success, but people will always hate the team on top, no matter what.

posted by jbou at 10:51 AM on March 14, 2002

While not as slap-happy as jbou, I agree. You own a team, you play by the rules, and you do everything you can to win. If that means spending bucks, you spend bucks. If you happen to have a lot bucks, then you take advantage of your situation. I wish the Tribune would follow George's lead and try to win a Championship--not simply squeak out a profit. The owners of the Cubs certainly have the money to challenge George. I don't blame the Yankees; I blame the Tribune. I don't blame the Yankees; I blame the MLB and rules that favor teams like the Yankees. I don't blame the Yankees; I blame the players' Union for demanding rules that favor teams like the Yankees. (Disclosure: I happen to like the Yankees.)

posted by jacknose at 11:23 AM on March 14, 2002

Disclosure: I hate the Yankees. Still, I agree with the above posts. How can you blame them? They want to win and they're willing to do what it takes. Feel free to cry over the state of baseball and the selfishness that keeps things the way they are, but don't cry about the Yankees spending the cash it takes.

posted by 86 at 11:45 AM on March 14, 2002

... the Yankees used to spend tons of money and not win the world series (think Steve Kemp, Ed Whitson) so they made their mistakes, learned from them, and improved. It's not that simple. You can't assume the Yankees are good today just because they got better at spending their money. In the '80s, when it was always entertaining to see Steinbrenner throw his money away on bad free agents, the gap between rich and poor teams wasn't as wide. Salaries were lower, so more teams could compete for the free agents that became available. Today, salaries are so off-the-charts that the Yankees only have to compete with a handful of teams when a great free agent like Giambi becomes available, and no other team can put together a lineup with as many high salaried players as the Yankees. (At least not in the long-term -- teams like Arizona can make a run at them, but eventually the bill comes due.) Over time, it makes a huge competitive difference -- for crying out loud, the Yankees can spend more than $5 million a year on a set up man! (As for the notion that free agents like Giambi choose the Yankees for any reason other than money, endorsements, and a guarantee of numerous trips into the postseason, you gotta be kidding me.)

posted by rcade at 12:15 PM on March 14, 2002

Man, I hate it when they buy the World Series, like they did last year when they got Mussina. Hey, wait a minute... Seriously though, it's not the Yankee big money free-agent signings that wins it for them, it's the talent evaluation and minor league program. Jeter, Williams, Rivera, Pettitte, Posada and Soriano are all products of their minor league system and are considered the core of the team. They have Nick Johnson, Drew Henson, Juan Rivera and (had) D'Angelo Jiminez. That's the future of the New York Yankees, and not some big-dollar signing. When they do spend money, they spend it wisely and that is what annoys the other owners/fans. They don't make stupid signings that teams like Pittsburgh do (Derek Bell and Pat Meares?) That said, I think the Giambi signing is going to blow up in their faces before 2004 is done. They are going to be trapped with his massive contract when they have much better players (at the time) to fill his job (Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, Drew Henson). I really think they could have saved the money and done just as well. I get the feeling that Big George wanted Giambi so that no one else could have him.

posted by grum@work at 12:24 PM on March 14, 2002

Jeter, Williams, Rivera, Pettitte, Posada and Soriano are all products of their minor league system and are considered the core of the team. Having a great minor league program isn't enough, though. You need the money to keep them. The Expos had a talent evaluation and minor league program that was the best in baseball in the early '90s. It just ended up being a farm system for the big-market teams.

posted by rcade at 12:46 PM on March 14, 2002

I agree rcade, but what I think is missed here is that these players (Jeter et al) were originally signed to long term contracts when they were young and in their prime, or weren't arbitration eligible and were willing to take the long term deal. When it came (comes) time to renew contracts, New York decided what is important (Jeter, Williams) and what isn't (Knoblauch, Martinez) and spends the money properly. The Expos didn't even TRY to keep those players they developed. Pedro, Walker and Alou should have been "money is no object" signings, and they should have been able to hold on to at least ONE of them. Instead, they let them go in trades/free agency without even making a real effort. It's all about having a game plan about money, talent and finding the right balance. Oakland has that game plan. Toronto seems to be working towards it. Atlanta used to have it, and the New York teams have it (but with bigger numbers). Texas did the right thing signing ARod to the big deal, but keeps shooting itself in the foot by wasting money on other players.

posted by grum@work at 01:58 PM on March 14, 2002

rcade: Having a great minor league program isn't enough, though. You need the money to keep them. it doesn't take so much money to keep those players, either. look at the athletics and the indians; sign young players to multi-year contracts now rather than have their salaries explode to unmanagable amounts. most players seem to appreciate the $2 million dollar security now that they are willing to lock themselves in for four years at around that mark. the key is not having much money but spending what you've got wisely. with jason giambi, you must keep in mind that the athletics had giambi signed through his prime (27-30). now that giambi's in his '30s, his production is likely to remain stable at best and suffer at worst, with the chances of suffering production and/or injury increasing as each year goes by. giambi's loss is not as great as it could have been; likewise, the yankees gain is not so great as some would hope. i expect that when giambi's age limits his effectiveness in the field beyond a point, torre will DH him and place johnson at 1B. grum: is it just me, or wasn't the braves drafts much better when bobby cox was at the helm in the front office? in the early '90s, when cox was doing work as a GM for the braves some years before, they'd had chipper jones (his last 1st round pick as GM i believe), dave justice, tom glavine, steve avery, and swiped john smoltz from the tigers. schuerholz has had some success, particularly in latin america, but otherwise i think he's been a disappointment.

