The Owners Meetings are going on this week which gave Ken Davidoff of the NY Post a chance to catch up with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner to ask him some question about the team and The Budget Boss stirred up some controversy.
The biggest bombshell that he dropped was the news that the Yankees goal of a $189 million payroll isn’t just for 2014, but that he would like to see the budget in that range from then on.
“I believe that you don’t have to have a $220-million payroll to win a championship,” Steinbrenner told Davidoff.
Initially it was thought that the Yankees were simply going to dip below the $189 million luxury tax threshold in order to reset their penalty. Right now they would pay 50 percent on everything over that amount starting in 2014, but if they get under the tax threshold that penalty will be reset to 17.5 percent. The Yankees were never really clear as to whether that was a one year plan or a long term plan, but it certainly sounds like we should expect a budget of over $21 million less than his father set about 10 years ago.
Hal did leave himself some wiggle room to potentially go above the $189 million plan, but he was vague when discussing it.
“All I can continue to tell everyone is our commitment to the fans is never going to change,” Steinbrenner said. “We will always field a championship-caliber team. Is our goal 189 next year? Yes. But only if I’m convinced if the team I see, that we’ve put together, is a championship-caliber team.”
What is a championship caliber team? This team could arguably be championship caliber, but they are right on the cusp of missing the playoffs too. Passing up Josh Hamilton types can be justified, but not being able to offer Eric Chavez $3 million seems like penny pinching more than a team that is satisfied that they are championship caliber.
This is when The Budget Boss starts sounding delusional.
“I’ve been resolute that that is our goal, and that is our goal. But I’ve also said, including spring training a year ago, that to achieve that goal, these young players have to step up and get the job done.”
That’s when Steinbrenner mentioned Manny Banuelos and Michael Pineda, two players coming off major surgery who won’t contribute in 2013. He’s seriously banking on players who won’t even contribute at all next year.
“I’m surprised to hear that there’s anger, if you see what we’ve done this offseason. …We’ve signed three or four of the top free agents that were on the market, because we’re going to continue to field a championship caliber team.”
Correction. What they’ve done this offseason is maintain the status quo in the pitching staff while downgrading the offense. Re-signing Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera and picking up an aging Kevin Youkilis while losing Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and Rafael Soriano is not something to exactly be proud of.
And as for the anger, it seems hard to justify an offseason where they have not been able to offer anybody besides Ichiro Suzuki a multi-year deal and have missed out on multiple potential fits because of it. They also missed out on Martin and Eric Chavez without even making offers to either players and they’re planning on starting the season with a catching tandem of Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli.
This while the Yankees are making record profits. The new stadium, although attendance went down last year (and will no doubt go down again this year), is still a cash cow for them. They get huge revenues from the YES Network and netted themselves a huge amount of cash while selling off part of their share in it. And they’re cutting payroll to levels lower than any since 2004 while missing out on key pieces that they could use.
“I’m not a big believer in extensions (before the contracts finish), but there are exceptions to every rule.”
One thing Hal “The Budget Boss” Steinbrenner is a big believer in — profits.