Friday, January 20, 2012

The Yankees "Buying" Championships

I have always just ignored the ignorance, in my opinion, and the blatant hate because it seems to be the "cool" thing to do when it comes to the Yankees and the number of championships that they have won in their storied history. Now I'm 26 years old so I'm not even going to try and defend the Yankees when they used the A's and the Royals as their personal farm systems and were winning 3 and 4 championships in a row and all that, all I am going to touch on is the most recent years.

The common misconception is that the Yankees set their sights on a guy and a few weeks later he is having a press conference in Yankee stadium. While George Steinbrenner was alive, especially in the early 2000's, this was most definitely the case. The Yankees had a lower payroll then the BALTIMORE ORIOLES when they had their historic season in 1998 winning 114 games and the World Series. In 2008 the Yankees payroll had more then tripled, going above 200 million dollars, and only had 3 World Series in that span to show of it.

The thing that always bothers me is the baseball fan that hates the Yankees just because, again, its the "cool" thing to do. While NO ONE can argue that under George Steinbrenner the Yankees did not set their sites on "their" guy and go out and get him... but those same fans have not been paying attention to the Yankees since George Steinbrenner's health got progressively worse and he left baseball operations to his 2 sons Hank and Hal Steinbrenner. He also have total control to GM Brian Cashman when it came to acquiring and drafting players, something that was long overdue. Why do these fans completely ignore the last 3 seasons under the "new" regime and continue to say the Yankees just "buy their championship."?

Lets look at the 2009 spending spree but first lets look at the Yankees 2008 salary numbers, seen here. The Yankees sat at $209,000,000 at opening day 2008. The Yankees had a less then stellar season in their last season in Yankee Stadium and under Joe Girardi missing the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons. The Yankees proceeded that offseason to give huge contracts to CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Texeira, and traded for Nick Swisher. These "fans" I speak of went to their local forums, bars, jobs, schools, etc screaming "those damn Yankees buying another championship" and all that. The Yankees did, in fact, "buy" that championship in 2009... but their salary on opening day of 2009 after this shopping spree was $201,000,000, seen here. The Yankees spent money, signed 3 big time free agents and traded for another and actually LOWERED their payroll.

Let's get back to the Yankees seeing "their" man and getting him by any means necessary. If that were the case would Cliff Lee not be wearing pinstripes right now? Matt Holliday in 2010? CJ Wilson this offseason? Hell WE even walked away from the Johan Santana negotiations because they were just too much. The Yankees did sign Rafael Soriano in 2010 with closer money to be a 7th inning man, granted, but protected themselves with many opt out clauses for Rafael Soriano.  The Yankees are going to spend their money, but other teams do too. While the Yankees have had the highest payroll in all of baseball for a good many of years now the spending has really plateaued while the gap between the highest spender (the Yankees) and the 2nd highest spender has been getting closer and closer. Looking here you can see how the spending has gone down between the Yankees and the next closest spender over the last 10 seasons.  Using the same time period of 2009-Present the Yankees spent 65 million more dollars then the 2nd highest spending team(The Mets) coming in at $201,000,000. In 2010 the Yankees  payroll rose to $206,000,000 and the 2nd highest spending team (The Red Sox) spent 44 million dollars less then the Yankees. In 2011 the Yankees were back down to $201,000,000 while the Phillies were a mere 25 million dollars behind the Yankees in spending.

Speaking of the Phillies, no one mentions the Phillies trying to "buy" championships. I wonder why that is... Oh yeah, because it didnt work for them. It makes it ok to "buy" players and "buy" paper championships for other teams but not the Yankees? The Phillies have tried their best to buy a championship and no one mentions it seemingly. The Phillies acquired Roy Halladay but we "bought" CC Sabathia. They signed Cliff Lee but we "bought" AJ Burnett. They acquired Roy Oswalt but we "bought" Michael Pineda. They acquired Hunter Pence in his prime but we "bought" Nick Swisher. Then again Ruben Amaro Jr is no Theo Epstein...

Theo Epstein, speaking of him, broke the Red Sox curse and won not 1 but 2 World Series as his tenure as a GM in bean town. How did he do that? He "bought" players just as much as we have... Remember in 2009 when Theo acquired Victor Martinez and remember when the Yankees "bought" Russell Martin? Remember when he traded for Adrian Gonzalez and remember when we "bought" Mark Teixeira? Remember when Theo signed John Lackey? Remember when Theo signed Carl Crawford? Daisuke Matsuzaka? All of these deals would be considered the Yankees "buying" players and championships while the Yankees won the majority of their World Series titles under the watch of their HOME GROWN players.  I wont even mention this year's Miami Marlins spending spree...

The Yankees payroll is "bloated" because the Yankees actually have loyalty to their players for the most part and keep them in town even at prices they arent "worth". The Red Sox didnt mind whatsoever sending the Manny Ramirez's, Nomar's, Johnny Damon's Roger Clemens, etc away when they werent working out any more. The Yankees kept their Derek Jeter's, their Andy Pettitte's, their Mariano Rivera's, their Jorge Posada's, etc. The Yankees spend money on free agents but they also spend money in their minor league systems, in their draft, and in the international market. Before anyone jumps to say they are still buying players going above cap and signing any and all international free agents (IFA's) go ahead and google the highest spending team in the draft and IFA market over the last three years... Dont worry, Ill wait... The Pirates? Didnt see that one coming did you? So before it is said "well this player was acquired by trade and that player was acquired by trade and the Yankees spent money in free agency" remember that the Yankees are stock piling their minor leaguers since 2009 spending their money more wisely.

We all must remember that we are fans and the people making the decisions for the baseball teams are employees of BUSINESSMEN. Baseball is a BUSINESS first and a hobby second to the people writing the checks. The Yankees have found out that winning, specifically in the playoffs, equals a ton of money for the business. When your team wins a World Series title in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 you tend to sell a lot of tickets, hats , merchandise, etc. When the Yankees went crazy with their spending was when they could.. when they got their own TV Network, the YES Network. The Yankees, year after year, as an organization operate in the red (losing money). They more then make that up with the playoff revenue and their YES network. The Yankees "buying" championships is smart business, and baseball is a business at the end of the day. The Phillies, Red Sox, and Angels (and maybe the Marlins) have all caught on to this concept and are mocking the Yankees concept trying to also cash in without much scrutiny but that is ok... imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say.

Gardner and Yankees agree

Brett Gardner has agreed to a contract with the Yankees for 2012, thus avoiding arbitration. Brett will make $2.8 million, which is mid-way between what both sides filed for (Yanks - $3.2m, Gardner-$2.4m).

The Yankees are minus an option?

Carlos Pena agreed to return to the Rays for $7.25 million. Some say that it's a DH option for the Yankees that's come off the board. Well, I don't think Pena ever was an option. His price range was clearly too much for the Yankees. I'm not saying I totally buy into the idea that they'd only pay up to $2 million for a DH, but I don't think they'd pay that much more. As I said, Pena made $10 million last year for the Cubs while having a good season.