Thursday, August 14, 2008

2009 = 2008 redux?

I couldn't resist. Found a really good article over lunch and had to post. It's an addiction, I tell ya!
According to Tim Marchman of the NY Sun, the 2009 Yanks will look a lot like the 2008 Yanks. I think he's right, to a degree. The core will still be there. But I think if Cashman's back, the team will have a whole new feel to it.

Marchman's salient points:

The subtext here involves the team payroll, which will get a lot lighter once the year ends. Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, Bobby Abreu, Andy Pettitte, and Mike Mussina are making $75 million between them this year. Other than $7 million due Giambi and Pavano as the price of declining team options on their contracts, the team owes them nothing for next year. Even in 2008, you can buy a lot with 75 million American dollars, plus the relative pocket change the team will get with others such as Pudge Rodriguez and LaTroy Hawkins coming off the books.

He goes on to say that the Yanks will add both Sabathia AND Teixeira. I don't think that's going to happen. I can see the team opening the vault for Sabathia, but not Teix.

Marchman then adds the following and the last sentence has what I think a fatal flaw built into it (emphasis mine):

For next year, the Yankees already have $111 million committed to Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Mariano Rivera, and Jose Molina. Figure another $12 million for players eligible for arbitration or whose salary the team can set — Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, and Melky Cabrera, most prominently — and this leaves the team with $77 million to fill out the rest of the roster if they shell out about $200 million altogether, as they usually do.
Marchman's "proposed team" to fill the holes would look like this:
Signing Sabathia, Mussina, Abreu, Marte, Howry, and Frank Thomas, for instance, would fill all the holes, at least if you moved an outfielder to first base. It would also come to something like $72 million, leave nearly nothing for the bench or contingencies, and leave the team worse off than they are this year, given the effects of aging.
Here's the flaw, take 1: They will be in a new stadium next year and who's to say the payroll can't go UP even higher? Is a 10% increase in total payroll unreasonable to set as a ceiling/budget? What if that $77M Mr. Marchman alludes to is really closer to $100M? Silly numbers, we can all agree, but when you're making as much as the Yanks will make in 2009, is that so hard to see occuring?

Here's the flaw, take 2: Hank's driving this oceanliner and the Yanks will likely miss the post season this year, his first year at the helm. I'm not ready to call him Admiral Hazelwood, yet, but you can rest assured that good old Hank will instruct Cashman (or whoever is GM next year) to go out an build him a winner. And by build, we can really infer BUY. [I can imagine this year's Thanksgiving at the Boss' house with Hank and Hal banished from the adult's table.]

I agree that Moose and Abreu will be back, with similarly-sized 2 year, $20M deals. I think both quiet players have really grown to enjoy playing here. I could be wrong, but I can't see other teams offering much more or longer years. Maybe for Abreu...

Overall, I think Marchman's plan seems right, but I think it holds things too static. We've got young pitchers to buttress the bullpen, rotation down on the farm. Some bats, too.

Now, I'm starting to work on a major project, pretending I am GM and see if I can rebuild this team into something quicker, younger, cheaper and maybe a bit more radical. Just getting started on it but at some point, we'll have something to discuss.

UPDATE (8/14/08,3pm): I had emailed Tim Marchman about what I viewed as possible flaws to his argument. He was kind enough to email me back and allow me to post that text here. He's got a good point about the lux tax, which I conveniently overlooked.
I don't think they're going to go nuts with the payroll for three reasons: One, they've been losing money the last few years; two, they're probably not going to bring in any playoff money this year; three, with the luxury tax, to add a dollar of payroll they have to spend $1.40. I also suspect that the financial meltdown is going to crimp their style a bit.

On the other hand, with those $5000 seats, who knows.

I agree on Mussina and Abreu (though I think they'll get a bit more than that) and for that matter I don't see why they shouldn't bring back Giambi for a year or two. Say what you will, the man can still hit.

UPDATE (8/15/08, 12pm): Rob Neyer blogged on this, too (Insider access required, sorry). Neyer seems to (scarily) agree with the flaws that I noted in Marchman's case:
Usually I agree with every word Marchman writes, but this time I must disagree with his foundational premise, that the Yankees will "shell out about $200 million altogether, as they usually do."

Yes, but they don't "usually" move into a gleaming new revenue factory. Also, if they usually spend $200 million, it's because $200 million figures to buy 95 victories. Granted, that's not going to happen this year. But before this season, the numbers suggested the Yankees would win right around 95 games.

The people who run the Yankees make mistakes, but they're not stupid. If they look at the numbers this winter and find that $200 million is going to buy 85-90 wins, they'll spend whatever it costs to reach 90-95. That might be $25 million more, or it might be $50 million more. But whatever the figure, the Yankees can afford it. And I believe they'll spend it.


tHeMARksMiTh said...

I think it will be tough to bring back Abreu unless they come to a deal before free agency starts. There are a lot of teams out there looking for a power-hitting outfielder. The Braves, for instance, might shell out the money knowing that by the time his 3 year deal would be up, their minor leaguers would be ready to contribute (Heyward, Freeman, Flowers, etc.). Other teams might include the Mariners, Giants, Padres, Mets, Blue Jays, Twins, Indians, and Royals to name a few. I think he'll be an underrated guy who gets a lot of attention because he'll be productive without looking for a long-term contract.

Jason said...

Well Mark, sorta.

Abreu's not a power hitter. He'll hit 20 or so a season. I wouldn't call that a power hitter by any stretch.

I think the Yanks will, however, package Melky and Kennedy in some deal. Not sure what that is or what they will try to get for them, but I can see the team trying to do something with those two.

Chris Heer said...

He may not have the numbers of a classic power hitter, but he's tied for third on the current team in SLG.

He's not a superstar, and his OBP is down, but he'd be an upgrade for several teams.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Exactly. He is an upgrade in a lot of places, and he won't command toom any more years than three, which makes him more attractive. However, I agree that "power-hitter" may have been a stretch, but I was comparing him to Blanco, Kotsay, and Francoeur.

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