Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yankees Signings- It's Good for Baseball- TPC's Take

Once again the Yankees turned the baseball world upside down, with their covert maneuvers in signing Mark Teixeira, the premier offensive free agent player of the 2008-09 offseason.
Until the deal was inked, most had been led to believe Teixeira was contemplating the Nationals offer of between $174M-$185M (and whether they would be able to sign other big names to form a competitive team in the Nations Capital) or the Boston offer, presumed to be anywhere from $20-$24M a year for 6 years.
Well, when we all heard the news the Yankees came in- basically out of nowhere- to ink the star first baseman, shock waves were sent throughout the baseball and sports world.
The Yankees now have the 4 largest contracts in Baseball (Jeter, Arod, Sabathia and now Teixiera). There is growing sentiment and concern that they are ruining the game and now small market teams "really" can't compete. My question is, why all of a sudden now? What is different today then yesterday? Let's analyze.
The Yankees always went after the big names and the big contracts. In years past, they made big mistakes. They signed pitchers to big contracts that were past their prime (Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson) or unproven-especially from a health perspective (Jarret Wright and the Infamous Carl Pavano). The offensive players they signed had similar issues (Giambi and Damon). You can make a very good case that Cashman has done a horrible job in his assessment of free agent pitchers. The only big name free agent who was in his prime that was signed over this time period was Mussina (a deal that worked out just fine for the Yanks). Every other signing was either for a pitcher in his mid 30's or who had major health risks.
This years signings- at least the Sabathai and Teixiera signings- were different in that both are young, in their primes, and have never had health issues. These were great signings. You lock up a top 3 ML picther at age 28, who has pitched in big games- and pitched well, and the games best all around First Baseman, also at age 28. The Burnett signing actually is similar to the ones mentioned above, a 32 year old pitcher who has had basically 3 healthy years in his career- all walk years. The only reason that the Burnett signing can be seen as a positive to TPC is he is essentially the #4 starter in terms of talent and major league success (I would take CC, Wang and Joba over him easily). With the pressure being off, maybe he avoids the issues that Pavano, Brown, Johnson, etc have endured by being a savior to the staff. That falls to Sabathia and it says here, C.C. will be just fine in that role. With the being said, TPC would have spent that money elsewhere (and not Derrek Lowe either).
Next major falsehood being spewed in various circles is the Yankees are blowing up the salary structure of baseball and makes the divide between small and large market much larger. This is completely false. The Yankees payroll as currently constituted for 2009 is actually 10% LOWER than in 2008. Basically, the Yankees traded Giambi's $23M 2008 salary for Teixiera's $23M 2009 salary. A great trade by anyone's estimation. They traded Mussina ($12m) Pavano (13M) Pettite ($16M) for Burnett and Sabathia. They still have about $25M left to spend on one more pitcher and for reserve. TPC suggests if Pettite doesn't want the $10M, go with a rotation of CC, Wang, Burnett, Joba and either Hughes or Kennedy. I think Hughes will turn out to be a very viable top of the rotation guy and his salary structure keeps the Yankees somehwhat cost effective for 3 of their current spots (Wang makes $6m this year and Joba and Hughes are under a million each). What the Yankees did was sign all their big deals in one season, rather than stagger them as they had in years past. It was also the smarter move, as the Yankees now have a core IF of Arod-Tex-Jeter and Cano, with Jeter being the oldest at 34 and a pitching staff of 5 under 32 (Burnett being the oldest at 32). They just got much better and much younger with the 3 signings with a smaller payroll than that in 2008.
The Yankees also just paid $26M to a luxury tax that goes partly to the smaller market teams. I don't see the Royals or Pirates giving that back. Nor do I see anyone complain when the Yankees are in town and their attendance rockets-thereby selling more tickets, merchandise, food, etc. The Yanks led MLB last year with an average attendance of 44,131 fans per game- a far cry from the Marlins and their 25,000. If the Yankees weren't the "Damn Yankees" those road attendance numbers would not be where the are. The Yankees (and the Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, Dodgers) being good is good for Baseball. It drives attendance, interest, TV rights, merchandising, etc. It makes money for baseball. It's like the economy. It's good when people get rich. It gives opportunity to the people the rich support. If the rich are doing poorly, their businesses have cuts, people lose jobs, they spend less, the circle goes round, etc. (as we see in todays economy). The Yankees outspending and making a big media splash is good for the small market teams. As Buster Olney reported earlier- "And they do have defenders even among the small-market teams. "They just got a luxury tax bill of $26.9 million, didn't they?" another AL official asked rhetorically. "They always pay, don't they? The other teams cash their checks, don't they?" "The Yankees are great for baseball, just like the Red Sox and the Cubs are great for baseball, because they generate interest and they generate money for all of us. Today, somebody is going to pick up a paper overseas and there will be something in there on the Yankees' signing of Teixeira. Do you think that would happen if there was some trade between small-market teams? People pay attention to the Yankees, and that's good for our sport." Exactly.
The last major point, is the Texiera signing actually improves their current investements in other players. Arod's worth just gets increased by having a great hitter (a switch hitter nonetheless) hitting in front of him. It makes his current contract more valuable. Teixeira is the best hitter since Sheffield to hit in front of him and that was an MVP season for Arod (which it says here, he will win it again this season). He also takes some of the media spotlight away from Arod, which can only help. He makes the rest of the lineup more powerful. He also makes the defense stronger and increases the value of Arod, Jeter and Cano's defense. It's a no brainer move- a far cry from the defensive liability that is Giambi.
The Yankees spending hasn't change one bit. The only difference is, they are spending it smarter, which makes them better, which is better for baseball.


