The More Things Change…


With no actual baseball to watch during the offseason, we often find ourselves rummaging through the fairly prodigious library at YF HQ. We have a few gems in the collection, but an old favorite is Fred Schwed’s How to Watch a Baseball Game. A taste:

For the past quarter century the New York team of the American League has done so much better than any of its sometimes changing fifteen rivals that it is shocking to many minds. Money, it is often charged, is the answer to this; they have money and they make money, and they buy up all the best players. However there are other clubs that have money and don’t win pennants and world championships with infuriating regularity. Worse than that, the Yankees do it with aristocratic detachment…

That’s from 1957, folks. (Illustration, from the book, by Leo Hershfield)

25 comments… add one
  • Aristocratic detachment.
    That’s elegant. I like.

    Sam November 17, 2005, 8:14 pm
  • I hate this time in the baseball season because this is the time of year when rumor takes over for fact. During the baseball season we all watch the games, but now that there are no games to watch so we are subjected to columnists who have nothing to write about… so you get crap like Bob Klapisch’s column in today’s Bergen Record. In it he suggests that the Mets should trade for Manny Ramirez (duh!). But they shouldn’t do it unless:
    1) they can dump Xavier Nady on Boston
    2) they don’t have to pay his salary
    3) they don’t have to give up Lastings Milledge, their best prospect
    Sure, Bob, we’ll happily hand over one of the best hitters in the game and our best player to the Mets, pay his salary, and take crappy players in return. No problem! Also John Henry will personally give everyone in the Mets front office a latte and a back rub.

    mattymatty November 18, 2005, 8:26 am
  • As we all know, last year Manny was available for the waiver price. Nobody took him. Why give up a lot now when you passed a year ago?
    The only substantive answer is that Minaya wasn’t the Mets GM at the time, and he does overpay, especially for Latins. Beltran was a stupid signing. Pedro was very good this year, but what about over the rest of the contract?
    Minaya may be willing to give up something of value for Manny, but it shouldn’t be Lastings Milledge, because no one is going to give much.
    Of course if the Sox would swallow $6 or $7 million a year it would be a different story,but Manny comes with a lot of baggage in addition to his great hitting.
    PS: Minaya will probably pay more for Delgado than the Evil Emperor will.

    john yf November 19, 2005, 1:45 pm
  • What baggage? Seriously? He’s mercurial, and there have been a handful of times that his efforts have been questioned (by me, admittedly), but to say he has generic “baggage” without clarifying what you mean is ineloquent and undescriptive. The only baggage he comes with is, as far as I am concerned, is $60M worth, in cash form. If the contract were even 85% of what it is, teams would be begging for his services, such are his talents and record of performance (just look at what Matsui signed for recently for comparison, or what Damon’s asking for – Manny at $16M per year would be a bargain). Look at his games played per year over his career and you’ll see there’s no shortage of health, which says something about his conditioning and off-the-field efforts, no matter whether he’s asked out of a few games over the last 5 years or not.

    SF November 19, 2005, 2:03 pm
  • “Beltran was a stupid signing.” I think you’re on your own with that one, John. If only the Yankees had been that stupid….

    YF November 19, 2005, 3:10 pm
  • Perhaps the Yankees would have been better off this year with Beltran, which is what I think YF is saying. But I’d be curious to know whether he thinks Beltran would have been a good or smart signing, particularly at the price he was demanding. Two different things, I think. I mean, the Yankees probably would have been better off if they had offered Pedro a two year $40M contract, too, but would that have been praised, appreciated?
    Similarly to John, I don’t think it’s fair to judge the Beltran signing as “stupid” quite yet, since he has like 14 years left on his deal. Time will tell.

    SF November 19, 2005, 6:19 pm
  • Theo tried to give Manny away last offseason and nobody took him up on it, fortunately. But that was last offseason. The closer we get to the end of Manny’s contract the easier it is to take it on. There seems to be an invisible line somewhere between the $80M that Manny was owed last offseason and the $60M he’s owed now.
    SF makes a great point (as usual). Who would you rather have: Matsui for four years, or Manny for three? The price difference isn’t incredible (8M) and both Boston and NY could afford it. Theres no comparison between the players, Manny is head and shoulders above Matsui, who is a good player in his own right.
    I’m w/ YF: I’d take Beltran on my team. The Mets overpaid (whats new?) but theres no problem with the player they got. He’s good.

