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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Yankees - Signed Teixeira
New York Yankees - Signed 1B Mark Teixeira to an 8-year, $180 million contract.
I’m not a Yankees fan and I can’t envision a scenario in which I’d root for the team.
However, the strongest advocates of a salary cap, the ones ranting about salaries in light of the economy, are full of hot air. And something else, but the site nanny won’t let me say it.
MLB’s revenues have been exploding since 2003 and player salaries have simply not matched this increase in revenues. In 2003, players in baseball made 63% of league revenues. In 2008, that number appears to be 52% of league revenues, or less than any of the other major professional leagues in the US, which all have salary caps.
For decades, wonks, wags, and wigs have told us that player salaries drive upward ticket prices and that arguments about supply and demand are theoretical constructs for an imaginary world. But in the real world, during a time in which the player’s slice of the pie has dropped tremendously (a $400 million loss of the pie in 2008 alone, relative to 2003), ticket prices have continued to gone up unabated. Just as expected, savings from limiting the salaries of those mean old players have been filtered directly into the pockets of owners. Owners who cry poverty and get welfare stadiums. Republicans talked about welfare queens 15 years ago, but it would take thousands of so-called queens driving around in taxpayer Cadillacs to match some of the true members of that category. Take Jeff Loria, who pockets revenue-sharing money and then turns around and gets an additional honeypot in the form an apparently imminent fancy-new stadium. If MLB owners were in charge of the TARP funds, the $700 billion would already be completely gone and the sycophantic media, ever-hungry for prestige, quotes, and free pastrami on rye, would blame it on pay raises for local janitorial staff.
Now, to the Yankees. I’ve been stalling on saying nice things about the team, but I guess I’ve got to bite the bullet and get it over with. The Yankees have a mindset that is good for baseball and the US would be better off if more companies possessed the Yankee mindset.
The Yankees do spend more money than other teams in MLB, but the differences would be less drastic if the payrolls of many teams had been rising up to the waves of new cash that have entered baseball in recent years. Going by the NFL formula, very generous considering the MLBPA is far more powerful an entity than any other union in sports, the payroll floor for 2009 would almost certainly be in the $100 million range. 58% of league revenue, as the players in NFL get, would be, in baseball, an average team payroll of a hair under $120 million. It’s pretty clear that while the Yankees are outspending everyone comfortably, the rest of baseball has just as much to do with the payroll disparity as the Yankees do.
Now, what about the Yankee mindset? The Steinbrenners aren’t anywhere near as rich or as liquid as some other owners in baseball such as Carl Pohlad of the Twins. The difference is that the Steinbrenners have always invested in their team, always striven to put the best product possible out on the field. The Yankees have certainly made some terrible trades, especially when King George was hands-on the most, but they were done with the motive of making the team better. Yes, the Yankees got a huge, undeserved payday from the locals for their stadium, like most teams in baseball did, but it’s a mitigating factor that they’re actually plowing those funds back into the on-field product. And the team never threatened to not compete until they got their sweet check. Perhaps a small difference, but I see it as a good bit more ethical than Kevin McClatchy demanding taxpayer moneys to help the Pirates compete and then turn around and use all the money to fund his failing media empire.
Now, what about Mark Teixeira? The benefits of Teixeira are pretty obvious, he’s a fine defensive 1B who hits very well and should be a relatively safe bet for the Yankees over the course of his contract. He’s not A-Rod or peak Manny, but Teixeira’s a very good player and while he may only be a bit above-average by his mid-30s, $22.5 million likely won’t be exorbitant for an average player on the FA market in 2016.
Arte Moreno may get to have the personal satisfaction of feeling like the injured party, but this is what Tex was going to make when the Angels acquired him and if they weren’t going to play serious ball, the Angels should never have done the Kotchman trade. Perhaps they’ll change the rules of baseball during the season and allow moral victories to win games, minimizing the damage that the team offense, 10th in the AL in runs with a huge couple of months of Teixeira thrown in, can do.
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