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Slow day today in the Yankee world.  Here is the little bit that is making news.

This story from Bryan Hoch at mlb.com.  He interviewed Kevin Long, the Yanks hitting coach about the new lineup.  Here’s a quote:

“Potentially, we look great on paper,” Long said. “But we have to come together and jell as a team. We have to become a team as quick as possible. We’re going to have to work at this thing, but having somebody of Mark Teixeira’s caliber and talent certainly makes things look a lot easier.”

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Joseph P at River Ave Blues wrote a great piece on why baseball does not need a salary cap.  Honestly, his reasoning seems so concrete, I’d invite someone to try and beat it.  He makes a phenomenal point that each team should play to its strengths and the fact is a salary cap limits a team’s ability to make big moves when they need to.   I’d continue on and say that its not our fault that the Yankees can make the moves they do.

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Finally PeteAbe at Lohud Yankees gathered the salaries for the Yankees 25 man roster.  Here are the major players:

Rodriguez: $32 million
Jeter: $20 million
Teixeira: $20 million (+$5 million signing bonus already paid)
Burnett: $16.5 million
Rivera: $15 million
Sabathia: $14 million (+$9 million signing bonus in 3 installments)
Posada: $13.1 million
Damon: $13 million
Matsui: $13 million
Nady: $6.55 million
Cano: $6 million
Swisher: $5.3 million
Wang: $5 million
Marte: $3.75 million
Molina: $2 million
Cabrera: $1.4 million

The totals come to $187.9 Million.  Not too shabby.

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As you read this, the Yankees have requested that the city and state supply them with an additional $259 Million in tax-exempt bonds for completing the new stadium.  This would result in the city and state losing $80 Million in tax revenue.  At a time when the economy is not doing well and I don’t really think most people can afford to pay additional taxes, this is not right and should not happen.  Furthermore, this means nearly 15% of what the city and state are allowed to give in tax-exempt bonds will be lost to the Yankees – money that could be used to improve infrastructure, housing and/or transportation issues that the city and state need to improve.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Yankees.  I have since the day I was born and I always will.  I appreciate that the Steinbrenner family has not made money off this team since 2003 in order to field a winning team for fans such as myself.  But I too have paid the price – $70-200 per seat to watch a game I can see on TV for free and over $8 for a beer that is sold in 30-packs for $12.99 outside the stadium.  I do this all out of my love for the Yankees.

But this cannot happen.  While the Yankees are projected to earn over $300 Million in revenues yearly just from the new stadium and will probably earn a significant amount of money this year despite the economy lagging, they need to foot this bill themselves.  The time is simply not right.  While other teams are slashing ticket prices and payroll, the Yankees are increasing prices drastically and have committed to spending more money this off season then all the other teams combined – $423.5 Million for 3 free agents vs. $372.2 Million for 46 free agents.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing that the Yankees are not spending their money wisely (OK, I’ll admit the Burnett payday is a little over-the-top, but that’s a different story) nor am I arguing that the Yankees are spending too much overall, because they’re not.  In fact, I’ll argue with anyone about how the Yankees spend money – they run the team like a business and the business goal is to win.  And that’s a great business mantra.  If your team doesn’t, then I’m sad for you that your team doesn’t care about you as much.

But don’t spend money like you are a top business and then run back to Mr and Mrs Taxpayer and ask them to give you even more money – especially after the team got $940 Million in tax exempt bonds already!  This was my whole problem with giving money to the automobile companies – don’t run your business like you are a top company when you clearly are not.  The automobile companies wanted money from the government at the same time that their CEO’s and other executives were flying around in corporate jets and making tons of money while their businesses tanked.

Now these two situations are grossly different, but the idea remains the same – you can’t have your cake and eat it too.  The Yankees need to back down from this one and eat the costs.  I have no problem with giving them bonds – let the team have non-exempt bonds and let them pay it back in the distant future.  But they should be non-exempt bonds that require them to pay the taxes, cause I shouldn’t have to!  I didn’t ask for a new stadium – I would have gladly watched the Yankees in the old stadium with no problems.