    mattymatty November 19, 2005, 6:23 pm
  • Beltran’s career stats are .282 / 350. He’s had several good RBI years, but last year he had 78 rbis, and moved a better glove man out of center (and later ran into him and perhaps ended his career — look who they just traded him for).
    I’d be willing to bet he’s not going to average better than mid-80s rbis as a Met. That makes him a $5 – $6 million player, but instead he gets a salary and a length of salary that strongly influences who else can be signed. For YEARS. It was a stupid signing. They were better off with Cameron.
    Re Manny: Your salary stats are different than the ones I’ve read.
    And his baggage is obvious. About what other player in the major leagues do they say, Let X be X? No one I can think of.
    He’s the second highest paid player in baseball, and every year he asks to be traded. He doesn’t always run to first, he doesn’t always run in the field, he’s usually a mediocre fielder (although he seems to have the talent to be better), he disappears into the Green Monster DURING THE GAME … and he wants to play in a small market where the fans won’t bother him on the street. But he wants that small market team to pay him $20 million.
    He’s a great hitter, but he doesn’t always focus. The coach sat him down at one of the most important times of the year. He asked to sit down at another very important time.
    Isn’t that enough? I’d rather have Matsui.

    john yf November 19, 2005, 11:17 pm
  • The closer we get to the end of Manny’s contract the easier it is to take it on. There seems to be an invisible line somewhere between the $80M that Manny was owed last offseason and the $60M he’s owed now.
    This seems to be what the Nation is thinking. The proof is in the pudding. I don’t think anyone will offer equal value, or close to it, because of his salary. The Wild Card is Minaya. Don’t forget he went after Sosa too. He thinks the Mets need Latin stars.
    The Angels like Latin stars too, but with Guerrero and Colon on the payroll it looks like they’re cutting salary by letting some of their other players go as free agents.
    If Manny doesn’t go now and the Sox aren’t in the pennant race when the trading deadline comes, will someone give a lot of prospects? Obviously Manny could be a valuable cleanup hitter on a team in the thick of a pennant race. And another big chunk of his salary would be gone by then.

    john yf November 19, 2005, 11:26 pm
  • RBIs are a terrible stat to judge a hitter by. Theres no way that Cameron is a better player than Beltran. Remember, Beltran was hurt all last year, could have gone on the DL but didn’t because his team needed him in the lineup. No sane person would say that Cameron is a more desirable or better player than Beltran.
    Same goes for Mastui v. Manny. You can have Matsui. I’ll take Manny and I think most everyone who actually wants to win the game would too.
    I’m not sure being latin has anything to do with it, John.
    I can’t honestly speculate about them trading Manny midseason until they hire a GM -I’ve heard theres this really talented guy out there whos from Boston and has won a WS, maybe we should try to get him! If they hire Bowden or Beattie (please don’t hire either of those clowns) then its entirely likely that the whole roster could turn over between now and March.

    mattymatty November 20, 2005, 11:54 am
  • John YF: if you would take Matsui over Manny, then I’d love to be fielding a team against yours were we both GMs. Matsui is a good player, but Manny is a great one. There’s no argument on this issue, statistically or otherwise, no matter what Manny’s mecuriality might be. It’s like the debate last year that cropped up in places, particularly amongst semi-retarded Red Sox fans arguing that Foulke was in the same league as Rivera, a foolish argument if there ever was one no matter how vital a piece Foulke was for the Red Sox. I think Foulke:Rivera as Matsui:Ramirez may be a semi-reasonable analogy, performance-wise.
    The point I am trying to make is that if Manny’s salary was a tad less (it isn’t, of course), the Sox either a) wouldn’t be trying to move him or b) if they were trying to move him he’d be gone in 2 seconds, considering the price set by Matsui and soon to be reinforced by Damon and Giles.
    As for Manny’s salary, I believe he has 3 years and 60M left, a portion of which is deferred. I don’t know what data you are seeing that is different from that.

    SF November 20, 2005, 12:29 pm
  • If you think Latin has nothing to do with it, then you haven’t been following the Mets. Minaya has been explicit about this, in the press and in the Mets newsletter that goes out by e-mail.
    Two: Salary counts. When the Yankees were winning the World Series, they did NOT have the highest payroll, and they had a lot more flexibility to do what they wanted.
    Their philosophy was that it was better to have 2 O’Neills (or Matsuis) than one Manny. So the Sox have Ortiz and Manny, while the Yankees have Matsui, Sheff and A-Rod (the Yankees only pay A-Rod $6 or $7 million — the Rangers pay the rest). When they spent the big bucks, they spent it on pitching.
    Since George came back, he’s spent the big bucks. And they haven’t won the World Series.
    Look at what Manny’s and Schilling’s salaries have done to the Sox: they’re letting everyone go. Everyone knows Manny is a great hitter, but he hurts the teams ability to go out and get a number of good players.

    john yf November 20, 2005, 8:32 pm
  • The Yanks spend the big bucks on hitting as well. Giambi and Jeter will be making upwards of $37 million in 2006. Also, the Yanks are paying 2/3 of A-Rod’s salary, while the Rangers pay the remaining $8 million. In my view, that’s still a good deal.

