The Budget Crisis Hangover 50


HANK STEINBRENNER MAKES IT RAINUp until a few weeks ago, it was the opinion of this author that the Yankees would be fine in 2013, but would be screwed in 2014. It’s amazing how a few weeks can change everything. While I will fall short of saying the Yankees will not compete this season since their rotation is still one of the best in the league, at the least it is safe to say it will be a challenge for Joe Girardi and Co. to stay afloat.

Amidst news that Steinbrenner could be abandoning the 2014 austerity budget plan, count me amongst those who think that it’s a foregone conclusion that the unpopular policy is already dead. While the policy is gone, the effects will be felt all through 2013.

Until a few weeks ago, it was promising that the Yankees could, and probably would compete. Nick Swisher’s power was not replaced, but Ichiro could make up for it in other ways and would play better defense. Russell Martin was gone, but he was a wreck at the plate last season anyway, and there was hope that Austin Romine could step in as a viable replacement. A-Rod was out, but Kevin Youkilis would provide some relief on that front. Who knows, the Yankees might even be better off without Alex. Yes, Jeter and Mo were coming off injuries, but come on, they are Jeter and Mo! At that time, I was still a believer.

Then Curtis Granderson goes down with a serious injury after being hit by a pitch. That one hurt, but most saw through Granderson’s power numbers and were not impressed with his lack of ability to hit for average anyway. Then in a moment the Yankees chances in 2013 took a major hit when Teixeira went down with a serious injury. It’s an injury he and the Yankees will have to be extremely cautious with, because they have a tendency to linger and ruin careers. Not that this last part was a surprise, but subsequently Austin Romine was sent down and it was announced that none other than Francisco Cervelli was going to be the opening day starter at catcher.

The Yankees are now left with a team sapped of power and are being forced to make signings like Brennan Boesch. This all comes down to what I like to call “the budget crisis.” It was short-lived, but the lessons from it will never be forgotten by Hal Steinbrenner. Bad things happen when the New York Yankees stop spending money. To be completely fair to Steinbrenner, no one could have predicted these two Spring Training injuries. The injuries, however, would not have been as significant if the Yankees were trotting out Nick Swisher in right field and Russell Martin at catcher. In fact, Swish could have even played first.

Hal’s punishment for his mistakes is what will amount to a one year hangover following the budget crisis.

As bad as 2013 has the potential to become, however, it actually improves the outlook for 2014. If Hal Steinbrenner has even a smidgen of the old man in him (and I think deep down inside he does) then he will spend with a vengeance for the 2014 team. Robinson Cano won’t be going anywhere. Hal and Cashman will have free agents such as Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Brian McCann, Tim Lincecum, Matt Garza, Hunter Pence, Curtis Granderson, and Nelson Cruz to throw money at. Someone will bite.

All money aside, the Yankees top four prospects will all be knocking on the door by 2014 if all goes right. In fact, nine of BBDP’s 10 best prospects in the Yankees organization should all be in Triple-A or above by 2014. Furthermore, 14 of their top 20 will be in Triple-A or above. It’s also possible one or two who are in Triple-A and above in 2013 could show they belong. Any and all of these players could also be used to obtain big bats in a trade. Let’s be real though, prospects aren’t what is going to save this team in 2014, spending money is.

The last time the Yankees won a World Series was also the last time they went on a spending spree. Obviously such spending cannot happen every year, but nothing close to that amount has been spent ever since. 2008 was also a year when the Yankees missed the playoffs. 2013 is shaping up to be that type of season.

The 2013-2014 off-season is teeing up to be a big year of spending for Hal Steinbrenner and the Yankees. All of the ingredients to a Steinbrenner spending spree are slowly mixing together in a container of shame, bad luck, and failure.  It took four years of frugality and no championships to reach that point, but the Yankee way will be restored soon enough.

Let me go on the record as saying that I don’t think anything Steinbrenner did was wrong in trying to get the budget under control. A few things happened that were out of the team’s control and thus the plan failed. That said, Hal knows it’s time to pick up the pieces the only way a Steinbrenner knows how, by making it rain on the MLB.


