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News of the Day – 12/16/08

Posted By Diane Firstman On December 16, 2008 @ 8:04 am In Diane Firstman,News of the Day | Comments Disabled

Let’s play the name game … Teixeira, Rivera, Cabrera …. ok, enough of that … here’s the news:

  • Has Andy been playing coy with the Bombers?:  SI.com’s [1] Jon Heyman reports that “Pettitte’s people apparently are telling folks he has a $36-million, three-year offer from another, unnamed team.”
  • Buster Olney at ESPN.com [2] trots out the cautionary tale of A-Rod’s signing with the pedestrian Texas Rangers as a way to argue that the Orioles and Nationals should stop with the notion of signing Teixeira:

But history tells us, over and over and over, that winning — as in contending — is what really draws fans to your ballpark, not some shiny bauble. Cal Ripken single-handedly drew fans to Camden Yards at the end of his career. With all due respect to Teixeira, he is not Ripken. He is not Barry Bonds. Few players have that kind of box-office allure.

Alex Rodriguez did not. After the Rangers drew 2.5 million people to their ballpark and finished with a record of 71-91, they went out and spent $252 million to sign A-Rod. The next year — when A-Rod did his part, slamming 52 homers and driving in 135 runs — they went 73-89 and drew 2.8 million. In other words, adding the best player in the game made only a slight difference in the Rangers’ attendance because they still weren’t winning. Inevitably, A-Rod’s salary became an enormous weight on the Rangers, wrecking their payroll flexibility. In order to retrieve that flexibility, they cut a deal with the Yankees in which they had to eat almost 40 percent of Rodriguez’s contract.

(My take: Baseball Prospectus pointed this out quite well in their book “Baseball Between the Numbers”.  It isn’t worth it for a middling team to make a mega-million investment in one player, as it only takes them from X games out of the playoffs to maybe X-Y games out of the playoffs.   And the playoffs (not the regular season) are where many teams make their profits for the year.  Attendance (and therefore revenue) will increase in the years following a playoff appearance, so teams should make that one player mega-million investment when there is a very good chance it will make the difference between making and not making the playoffs.)

  • ESPN.com’s [3]Rob Neyer tries to sort out for prospective new teams whether Jake Peavy would be be “all that” away from Petco:

Is Peavy going to post the same ERAs with some other team as he has with the Padres? No, he’s not. Not consistently, anyway. But unless his employers are expecting that, they shouldn’t be at all disappointed. If you adjust Peavy’s ERA over the last five seasons to account for his home ballpark — granted, in something of a crude fashion (my note: “ballpark index“)– he still winds up seventh best in the majors, right between Roy Oswalt and Carlos Zambrano. Is there any team that wouldn’t be thrilled with any of those three?

  • Neyer [4] isn’t a big fan of the Burnett signing, and he seems to think the Yankee offense is OK now and will probably be improved by Opening Day:

(Burnett is) not reliable, and the Yankees have pretty obviously overpaid. Too many dollars, too many years. If the Yankees wanted an impressive fifth starter, they probably could have spent a little less money for a slightly better pitcher …

And the offense? Yankee Stadium is (or rather, was) a pitcher’s park. Considering only road games, the Yankees finished third in the American League in OPS last year. Maybe that doesn’t qualify as “excellent,” but it’s certainly somewhere between “good” and “excellent.” Granted, everybody’s a year older and we might expect a slight decline next year. So yes, the Yankees should try to improve their offense … and I’m not at all convinced they can’t still afford to do exactly that. Has Brian Cashman suggested that he’s finished spending money? If he has, I missed it. In fact, I’ll be surprised if the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup doesn’t look better than it looks right now.  And right now it looks pretty darn good.

(My take: The offense looks good NOW?  You lose OPS demons like Abreu and Giambi, hope that Swisher bounces back, hope that Nady’s ’08 can be repeated, and you think it looks good NOW?)

  • MLB.com [5] updates the Cabrera for Cameron deal … with little movement to report:

The most popular perception is that other players could be included, most notably Yankees left-hander Kei Igawa (according to multiple outlets, including the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) and perhaps Brewers infielder Bill Hall (according to the New York Daily News). The inclusion of either player would tip the financials of the deal, because Igawa is owed $12 million over the next three seasons and Hall $15.7 million over the next two (including a $500,000 buyout for 2011).

  • The Times [6]‘ Tyler Kepner updates the status of the Yanks vis-a-vis Cameron, Pettitte and Manny.
  • Derek Lowe only wants to pitch on a contender, but he wants some serious coin too, as per MLB.com [7].
  • BP.com’s [8] Jay Jaffe examines the “no doubt about it” Hall of Fame credentials of Rickey Henderson, including this bit on his time with the Yankees:

Henderson signed a five-year, $8.6 million deal with the Yankees upon being acquired. Shifting to center field on a full-time basis as a Yankee in 1985, he put up a monster season, hitting .314/.419/.516, stealing 80 bases in 90 attempts, and setting new career highs with 24 homers and 146 runs—a performance good for 10.8 WARP3. Alas, he finished just third in the MVP balloting behind teammate Don Mattingly (who drove in 145 runs while hitting .324/.371/.567) and George Brett. Where did the BBWAA voters think Mattingly’s high RBI total came from? Rickey topped his ’85 totals for home runs and stolen bases the following year, but his .263/.358/.469 was a major step down. By 1989 the Yankees felt his skills had begun to fade. Unable to complete a new three-year deal, they sent him back to Oakland for three players on June 21 of that year.

  • Hal Steinbrenner came in at #28 on Sports Business Journal’s [9] “50 Most Influential People in Sports” for 2008.
  • “A tisket, a tasket, a Yankee-emblemed casket”: If you REALLY “live and die” with the Bronx Bombers, then you can go to your final resting place in … an officially-licensed Yankee casket.  The Times [10] reports:

Leaving no merchandising stone unturned, Major League Baseball has authorized the use of team logos on a line of funeral caskets for people who want to carry their fandom unto eternity. Models for the Yankees (replete with interior pinstripes) and the Mets (with handles of mixed Dodger blue and Giant orange) went on sale at the Branch Funeral Home [11] in Smithtown, Long Island.

  • The recently non-tendered Chris Britton turns 26 today.  We thank Chris for allowing the Yanks to rid themselves of Jaret Wright via a November 2006 trade with the Orioles.
  • OF Charles Gipson (10 ABs for the Yanks in 2003) turns 36 today.
  • 25 years ago today,  George Steinbrenner fires Billy Martin (for the 3rd time), replacing him with Yogi Berra and giving Martin a front-office job.
  • On this date in 1996, the Rangers sign free agent P John Wetteland to a four-year contract worth $23 million. Wetteland had 43 saves for the Bombers in ’96, but the Yanks had this hard-throwing set-up guy named Rivera (130K, 73H in only 107.7 IP) waiting in the wings.

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URLs in this post:

[1] SI.com’s: http://www.fannation.com/si_blogs/hot_stove/posts/32601

[2] ESPN.com: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3770058&name=olney_buster

[3] ESPN.com’s : http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/chatESPN?event_id=24204

[4] Neyer: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=3771038&type=blogEntry

[5] MLB.com: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081215&content_id=3718351&vkey=hotstove2008&fext=.jsp

[6] Times: http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/hot-stove-rumblings-on-cameron-pettitte-and-manny/

[7] MLB.com: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081215&content_id=3718426&vkey=hotstove2008&fext=.jsp

[8] BP.com’s: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8375

[9] Sports Business Journal’s: http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/60974#8

[10] Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/opinion/15mon3.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

[11] Branch Funeral Home: http://www.branchfh.com/shop-caskets.php

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