    Nick November 20, 2005, 8:52 pm
  • John, you might want to do a little fact-checking before you post. As it is, it’s hard to take your criticisms seriously when your facts are basically completely wrong. Regarding A-Rod’s salary: the Rangers will be paying $6M, the Yankees the rest. That would be approximately another $19M, just so you know.
    A little math, for the record, and with no judgments rendered:
    A-Rod + Matsui + Sheffield = $50M, $44M payable by the Yankees.
    Ortiz + Manny = $26.25M

    SF November 20, 2005, 8:54 pm
  • I still can’t figure out how the sox were able to convince ortiz to sign for so little (relatively speaking). Must be the fact that he can’t play the field. I guess he loses some value as a result:)

    Nick November 20, 2005, 9:11 pm
  • SF,
    1) The Times disagrees with you about A-Rod’s numbers. Where are you getting your numbers?
    2) The Yanks won when Steinbrenner was not allowed to meddle. They spent less.
    Since the Boss came back, they win the pennant but not the WS.
    I may have the wrong numbers, but I think A-Rod, Sheff and Matsui cost less than Manny and Ortiz, even though Sheff got $12 or $13 million (see what one $2o million salary does?).
    BUT THE REAL POINT IS that’s how the old Yanks operated. They went for an abundance of $6 million players instead of one $20 million player.

    john yf November 20, 2005, 9:43 pm
  • John: EVERYWHERE. The Rangers are picking up about $6M a year of the $25M/year salary. It’s all over the web – I doublechecked all the numbers on all these players just to make sure even though my memories were correct – most annual salary info is available at ESPN, FYI. But try Google, it’s pretty useful sometimes.
    The main point is that if you are making comments and deriving your opinions from completely erroneous information (and your thoughts on Ortiz/Manny salary being more than the Yankees three are equally wrong) then your comments and opinions can’t be taken seriously. At all.
    For example, if I asserted that the Sox had an absolute bargain in Schilling because Theo signed him for 2 years at 2M per, and that proved how fiscally smart the Sox were and also how well they value aging pitchers, and continued to say that it was true even after presented with information to the contrary, it would be hard to take me seriously.

    SF November 21, 2005, 7:00 am
  • SF,
    Y o u   a r e   m i s s i n g   t h e   p o i n t .
    The Yankee teams that won the World Series did not spend their money the way the current team did. Stick realized that you can fill a lineup with high OBP hitters from 1 to 9 with $6 million players (Billy Beane comes close to doing it for a lot less). But when you spend 1/6th of your budget on one player, as the Sox do with Manny, it becomes harder to get 24 other good players. Not impossible, harder.
    The Sox would not give Manny $20 million today. The Rangers would not give A-Rod $25 million today. Will the Mets give Manny $20 million? If so they’re probably the only team that would. The Sox are obviously in a different position, because they’re already committed — but Theo did put him on waivers.
    The Yankees have a $200 million plus budget because they’re not willing to stop winning and bring up another batch of home-grown players like Bernie, Mo, Pettite, Jorge, Jeter and company. The Sox have discovered that keeping the payroll down becomes harder after you win the Series. Of course they would have liked to have kept Pedro and would like to keep Damon.

    john yf November 21, 2005, 9:37 am
  • The question is not, Is Manny a better hitter than Matsui?
    Of course he is (and Matsui’s a much better base runner, fielder and all-round citizen).
    The question is, Is a team better off giving Manny $20 million or Matsui $13 million?
    When Matsui cost $7 million (or whatever it was he got), he was a much better use of resources than Manny. Any GM would pay Matsui $7 million. So far, the Sox have not found any other GM who would pay Manny $20 million.
    The point is, Manny is too big a percentage of the payroll, and that limits other options, even for the super-rich Red Sox.