The Yankees should step back and say “we care about the future of this city and state” and drop their request for tax exempt bonds.  Its the right thing to do.

Now that the Yankees appear to have finished their spending spree this offseason, attention turns to the rest of the free agent pool.  Most notably, Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe, Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi.  (Disclaimer:  I never really assume the Yankees have ever stopped spending money, that’s why I used the word “appear.”)  But back to the free agents.

Buster Olney addresses the Ramirez situation quite nicely in his blog.  How can any team offer him what he wants (4 years $100 Million) when it doesn’t need to and because of the risk involved.  ESPN has reported that the Dodgers have reopened negotiations with Ramirez, although its doubted they will offer him the $22.5 Million per season they had in November.   Since the only top outfielders left are Abreu and Dunn, its clear that no other outfielder will get anywhere above $14 Million – thus simple economics teaches us that the price for Ramirez should come down, possibly to around $18 Million.

But then again, here we are questioning the risk behind having Ramirez on your team: How do we know Manny will play hard; especially if he is given a salary less then he wanted?  Because of this, Olney asks in his blog if it would be worth it for the Dodgers to overpay for Ramirez in order to ensure he is happy and plays hard.  This is a tough question to ask and supports why I was scared when I heard the Yankees were interested in Ramirez and Derek Jeter say Manny would be a good fit for the team.  Scared because the man is too volatile.  He has amazing skill, but not the attitude the Yankees need or want.  We needed a work horse.  The type of guy that Sabathia and Teixeira embody.  Not a guy who takes a bathroom break in the green monster during a stoppage in play.

Its in this situation, that I am glad I am not a general manager.  Ramirez at his best would be a great addition to any team but how do we know we get the best every game?  Or even at least half of them?  Is an extra $7 Million/year worth it?

So here comes Adam Dunn into the situation.  Dunn has quietly made himself into quite the commodity.  Not the most amazing player but someone who is a decent hitter and can be an average outfielder.  Best of all, he probably comes at a bargain price of $12-14 Million, simply because of how horrible the market is for outfielders.  This is a steal.

Then we are left with Bobby Abreu.  Poor, poor Bobby Abreu.  The man made a cool $16 Million with the Yankees last season.  This year, he’ll be lucky to get $10 Million.  Olney thinks he’ll get $8 Mil.  Either way, that’s a steal.  The man was clutch for the Yankees last year, one of our only consistent hitters.  He is slow on defense, but most corner outfielders are these days.

The market is even bad for pitchers and infielders.  Very few teams seem to be interested in Derek Lowe, and Scott “obnoxious” Boras (Lowe’s agent) wanted $18 Million for him.  Granted Boras always wants the moon and the stars for his clients, but still, the market for Lowe is very, well, low.  Only the Mets appear to have made an offer, and that’s rumored to be in the $12 Mil/year range.

And Jason Giambi – who, by the way, I still think should call Hal Steinbrenner up and say, “Listen, I owe you guys for paying me $160 Million over eight seasons, even though I was only worth it for 2 because I turned out to be a juicer who lost his power when I stopped the juice. So, I will play for you for free,”  Giambi will be lucky to get double digit millions.  And I cannot find any team who appears to be interested in him at this point.  He is 38 and a former juicer.  At the most, he’s got 2 years left.  And that’s not saying much, considering he’ll probably hit only .260.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Last year the Yankees had a payroll of $208 million. They let go the contracts of Pettitte, Mussina, Abreu, Giambi, and Pavano — close to $88 million among these 5 players. With Tex, AJ, and CC that total for these three players is close to $61 million.

So, in fact, the Yankees are under $200 million with the need for a 5th starter (that they could fill from within if Pettitte does not accept their $10 million offer), and they need to settle arbitration with Xavier Nady and Melky Cabrera. With these guys and with 1 or 2 more bench players, the Yankees will still be under $200 million.

All of this information can be found on Will Carroll’s post on Baseball Prospectus.

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