Evil Empire II

A recent history lesson is in order.  In December 2002, after being outbid by the Yankees for the services of free agent pitcher Jose Contreras, then-Sox President Larry Lucchino referred to the Yankees as the “Evil Empire”.  Lucchino is largely forgotten today, but his “Star Wars” nickname has stuck.  What triggered Lucchino’s ire back then, was that the Yankees had a well-earned reputation for being able to outspend any foe.  Back then, the Yanks were outspending the Red Sox by around $80 million a year.  Back then, the Yankees payroll was about 72% higher than that of the Red Sox.

Flash forward eight years, to the recently concluded baseball Winter Meetings.  The Red Sox have become only the second team in baseball history to sign two players to nine-figure contracts for terms of seven years or greater in the same offseason.  The other team?  That would be the Yankees, the other “evil empire”, in 2008.

There’s a strong parallel between the Yankees’ 2008 post-season and the BoSox’s 2010 post-season. … Click here to read the rest

“Budget Guy” Says Yanks Have A Budget, Leaves Me Wondering

Let’s revisit old ground and look once again at the amount of the Yankees’ payroll commitment for 2011:

The player salary figures shown in green above are committed, and the numbers shown in yellow above are estimated.  The pink numbers are commitments for players we don’t expect to see in pinstripes in 2011.  At Jason’s suggestion, I reduced the numbers I originally projected for Hughes and Joba.  Most of the other salary figures projected for 2011 are simply the amounts paid by the Yankees to the affected players in 2010.  Bottom line is that the Yankees have estimated salary commitments at this point for 21 active players at a total cost of around $197 million.

Try to find a way to add a Cliff Lee-size salary to these existing commitments, while staying under $210 million, the reported high end of the Yankees’ payroll budget.  It can’t be done.

Of course, Andy Pettitte might decide to retire.  That would reduce the numbers shown above by about $12 million, leaving the Yankees with $25 million to spend to fill five remaining roster spots. … Click here to read the rest

Money To Burn? (More On the Yankees’ Budget)

Sure, the Yankees are one of the most valuable franchises in sports – Forbes values the team at $1.6 billion, just behind Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys, and well ahead of any other baseball team.  According to Forbes, the Yankees brand is the most valuable in sports.  The Yankees play in the third most expensive stadium in the world, and by some measures they have the most expensive player payroll of any sports team.  Yes, by most measures, the team is very, very rich.

But first and foremost, the Yankees are a business, a successful business.  They are governed by the same rules that apply to all businesses, and they have achieved success by doing the things that successful businesses do.  Successful businesses spend within their means. Joe Posnanski noted for Sports Illustrated that in 2009, the Yankees’ spent  94.4% of their revenues on their baseball operations.  This is a high percentage for a baseball team, but not an unusually high percentage: in 2009, the Kansas City Royals spent 94.3% of their revenues on their baseball operations.… Click here to read the rest

Crazy Talk

Yes, it is crazy to think about Jeter in Dodger blue. It is crazy to think about Jeter wearing anything other than Yankee pinstripes.  Jeter as a Dodger is a crazy thought because the Dodgers are strapped for cash, what with their ownership fighting tooth and nail in divorce court.  It is crazy because the Dodgers already have an excellent shortstop, one of the best in baseball, Rafael Furcal, who produced 4.1 fWAR in two-thirds of a season in 2010.

Jeter could only play for the Dodgers if he agreed to play a position other than shortstop.  But where else might Jeter play?  The Dodgers have $5.25 million committed in 2011 to Casey Blake, so presumably there’s no room for Jeter at third base.  But what about second base? Ryan Theriot manned second base for the Dodgers after his acquisition from the Cubs, but he produced a 0.0 fWAR in 2010 and the Dodgers may not tender him an offer in 2011. … Click here to read the rest

The Yankees’ Budget

OK, sure: the Yankees’ “budget” is often pictured as a mythological creature like the Loch Ness Monster – there’s occasional evidence for the existence of such things, but no confirmed sightings.  The alleged existence of a Yankees budget has been discussed as far back as 1995.  Allegedly, this budget prevented the Yankees from signing Mike Cameron in 2009, and Johnny Damon in 2010.