    john yf November 21, 2005, 10:08 am
  • I can’t answer any of your comments, John, because your arguments are based on nonsense, other than to point out that 1) Matsui is now making $13M, not $7M, so any comments about that $7M deployment is absurd – Matsui as a player is now judged on his $52M contract, not what he signed for 3 years ago. Just like Manny and his $20M. 2) A-Rod is making $19M from the Yankees, not $6M. So all your ideas are concocted in some sort of fictional world where nobody makes what you are saying, and your ideas about the Yankees (and Red Sox, and others, and the flexibilities of their payrolls and player acquisition abilities) are all based on this erroneous or obselete information.
    As for me, I made no comments about the Yankees’ strategy (or any team, for that matter). I only said that based on Matsui’s new contract (and maybe Damon’s and Giles’), Manny’s contract looks a little bit less overpriced. Not more moveable, mind you, but less inflated.
    As for “Matusi being a much better all-around citizen”, are you serious? Where do you get off saying something like this? Has Manny been arrested for anything? Does he have a massive porno collection? Does he run around stumping for W? Does he have a new girlfriend every two days? Not liking him not running out a grounder occasionally is no justification for a generically stupid comment like this.

    SF November 21, 2005, 10:33 am
  • You do like to argue SF. You pick on tangential points and hammer away at them even when it is said that’s not the point.
    Better all-round citizen = team citizen. Using “citizen” like this is practically a cliche in sports writing. It’s not obscure or hard to understand.
    I said A-Rod’s salary is NOT my point.
    This part of the thread started when mattymatty or someone else made the proposal that Manny’s “only” owed $60 million, and other teams now want him.
    As I said then, the proof is in the pudding. Will anyone other than Minaya trade for him? Will Minaya trade for him?
    I think the answer to part one is “No.” And that if Minaya trades for him, it will be another dumb move by Minaya. (NB SF: I’m not saying he ONLY makes dumb moves. But he does make them.)
    Could you address the real points here instead of bringing up A-Rod one more time?

    john yf November 21, 2005, 11:31 am
  • I am not arguing your rightness or wrongness. For all I know some of what you say me be spot on. But your positions have no credibility as they have been posted in this thread. They are based on scenarios that do not exist. Your opinions are grounded in the thinking that certain players make certain amounts of money, and that those salaries indicate either management’s poor judgment, or indicates management’s wise abilities to control paychecks and derive “good value”, or that they indicate management’s abilities to make “stupid” moves. But your facts are wrong, and therefore your theories are fallacious. I have no real opinion on whether what you are saying is insightful, since you base your opinions on fiction.
    Again, as soon as I assert that the Sox were smart in trading for Schilling and then getting him to agree to a paycut to just $1.5M a year, and how that brilliant piece of money management fee allows them to go after Josh Beckett and AJ Burnett then please, do feel free to tell me I am full of it, and that I am offering an assessment of the Sox’ front office abilities based on my own fantasies. That’s effectively what you are doing, and that’s my real point.

    SF November 21, 2005, 11:50 am
  • SF –
    What thread are you reading? I didn’t say you’re full of it and didn’t comment on that aspect of Schilling.
    I don’t know the details of Schilling’s contract. I didn’t know the Sox were going after Beckett until I saw the article about the Rangers. When I brought them up it had nothing to do with you and was not a comment on you.
    This part of the thread started when mattymatty said, “There seems to be an invisible line somewhere between the $80M that Manny was owed last offseason and the $60M he’s owed now.”
    That line exists only if GMs agree with mattymatty. I don’t think they do agree. That has nothing to do with Beckett, A-Rod or Schilling.

    john yf November 21, 2005, 2:24 pm
  • Well, as you say, John, the proof is in the pudding. If the Red Sox trade Manny this offseason then your assertion is wrong. The shorter the contract is the easier it is to trade a player because 1) it is more difficult to predict financial issues in the future; and 2) there is less of a long term financial commitment involved.
    So, each year that passes on Manny’s contract makes it easier to trade him. Thats why I said theres an invisible line between $80M and $60M – last year they couldn’t give him away, this year there is rampant speculation that he could be traded.
    And not just to one team. There has been talk about trading Manny to the Mets, Angels, Diamondbacks and Dodgers. The fact that these teams are mentioned in the papers (which is where I heard about all of them, either the NYT or the Boston Globe) means that the teams have had some discussions, which means there are teams that under certain circumstances would trade for Manny.

    mattymatty November 21, 2005, 3:32 pm
  • Mattymattymatty,
    It will happen or it won’t.
    I don’t think it will happen, except for possibly to Minaya. Perhaps the Angels are also a possibility.
    You think it will happen. It won’t upset me if it does happen.
    Time will tell. Maybe Newsweek.

    john yf November 21, 2005, 5:17 pm

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.