posted by moz at 02:22 PM on March 14, 2002

More owners should be like Big George. (Hey, maybe we can convince Mark Cuban to be a baseball fan and move to Kansas City!) It's the owners who don't care at all about their teams that are the bigger problem with baseball. (Of course, if all owners were like George, we'd have billion dollar a year players. But that's a different problem.) It's already been pointed out that the Yankees are where they are because they spend their loads of money wisely. They don't have millions tied up in MIke Lansing and Darren Oliver and other dead weight. Not to pick on one specific team here, but last season the Sox started the season with a higher payroll than the Yankees. Yet I often hear Boston fans making the same "buy a title" complaints. If they made all their decisions as wisely as they did with the Nomar signing (getting him early and cheap), then maybe those fans wouldn't be complaining. RCade, you're right about Giambi's motivations, of course. I'm still waiting for the day when a player clearly puts winning first and takes LESS money for the chance to come to a team with a great shot at winning. I like to think that if I was a baseball star, I'd take 10 million and a chance every year over 12 million on a bad team... I guess that last paragraph was a not very strongly worded way of saying that people should blame the players, not Steinbrenner. The man has the drive to win and the resources to make his team better.

posted by Bernreuther at 03:07 PM on March 14, 2002

there is a relevant article on the Yankee's winning pct. and its spending on Baseball Prospectus.

posted by moz at 03:20 PM on March 14, 2002

Mark Cuban shows that even in a league with capped salaries, all owners are not created equal. I give the Yankees credit for some of their success, but I don't think there's any way this phenomenal string they are on happens without all that money. Ten years ago, if the Yankees and Expos traded their entire ownership, front office, and minor league system to each other, does anyone believe the Expos would've been the ones to establish permanent residency in the Fall Classic the past five years?

posted by rcade at 03:50 PM on March 14, 2002

Bernreuther: There are players that decide that winning is more important than money. Paul O'Neill and Scott Brosius could have easily signed 3mil/4mil-a-year contracts with a losing team (*cough* Tampa *cough*) and extended their careers a year or two. However, since it couldn't be with the Yankees (who had informed them they were going with other options) they decided to retire instead. If the Yankees had offered to let them stay with the team for $2mil/year, I bet they would have taken it. I respect that decision, but let us see what happens in May when a team like Atlanta is looking for a 1B or Anaheim needs a DH. The lure of "one more season" might pull them back in. After all, retiring isn't permanent nowadays.

posted by grum@work at 03:52 PM on March 14, 2002

rcade: of course the Yankees have an advantage on the Expos. But Montreal is as big a city as Arlington, or Cleveland or Oakland! I hate the Yankees more than anyone on spofi. I promise I do. However, they win because they're better, not because they cheat. Also, I'm sure other teams (The Mets, at least) were willing to pay more to Giambi than the Yankees - but Giambi has wanted to be a Yankee since he was a little boy. Would he want to be a Yankee had his brother slid home last year and the A's had upset the Mariners? We'll never know. But he sure didn't sign with the D-backs either.

posted by djacobs at 04:01 PM on March 14, 2002

rcade: Ten years ago, if the Yankees and Expos traded their entire ownership, front office, and minor league system to each other, does anyone believe the Expos would've been the ones to establish permanent residency in the Fall Classic the past five years? Don't forget, when the work stoppage occurred in 1994, the Yankees and the Expos were the top teams in their respective leagues. It looked very likely that the Expos were going to go to the World Series. If they do, and they win, then maybe we aren't having this discussion. Maybe more fans show up. Maybe they pay Walker and Alou the money they want (Pedro was only making 200k at the time) because they have a winner and want to keep winning. Who knows? At least they could have tried to make a winner. They didn't. They gave up. They threw up their hands and announced they couldn't compete (a cry now taken up by Bud Selig...way to promote baseball, you moron). All I know is that back in 1988 the Mariners, Indians and Braves were in the same position as Montreal is now: ridiculously low attendance (last, 3rd last and last respectively in their league) and terrible teams. What did they do? They fixed themselves. Maybe it took a new management philosophy and/or a new stadium, but they got better. Now they are drawing more than enough fans (1st, 3rd and 6th respectively) and are competitive (all made the playoffs). Montreal didn't have to be this way. Oakland is showing everyone that it still doesn't have to be that way (second lowest payroll in the majors last year and they had the second best record in the majors). Personally, I'd love to see them do it again and have Bud squirm in his throne.

posted by grum@work at 04:31 PM on March 14, 2002

Oakland won't be back this season, because they just lost their best player and clubhouse leader. I don't think the Yankees win because they cheat -- it's not cheating in baseball to drive a truck full of money to free agents. However, baseball is as far from an equal playing field today as it has ever been. I'm a lifelong Texas Rangers fan, and if they win the Series I'll be so happy I immediately disclaim any interest in salary caps or other equalization changes. However, if they do win one, the biggest reason will be owner Tom Hicks' money.

posted by rcade at 07:31 AM on March 15, 2002

Oakland won't be back this season, because they just lost their best player and clubhouse leader. according to BP, giambi's replacement (Carlos Pena) had a minor league Equivalent Average of .310 and would have had a major league EqA of .264 had he played a full year in the majors last year. i expect something league average or better this year, and for a first basemen, "league average" looks pretty good on the back of a baseball card. don't be so quick to dismiss Oakland.

posted by moz at 11:23 AM on March 15, 2002

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