Monday, November 28, 2005

Even When Quiet, Junkees Still Bad For The Game

So far, it's been a most unusual offseason in New York. The Yankees' biggest new acquisitions: Larry Bowa and Tony Pena. The Mets have been stealing the headlines, and heck, even the Red Sox made it to the back page of the Post last week. And the Blue Jays have jacked up the market for relievers like crazy. Rumors swirl around the Mets getting Wagner, a catcher, and maybe even a second baseman. All the while, the Junkees seem to be as quiet as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Even Chris "Mad Dog" Russo said that Mets fans no longer have a right to complain about the Yankees' spending, saying that the Mets are now in the same boat, with the Delgado acquisition.

So is it time to give up harping on the Yanks? Time to get rid of "Yankee Despiser" and start giving it to the Mets and Red Sox (and the Cubs, while we're at it)?

Of course not. Let's see. The highest-paid player in the game, the A-Schmuck, is still in pinstripes. And even if Wang and Small come back next year, the Yanks will likely have the most expensive rotation in the league next year: Johnson at $16 million, Mussina at $19 million, Pavano at $9 million, and Wright (who will likely assume a Sterling Hitchcock-like role next year -- i.e., you'll only see him if the Yanks are up or down by at least 12) at $7 million. That's $51 million right there -- or more than 8 teams' entire payrolls (9 if you count the Fish's expected $40 million number for '06).

Derek Jeter, with the 47th-best OPS in the game, sure wasn't paid like that, earning close to $20 million. And let's not forget the Yanks re-signing Shemp Matsui at $13 million per year, who, yes, had the same OPS as Cliff Floyd. If the Yanks were a small-market team, they would've waved bye-bye to Shemp back in September.

Putting things in perspective, even with Boston adding payroll by getting Beckett, Mota, and Lowell, -- say, at most, $15 million in all, and the Yanks shedding about $30 million by losing Bernie and Brown -- there's still at least a $45 million gap between the two teams. And the Mets had less than half the payroll ($101 million vs. $208 million) of the crosstown Yanks. So even if the Mets spend $50 million more next year (which wouldn't surprise me), they'd still be spending $55 million -- about as much as the Texas payroll -- less than the Yanks.

--- And Russo can't give the Mets a hard time about Delgado: the Mets freed up a lot of payroll by getting rid of Cameron. Cameron-for-Nady was basically a salary dump for the Mets. Now, if the Mets give Billy Wagner $12 million a year and Bengie Molina $8 million, then I'll agree that the Mets are now like the Yanks. But as of right now, Delgado and Cameron were more-or-less a wash.

--- And as for the Blue Jays, mid-to-small market teams have to overpay to get stars to come to play for them. Look at the Tigers overpaying for I-Rod, Percival, and Magglio Ordonez. Now, I agree that spending $75 million to get an oft-injured player like Ordonez was pretty dumb, but I'm sorry, Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge will not put fans in the seats.

And so too with the Jays -- who says Ryan goes there if the Jays aren't willing to pay him tons of money? (Although I think the money would've been better spent on a slugger like Konerko -- the Jays' lineup was punchless last year).

Now granted, fire sales are never good for the game. Teams screwing up the market for relievers are never good for the game. But the fact that, after all the moves of the past few weeks, the Yanks are still very safely in the top spot of payrolls in the game: it just goes to show how out-of-control the Yankees have been, and how much salary they'd have to dump just to be in the same league as Boston and the Mets.

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