The Yankees are pinching pennies

Now, if Cashman’s superiors have finally learned the virtue of not chasing whatever offseason acquisition you can get simply for the sake of doing something, I don’t really want to complain. Over the long term, I will certainly advocate the sort of restraint we’re seeing this offseason. The problem, however, is that they’re not implementing the concept correctly from a baseball standpoint. If you’re only worried about the baseball, the correct strategy would be to take your lumps on the cost of those past mistakes while avoiding further long term spending errors and hope that you can get to where you want to once those contracts come off the books. That is decidedly not what the Yankees are doing, if their cries of poverty are to be believed.

Instead we’re getting a crash-diet of austerity, and as in most such cases, the prescription is leaving the patient in a precarious position. At the end of the day, it simply must be noted that the Yankees’ starting rotation is a huge question mark. Most troublesome, it’s a question mark with a wide range of plausible outcomes. It’s one thing to say someone could be terrible, after all, anyone could be terrible. C.C. Sabathia could have one of the worst seasons in big league history. But he probably won’t. That degree of confidence is what typically guides our confidence when we make predictions about various players and informs our sense of how good players are. And I have to be honest, that sense of confidence is completely lacking in me when it comes to the other four starters currently slated to start the season in the Bombers’ rotation. The worst case scenario (within the realm of things that are reasonably plausible) in which Ivan Nova regresses from how he pitched after his demotion last summer and Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes are all terrible simply isn’t that unlikely at all. Throw in the possibility of C.C. Sabathia getting hurt, and this group is playing another game of Russian Roulette. And after the luck the organization had with their scrap heap acquisitions last year, I’d say they’re about four chambers in.

Thankfully, the baseball gods have gift-wrapped a couple of gifts just for the Yankees this holiday season, with Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt both available to be had on a one year contract to provide some insurance and upside to the roster. The Yankees are, reportedly, declining that gift, because ownership doesn’t want to spend more money in luxury taxes thanks in no small part to their previous tendency to light money on fire at inopportune moments.

Pardon me for being more than a little perturbed about that.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

32 thoughts on “The Yankees are pinching pennies

  1. Kuroda has pitched 57 games out of his 115 in Dodger stadium. He has pitched 6 games in AL parks. Maybe he can make the switch to the AL and be fine, but we know pitchers don't always fare well making the switch from NL to AL … and that also isn't accounting for the fact that Dodger stadium is pitcher-friendly.

    So what are the realistic expectations if he switches from NL to AL and possibly a less favorable home park for pitchers?

    As far as your other point goes Brien, I'm generally against making moves for the sake of making moves. The team just won the AL East and it seems just as reasonable to not expect Nova or Hughes to digress from where they are. I think it is a bit early to start worrying about next season considering it isn't even January at this point.

  2. Not sure I see the pont of signing an Oswalt or Kuroda. They profile as back of the rotation startters in the AL east. Also, they would take starts away from Hughes, Noesi and potentiall the kids in AAA. The Yankees are better off seeing if they can develop another starter or hope Hughes turns things around then bring in a shot term option.

    If things don't work out with option A(Hughes) or Option B(Noesi) there is plenty of depth to pull from. The difference in 2012 is small and the payoff beyond is mush greater then what a Oswalt or Kuroda would provide.

  3. Brien, the new CBA represents a sea change. The soft cap represented by the luxury tax has gotten a lot harder. We'll need to do some analysis of this. But assuming that the Yanks don't go and blow this line of thinking to hell by signing Prince Fielder to a nine figure deal, the simple fact is this: the old luxury tax did not dissuade the Yanks from spending. The new tax does.

    No argument, the Yanks enter 2012 with a shaky starting rotation. They did the same in 2011, and I famously (around here, anyway) predicted that the rotation would not be good enough to make it to the post-season. I was wrong about that; the rotation exceeded expectations. But I agree, we cannot expect that to happen again.

    But back to that sea change. If the CBA does represent a harder salary cap, then part of the sea change I mentioned is that the Yankees cannot necessarily expect to make the post-season every year. In other words, with this sea change there must follow a change in our expectations.

  4. Imagine rooting for New York's other team! The Mets haven't been to the playoffs in half a decade, are coming off another down season, the team is cutting payroll AND just lost their best player to free agency. That has got to suck!

    I'd rather see them practice restraint. Just because they made the overpays that you listed above doesn't mean that they should continue to spend that way. But don't worry, I'm sure they will sign some doofus at a premium next offseason and we can all complain about that.

  5. So I am wondering something: is there any debt service for the new stadium that is also contributing to the frugality? Here in MetsLand, we know all about debt service, which includes money owed for the new park and for starting SNY. Did the Yankees issue construction bonds as most teams do in this sort of situation? Are there bills coming due? And do they make any difference to a team they seems to routine print money stamped "in YES we trust"?

  6. Boras is Boras. He will do anything to get his client a deal, and things were looking desperate for Soriano last year. I have no doubt that he did an end run around Cashman to get this deal done, and I am sure he made every argument under the sun to persuade them to sign on the dotted line.

  7. I agree, sort of, yet by adding in Oswalt and his injured back, and/or Kuroda and his fringy stuff, we will simply be adding yet two more question marks to your Nova, Hughes, AJ and Freddy concerns. All legit, but adding more question marks to other question marks doesn't answer any questions.

    I think the Yankees are simply refusing to chase question marks. No more Pavanos and Igawas. Focus on players morel likely to deliver quality, be they named Sabathia (success), Lee (failed signing), and perhaps next year, Hamels and or Cain.

    The Yankees have built up depth in AAA with young arms like Noesi, Phelps, Warren and Mitchell, with Banuelos and Betances offering even more high end, but probably a year behind. I'm willing to give those kids the shots if the guys on the big-league roster fail. Fact is, some of your fears will come true, yet in baseball, there will also be surprises.

    The Yankees will be fine in 2012.