But in other respects, the Yankees’ budget is like a campaign promise: it becomes more difficult to pin down the further we’re past Election Day.  We were told that the 2010 Yankees’ budget was at $185 million, but somehow by Opening Day the Yankees’ payroll had reached $213 million.  We were told in the beginning of this year that the Yankees only had $2 million left in their budget to sign their final outfielder (money that was spent on the combo of Randy Winn and Marcus Thames), but somehow the Yankees found the extra $3.5 million needed mid-season to sign Kerry Wood and Lance Berkman, and had money left over for the possible mid-season acquisition of Cliff Lee.… Click here to read the rest

The Battle for Cliff Lee (Texas and Taxes)

Let’s start with basic principles.  The first state to get a crack at Cliff Lee’s income is the state where he lives.  Cliff Lee currently lives in Arkansas.  Arkansas has a state income tax, with a top rate of 7%.  So long as Cliff Lee resides in Arkansas, he’s going to have to pay state income taxes regardless of whether his baseball team is based in Texas or New York.

Of course, it’s possible for Cliff Lee to move his family to Texas, in which case he won’t have to pay income taxes to Arkansas.  But Cliff Lee can do this even if he plays for the Yankees.

If this sounds simple to you, good!  Because I’m about to make things a lot more complicated.

Certain states impose income taxes on people who work in that state but live in another state.  These taxes are called “nonresident income taxes”.  I bet a lot of you are familiar with these taxes. … Click here to read the rest

Chuck’s Apology, Explained

Remember that Chuck said that Yankee fans are “supportive”?  Under baseball’s system of revenue sharing, the Yankees (and their fans) are extremely supportive.  The Yankees and their fans support baseball’s poorest teams in baseball’s smallest markets – teams like the Rays, the Royals and the Pirates.  Revenue sharing has provided these teams with major amounts of cash – over $40 million annually per team in some cases – making a few of these teams among the most profitable in baseball.  Who pays for this revenue sharing?  Cash-generating teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox – and of course, the cash-paying fans of these cash-generating teams.

We’ve written a lot here about revenue sharing, so my regular readers already know how the Pirates and Marlins have profited from revenue sharing.  But here’s something you might not have known.  Guess what other baseball team has received financial support from revenue sharing?  I bet you’ve guessed already.  In 2008, the Texas Rangers received a bit more than $23 million in revenue sharing payments. … Click here to read the rest

Jose Guillen Linked to HGH; Barred from Post-Season?

Before diving into this question, let’s be clear on a few points. First, the Giants are not exactly missing Guillen’s presence in their lineup.  The guy hit only .266 in 42 games for the Giants, after being traded to SF by KC.  Second, we don’t know exactly what Bud Selig knows about this case, or communicated to the Giants. Third, if you’re looking for a poster boy for the cause that we’re all innocent until proven guilty, Jose Guillen may not be your first choice. He was listed as a user of performance-enhancing drugs in the Mitchell Report. Also, the SF Chronicle has previously reported that Guillen purchased $19,000 of HGH between 2002 and 2005.

But let’s get back to the original question. Can Bud Selig order a team to remove a player from its roster, based on the mere suspicion that the player might have received shipments of performance-enhancing drugs?

Maybe. Quite possibly.

We’re familiar with baseball players who have failed drug tests and received suspensions.… Click here to read the rest

Reacting (Rationally) to Losing

I said that the favorite is always the field.  By this I meant that in a playoff system consisting of three short series, no single team is ever the true favorite.  If you focus on any one team in the 8-team field, chances are that your team is going to lose to one of the other seven teams in the field.

(Would you have known from reading the mainstream media that the Yanks were not prohibitive favorites to make it to the World Series?  I’m not trying to pat ourselves on the back here.  It takes no great genius to figure these things out.  You just have to avoid parroting the set pieces written 20 years ago.)

This year, the field has proven to be the favorite with an unusual vengeance.  The individual favorites in the original 8-team field have all suffered mightily.   The AL team with the best record (the Rays) was eliminated long ago.  The defending champions, the team with the single best Vegas odds of any of the eight playoff teams (the Yankees), was eliminated Friday night. … Click here to read the rest