50 thoughts on “The Budget Crisis Hangover

  • Luke

    Spending money? Really? That's why we're in this mess in the first place. We're paying mega bucks for stars who aren't producing.

  • dirtywater

    Greg-
    Hold on….the Yankees are spending more this year than last year and the team isn't strong. So next year when they actually have to cut spending somehow thats gonna be better?

    Do I have to shake blue and white pom poms when I read this to believe it?

    And you got it wrong Greg, they can't spend until 2014-15 IF they get under the lux tax in 2014.

  • thomas

    Greg. What pitchers were out there to sign which in reality would have signed with the Yankees and didn't? Martin would not have made up for the lost of tex and grandy. I would guess that he would have been worse this year than last. Swisher was getting too expensive to keep even if there were no budget concerns, after two more years he will be below average and still getting a ton of money for 3 more years. There will be less and less free agents on the market next year because teams are resigning their guys before they hit the open market. Each team is making a ton of money now than in the past. So even if you have all the money in the world to spend, it will not make a difference. The free agent game has changed and if the Yankees don't change as well, they will be forever in the has been. So far as this year is concerned, I believe that the Yankees will not win over 90 games but neither will any other team in the east division. Each team has improved so much that they will beat each other up all year so that the division champion will be at around 88/89 games and the Yankees will be right there in the mix.

  • Michael Baker

    everybody hates this team i actually like this team and i love the pitching…..i think its about time the yankees win another way then the homerun but the real question is what are they gonna do next year when kuroda leaves,pettitte leaves and mo leaves but this year there all here and im happy

  • Michael Baker

    i really hope they do well until the guys get heathcott,williams,austin and sanchez are ready and when they are i think a yankee dynasty will start again like it did in 1995

  • Yankee$

    Donald Trump should buy the team… Free hair for everyone! Life is short like the Yankees – Move on.

  • Mark Panuthos

    Excellent pitching staff?

    I'll give you one and two (that's a big concession, considering CC had surgery and that Kuroda doesn't regress).

    Pettitte won't last the season without an injury
    Mo is 42 years old
    Hughes – really?
    Robertson – he's a definite maybe
    Chamberlain – love his potential, don't much love his reality. a definite maybe.

    Sorry, not seeing the "excellent" part.

  • E.C.

    As far as I'm concerned, it is not my money, so if Hal wants to spend in 2014, by all means, I won't stop him. That being said, I have a number of issues with the premises laid out in this article. It is not that I don't believe you have sources that are saying he might abandon the Budget, but it is the arguments you put forth, that as a result of increased spending in 2014, the Yankees will be a better team for it. In regard to one of the comments, the Yankees are a privately held corporation; and as far as I know, GB Packers are the only publicly held sports team. Hal does not have any shareholders to appease.

    Issue 1: "Throwing Money" at 2014 Free Agents

    Looking at that list above which starts with Wainwright, he is the only player worth spending money on. Everyone else is an average player, at best. Sure, pure speculation on my part, but indiscriminately throwing money at free agents is not a sound business model. The contract it will take to sign Wainwright, if he has the kind of season projected by baseball people, which is Top 3 in NL Cy Young, you are looking at a minimum of what Greinke got this offseason. Wainwright turns 32 this season, and anything above a 3 year deal is extremely risky at best, not accounting for the fact, an extension isn't signed first. On the FA market, if he has a competent agent, he will be asking for at least 5-7 years. The Yankees have a track record for overpaying free agents, who end up as busts when all is said and done. CC has been the only good free agent signing in at least a decade. More about this below. Of course that is not true in reality, but reality in the terms of the Yankees fans' and analysts, the Yankees did "nothing" this offseason. Looking with a discerning eye, that is clearly untrue. Free agent contracts have become outrageous overpays in the last few years. These contracts, are at least a contributing fact, leading to this cost cutting purgatory.

  • E.C.

    Issue 2: Spending money guarantees a winning/successful team.