Ducks said...

Nowhere in TPC's diatribe does he mention that he happens to be a Yankees fan. Curious. TPC also nowhere indicates or gives fair pause to my stance, a small part of which was posted on another (private) msg board and to which TPC is responding to here. And I am FAR from a yankee hater. I'm just a grown up kid who loved baseball.
And TPC's post here was in partial response to my long term issues with baseball's structure NOT THE YANKEE'S maneuvers. I think the yankees are great and that what they do is great. I wish my team tried as hard as the yankees do. Unlike what TPC started his argument with, I don't think anything changed at all with "this" particular signing. If TPC were being more honest he would tell you that I've always killed, destroyed the structure mlb has. It's not a real sport. This signing is no different at all. Only in magnitude but that's not my argument at all. My argument is that a sport without an even playing field is not just unfair, it's a joke. And it's not a real sport. It would be like Tennis mixing men and women together. The NBA and WNBA merging. Lightweights in the same division as heavyweights. American competitive sports is historically and morally based on this very premise. Is it a coincidence that as MLB has gone further and further away from this that the NFL --the absolute MODEL for professional sports- has not only thrived but completely overtaken baseball as the american sport? TPC doesn't even touch this issue because he's not being intellectually honest here. He's a Yankee fan, and it insults our intelligence to hear why the yankees uneven playing advantage is actually good for the rest of the sport. I would venture to argue even so far as to say that baseball may no loner even qualify as a competitive american sport. It's become a caricature of itself and TPC the yankee fan has enveloped TPC the baseball fan, which is really sad. If TPC the baseball fan still existed, somewhere in there, he would have analyzed the NFL structure to MLBs. He would have examined why the NFL is so successful and why baseball has lost its stature as our #1 popular sport. What other country in the world has undergone a complete overhaul of its sports pastime?

But TPC doesn't even address the NFL. And the reason is obvious. It would prove him dead wrong. Which he knows deep down he is. He understands the argument. He has brains. But he's a Yankees fan.

Ducks said...

And I'd like to add one thing. As TPC knows, I am a HUGE free-market guy. I am a political conservative in every way. And he's right about the "real world" and reaganomics. I shudder to see our country entering to in era of socialism that threatens our very existence as an economic superpower.

But what TPC doesn't get is, this does not apply to sports. It's ridiculous to make the comparison.

TPCs analogy is the worst I've ever heard. The REAL anology here would be a poker game. 10 guys at a table, no limit hold 'em. Let's assume for this analogy that the purpose of the game is not how much money you win, but rather to just WIN the game and trophy.

What baseball is doing is putting 10 guys at the table.

7 guys get $10 in chips.
1 guy gets $20 in chips.
1 guy gets $20 in chips.
1 guy gets $200 in chips.

Is that a competitive poker tournament? Is that fair in any way? Is that the american idea of competition. Does it determine who the best poker player is? MIGHT the guy with only $10 win occasionally (ie the rays, people in TPC's position's major ridiculous argument).

Why don't you get this?

