Whatever It Takes To Win
George and the Yankees have pulled off yet another move. They wanted Randy Johnson? They got him. While the Mets were maligned for their Pedro deal, the Yankees will be applauded for theirs despite the fact that Randy Johnson is a injury risk too. He only started 18 games in 2003 and has a balky knee. He'll be pitching at Yankee Stadium until 2007 if not longer. Is this s good deal for the Yankees? Yeah, it was what they needed and if they had Randy in the playoffs last year, there is not a Red Sox comeback. The regular season is not when he'll pay off. You can put Rick Helling on that team and he'll win 16 games. The playoffs are when he can pitch game 1, game 4 and game 7 if needed. He can be the difference between a winning and losing and he can control the series.
The Yankees gave up a lot in Javier Vazquez, Eric Duncan, and Dioneer Navarro, but the price was going to be steep for Randy and what do the Yankees need with prospects anyway? I cannot see a rookie getting an everyday shot that is not as result of injury ever again on this team.
The Yankees will have 3 guys making over $15,000,000 million in their rotation alone! Randy Johnson is on tap for $16 million ($6m deferred), Mike Mussina is due $17 million, and Kevin Brown is due $15,000,000 (until he's traded, but I cannot see them trusting Kaz Ishii over him). The other two are not doing so bad themselves with Pavano making about $10,000,000 and Wright making $7,000,000.
Their rotation will be making about $65,000,000. That is more than most team's payrolls. In fact it almost beats the Colorado Rockies $ 65,445,167 and the Chicago White Sox $ 65,212,500 and is more than the Oakland Athletics $ 59,425,667, the San Diego Padres $ 55,384,833, Texas Rangers $ 55,050,417, the Minnesota Twins $ 53,585,000, the Baltimore Orioles $ 51,623,333, the Toronto Blue Jays $ 50,017,000, the Kansas City Royals $ 47,609,000, the Detroit Tigers $ 46,832,000, the Cincinnati Reds $ 46,615,250, the Florida Marlins $ 42,143,042, the Montreal Expos $ 41,197,500, the Cleveland Indians $ 34,319,300, the Pittsburgh Pirates $ 32,227,929, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays $ 29,556,667, and the Milwaukee Brewers $ 27,528,500.
Then they are going to have Jason Giambi's $15.5 million (which they will end up buying out the rest of the contract), Derek Jeter's $20 million, Hideki Matsui's $8 million, Jorge Posada's $12 million, Marino Rivera's $10.5 million, A-Rod's $20 million (which they are paying about $16 million of that), Gary Sheffield's $13 million, and Bernie Williams $12 million. Yeah, only two guys will be in their starting lineup making less than $10 million at his point until they get rid of Giambi.
Throw on the $17.75 million they are paying for their set-up men in Tom Gordon, Stave Karsay, Paul Quantril, Mike Stanton, and F-Rod and you have pure lunacy. You throw Rivera's salary into the mix and six people in the bullpen cost more than the entire Milwaukee Brewers team.
Bud? You see anything wrong with this? Anyone that says the Yankees are good for baseball are wrong. You tell a Devil Rays, Orioles, or Blue Jays fans they are good for baseball. Their team has zero chance of winning that division and competing while this spending is going on. With the Yankees, they basically lock up a playoff spot every season knocking someone out that might have gotten in. That means a loss of millions of dollars in revenue for a team. Will it stop there? No. The Yankees are looking at Beltran or Delgado, or maybe both? I have no idea.
People always tell me that it is not that the Yankees spend more than everyone else, they spend it on the right players. That is a laughable notion since they've made so many mistakes that any other team would have been financially buried had they happened to them. They just have enough to pay someone take their mistakes off their hands or just burry their mistakes in more money. Not only that, but they spent $180,000,000+ million in 2004 and had some serious holes in their rotation. Smart spending? Not really, just a lot of it.
They had, Javier Vazquez, Jason Giambi, Kevin Brown, Hideki Irabu, Raul Mondesi, Hideki Irabu, Drew Henson (six year $17 million dollar contract), Steve Karsay, Mike Mussina (due $34 million over the next two seasons making him one of the most overpaid players in the league), Chris Hammond, and Jose Contreras recently. Those are things that would cripple every other team if they happened in such a short period, but they can band aid their's up.
Yankee fans praise their team's whatever it takes to win motto. Whatever it takes to win is outspend everyone until you win. George dishes it out, but no owner can even come close to the Yankees payroll without sinking them into $50 or $60 million dollars of debt for that season and that is undershooting in my opinion. The Seattle Mariners made the most money in 2003 out of any Major League team with $17 million in profit. Their payroll in 2003 was $86 million. Since no 2004 figures are around I'll stick with 2003 for now. That means they would have to lose $83 million dollars just to equal the spending of the Yankees last year. Forget how much they'd be in the red to catch up to their 2005 payroll, that would push them into the $100 million dollar debt range. The perception by Yankee fans is other owners have it, they just won't spend it. That could not be further from the truth. It is generally considered a bad business model to be hemorrhaging money.
I understand the big market/small market idea and how teams have more resources in NY, LA, Boston, and Chicago. But the Yankee spending is making the 2nd highest team's payroll look miniscule in comparison. The 2nd highest payroll in 2005 will be roughly 60% of the total Yankee payroll. If the 2nd highest payroll is $120,000,000 in 2005, the Yankees payroll will be 75% higher if it is $200,000,000. If the lowest payroll is $30,000,000 in 2005, the Yankee payroll at $200,000,000 would 668% higher. Yes, that means for every dollar the team with the lowest payroll spends the Yankees pay $6.68 to their $1. You can kiss parity goodbye in the AL East. I know Selig had put in the luxury tax and the debt rule to try and curtail the Yankees wild spending and I'm not sure what could be effective at curtailing their spending, but I have three suggestions. The first one, which is not that good, basically ties the lowest payroll to the Yankees payroll. The highest payroll cannot be more than 500% of the lowest payroll. This one is bad for a lot of reasons, but I threw it out there anyway. The other idea is that no team can be more than 45% ahead the team's payroll below them. Whether it be 1st and 2nd for 20th and 21st. If the Red Sox are spending $120,000,000 in 2005, then the Yankees cannot spend more than $174,000,000. If the Red Sox remained at their 2004 level, which was $127,298,500 according to USA Today, the Yankees would be limited to $184,582,825.00. If they are a dollar over it, it needs to be heavily, heavily penalized so that it can be enforced with measures that will be a deterrent. At the very least it would cause the Yankees to have to be very creative with their accounting or move someone of value making some good money like Hideki Matsui in order to even try and bring in Carlos Beltran. The last one is have a heavier penality on the luxury tax. This season the Yankees will be about $70,000,000 over and are getting taxed $28,000,000. One would think if that number was doubled even the Yankees would have to think twice. Whatever the solution, when a team outspends the team below them by 75% it is not good for baseball. At the very least, there should be at least one team that can financially complete with every team every season and that is simply not the case with the Yankees.
Fortunately for us Met fans, the Yankees are in the AL and the NL has a much more competitive balance and parity exists a lot more. I know I should not concern myself with what they do, but by basic business, it just does not seem right.