    The Yankees have won one World Series in the last 12 years. Sure, they spent all of that money in 2009 and won a championship. But how are those contracts looking now? A.J. Burnett couldn't even make the postseason rotation in his second season, and he was throw out with the bath water before his contract was completed. How is Teixiera's contract looking? The last three seasons his stats have taken dive off a sheer cliff, with jagged rocks at the bottom. If not for his superior defense ability compared with almost any other 1B in the league, fans would be begging to have him shipped out of town. Sabathia? So far, completely worth it. He is a stud and workhorse. But he is coming off of elbow issues last season, and elbow surgery in the offseason. He turns 33 this season. We have him locked up for 5 more years. If he averages out as a No. 3 starter for the rest of his contract, then best deal the Yankees have made since Scott Brosius. If you define successful as making the playoffs every season only to be humiliatingly knocked out in the First Round, then by all means, beg Hal to spend. By continuing the past spending patterns, that is the fate for which the Yankees are destined. Again, if that sounds good to you, make it rain. That does not sound good to me. In fact, I would rather the Yankees miss the playoffs for the next two years, and have a potential outfield of Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and Gardner/Heathcott/Z. Almonte, with G. Sanchez at catcher and Angelo Gumbs at 2B. Granted, prospects rarely pan out, but these are all above average to lower end elite players for pennies on the dollar, if they come close to their potential. Call me a terrible fan (you won't Greg, but probably another commenter will), or some other negative name, but I like the chance of being a perennial WS contender with elite young talent for a decade, than a ceiling of repeated early eliminations. With the new Wild Card game, it is not out of the realm of possibility, that should this out of control spending continue, the Yankees are eliminated in the Wild Card game 3 out of the next 5 seasons. Give me losing seasons over perpetual mediocrity.

  • E.C.

    Issue 3: The Yankees would have been better off re-signing Swisher and Martin.

    Martin's 2012 line: .211/.311/.403. With a steep decline starting 5 years prior. If that is not enough, I would be willing to wager that the Cervelli/Stewart/Romine platoon ends up being more valuable then Russell Martin this season. That all that needs to be said about that.

    If Swisher's 2017 option vests, he will become the highest paid player in Indians' franchise history. You should read the previous sentence again. Go ahead, I'll wait. Finished? Well, considering the teams they had in 1995 and 1997, that is laughable. Not to mention the numerous Hall of Famers to play on the Indians at some point. Give me David Justice, over Nick Swisher any day. Anyway, to have Swisher for this year, the Yankees would have likely needed to come close to the Indians' offer. For argument sake, let's say he matches his 2012 line (which I think he doesn't come close), what does Swisher give you that is better than approximately 5 weeks of random platoons and the rest of the season of Granderson? Is it worth it to pay him $50+ million to play for a month in the outfield and cover for Tex at first for however long he remains injured? That is what re-signing Nick Swisher gets you. I'll pass. If the parade of scrubs manages to hit .240/.320/.410 with 5HR, 8R, 10RBI in the first 5 weeks, consider it a push.

  • E.C.

    Last Issue: Re-signing Cano

    If its true that the Yankees are saving up to pay Cano, then they are about to make a more asinine transaction, than trading for Vernon Wells. If recent large contract haven't taught the Yankees that contracts for 6+ years, for players 30 and older at the time of signing are a bad idea, then I don't know what will. Cano appears intent on testing the market, and you know some fool, in some front office will think it is a good idea to offer 9-10 years, ~$230M. The Yankees will not and should not offer anything over five years $100M. We all know Scott Boras will decline such an offer faster than it takes to shred the paper on which the offer is written. It has been well noted that Cano has a terrible work ethic, and clearly shows no hustle whatsoever. I for one will be cackling like a hyena being tickled by a feather, when whatever team signs him, ends up stuck with an average player with 5 years left on the contract.

    I for one, hope that Hal has some cajones, ignores the chatter of the fans, and sticks to his plan of cutting the payroll under $189M. If a team needs a payroll above $200M to be competitive, the baseball executives need to reconsider their effectiveness at their own jobs. I am calling it now, the Dodgers do not make the playoffs this season. You heard it hear first folks. I ask all Yankees fans to join me in hoping for reduction of payroll, otherwise we can all look forward to the Yankees becoming the New York Knicks of baseball.

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