ThePeoplesChamp said...

As always Ducks, you are 100% wrong.
NFL has 8 home games. Any city can sell out 8 home games. Baseball has 81 home game, a much different scenario. The majority of the NFL money is from TV and merchandising, whereas baseball's money is mostly from attendance and local TV contracts (hence why the Mets and Yankees are so much richer-better attendance and their own cable networks).
The NFL is a better system for the owners, not their players. The ML players union is much stronger than the NFL's union. The only reason there is a salary cap in the NFL is to make their owners richer. It's why none of the contracts are guaranteed. It has nothing to do with "whats better for teh game".
What's better for the game is better attendance, better TV ratings and attention. The Brewers, Pirates and Royals dont garner that attention. The Yankees do. Look at Baseball in the 80's and early 90's before the Yankees were good again.

Yankees spending is the same as always. It hasnt prevented 11 different teams from appearing in the last 7 World Series (only the Yankees, Sox and Cardinals appeared twice).
You also cant argue the ratings. The highest rated World Series the last ten years always featuterd the Yankees or Red Sox. This gets Baseball better revenues. The local TV contracts also give small market teams money, so when the YES network does well, so do teh Pirates and Brewers. If they reinvested their money into their teams, they would compete better. Their owners, however, would rather keep the money than spend it. It's fact.
The bottom line is baseball has ben at it's best the last 8 years, which coincides directly with the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs Dodgers and Mets being relatively competitive every year.
And anyone who has read my blog knows I'm a yankee fan, so need to point that out.

ThePeoplesChamp said...

Ducks, I get your point, but your missing some very key factors in your argument.
1- The Yankees payroll is 25%-35% higher than the Tigers, Sox, Cubs and Mets (who by the way play in the same exact market but choose not to reinvest in the team but rather with Bernie Madoff).

2- The Yankees paid a $26M Tax to have that payroll which goes to teh small market teams.

3- The Yankees revenues (including their own locally owned Network) goes to the small ,market squads.

4- Yankee, Met, Red Sox, Cub and Dodger road attendance bring in average 30% better attendance for all other teams that goes directly to the other teams pockets.

So your analogy would be more correct like this:
Guy 1 has $200 in chips
Guy 2 has $135
Guy 3 has $130
guy 4 has $120
Guy 5 has $80 ($30 of which guy 1 gave him)
guy 6 has $60 ($30 of which guy 1 gave him and $10 in his pocket which teh next 3 guys gave him)
Guy 7 has $40 in chips of which $30 guy 1 gave him (and $20 in his pocket that the first 4 guys gave him)

Ducks said...

TPC, I wasn't trying to be accurate in my poker chip break down so let's not hassle of #s and let's assume your poker chip break down is correct.

if with the numbers you used, how is that a fair system? as can you possibly have a fair tournament not like. how do you determine the best "player" in a system like that were not all other factors are equal.

and, if you were not a yankee fan would you honestly feel the same way about all this? dont you see the long term problem with a system like this? how can all the KCs keep a franchise in the long term. dont you think hat eventually the fans will get it and know that theres no point to root hard for theur team because that have a very miniscule chance of going anywhere?

ThePeoplesChamp said...


I again disagree.


The Marlins have taken in more money in revenue sharing than they have spent on payroll the last 4 years (on average received around $40M a year and spent $35M). How do you explain that?
How do you explain how the Florida Panthers (NHL Franchise) has a higher payroll than the Marlins ($41m to $33M?
The Pittsburgh Penguins can afford a $42M payroll but the Pirates struggle at $50M?
One other major factor that isnt being discussed is the Yankees gave over $100M to these teams last season in revenue sharing. Shouldn't there be some repercussions for teams that take that money and use it for non baseball related matters?

The problem here isnt the Yankees. It's the teams that mismanage or misuse their money. Why would the Royals give Gil Meche a $50M 4 year deal? Why did they give Farnsworth a $10M two year deal? It's not because they cant afford it, its because they make bad decisions and market their teams wrong.
Did you know that by population San Diego is twice the size of Boston? Why is Denver considered a big market team when they have the same population as Milwaukee?
Why? Because they market the teams better. It's why the Packers are one of the great football franchises and a poor baseball one. It's why the Marlins have less payroll than the Panthers. It's more mismanagement and misuse of capital than anything else. Numbers dont lie, owners do.

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