Ever since the signing of Mark Texiera, much has been said around the league and amongst people we know about how the Yankees are “bad for baseball” and how there should be a Salary Cap, blah blah blah. In case you have been lost in the woods the last three weeks, these are the reasons why people are cranky:
The Yankees now proudly have the top four contracts in the Major Leagues: A-Rod $27.5-30 Million per year, depending on the year. The Captain, Derek Jeter w/ aprox. $22 Million. New Ace CC Sabathia at $23 Million and newly acquired Mark Texeira at $22.5 Million. Including adding AJ Burnett at a cool $16.5 Million, the Yankees have committed to spending $424 Million with three free agent signings.
I think people’s anger is simply coming from the shock and awe of this much money being spent. How could the Yankees spend this much money with the economy in the toilet? What the lay fan and others who aren’t Yankee followers don’t realize is the fact that the team shed $88.5 Million in payroll this offseason. Jason Giambi was more then 1/4 of that with his $23.4 Million salary that he sure as hell was not earning. Bobby Abreu is off the payroll, saving $16 Million, and pitchers Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano were earning $11 Million each. Andy Pettite made a cool $16 Million and has been offered $10 Million to return, although it is unclear if he will. Assuming Pettitte does not return, the Yankees will have a payroll more then $20 Million less then they did last year, with a much improved team.
Yet, around the league, people are angry.
“At the rate the Yankees are going, I’m not sure anyone can compete with them,” Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio told Bloomberg News in an e-mail after the Yankees signed Texeira. “Frankly, the sport might need a salary cap.”
“We would have loved to have had the player, who appealed to us because of the special circumstances of where he’s from and where we are. We diverted from our plan to try to get him,” Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said, referring to Texeira. “But at the end of the day, it was just too much to pay for one player. It would handicap our ability to go forward.”
Yet these two teams are full of shit. Both teams can afford to sign any one of these players. After all, the Brewers made almost $40 Million over the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The Orioles made over $25 Million both of those seasons. The Washington Nationals who were also in the Texeira sweepstakes, made over $63 Million during those two seasons. Its clear that there is a differing philosophy amongst some of the teams in the MLB. Obviously some teams are not in it to win. To them, running a baseball team is about making money. If a championship comes, then its just an added bonus.
The Yankees have had a different philosophy for 80+ years: WIN. Every year. For the last 27 seasons, its been win at all costs. And this philosophy has worked the best. The Yankees win a world Series an average of once every three seasons. They win an AL Championship an average of every other season.
My point is, every other team could have the same philosophy – it just requires making a long-term investment into your team. The Yankees pull in loads of money because they are popular. And they are popular for two reasons. First, they play in NY City which boasts the largest population center in the US. Second, they win. Because they win, people outside of NY become fans. Every other team could take advantage of the second opportunity- choose to win and you will have more fans. More Fans=More Revenue. Recession or not.
I can even support this with evidence. The LA Angels and the St Louis Cardinals. The Angels have a bigger fan base then the Dodgers and the Dodgers are legendary. Why is this? Because the Angels win. Consistently. The Cardinals gained popularity in the late ’90’s. Why? Because they committed to spending a good amount of money on mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols and that paid off in dividends. McGwire got the team noticed, they built a new stadium and started winning NL championships and a World Series title.
If some of these other owners would invest money into their team instead of using it as a cash cow, they could win more often too. Yeah, I am talking to you, Mark Attanasio.
When the Yankees choose to operate their business in a way that every other team could, it can’t be bad for baseball. In fact, I would argue that by not spending money a team is doing bad things for baseball. How can a team like the Florida marlins expect to make money and build a fan base if they won’t spend more then $27 Million a season? There is nothing exciting about that team – and that’s why 90% of the seats are empty for each home game. And when the Marlins win a championship, they just sell and trade off all of their good players the next season, further disappointing their fan base.
The Yankees are GREAT for baseball. Every small market team gets an average of $2 Million+ from the Yankees each season because of the luxury tax. You want a salary cap, Attanasio? With a cap, you don’t get luxury tax money from the Yankees…