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I had promised a few readers an article on the PECOTA projections this morning, but will push that until next week because SG over at RLYW has suggested that their math is a bit off, and Colin Wyers has responded that they are looking into it. I will wait until there is more news on that before I discuss it.

Anyhow, Mike Lupica wrote a column this morning so ridiculously devoid of logic that it needed to be addressed. I am going to go at it FJM-style, addressing the most egregious suggestions made by the once-great writer whose opinions have, for the most part, jumped the shark.

The headline is that the Yankees have a budget. We are supposed to believe that this budget is the reason that Johnny Damon goes now. Sure it is.

Now you can take the Yankees at their word, buy this notion that they can’t spend $200 million on baseball players anymore. But if you do, you sort of have to wonder if the team really is rolling in dough, the way we’re constantly told.

Just because a team is “rolling in dough” does not mean that they should not have a budget. The fact that the Yankees were run as if they were a trust for fans for the last 30 years does not mean that they should be forced to operate that way in perpetuity. They have chosen to act like the business that they are, and maximize profits. Doing so requires setting a budget, so as to have some cost certainty when planning for the upcoming season. The Yankees are not cutting costs because they are running out of cash. Rather, they are doing so to try and become as efficient as possible.

But for now the story, and the Yankees are sticking to it, is that they’ve got a by-God budget. That they couldn’t afford what they say Damon wanted. Or what they thought he wanted. Or what they were afraid Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, might try to weasel out of them, because nobody can out-weasel Boras.

Really? Johnny Damon turns out to be the one guy the Yankees can’t afford? It would be like finding the one bar girl Tiger Woods didn’t want to take home with him.

Again, Lupica’s column shows a lack of understanding regarding a fairly basic concept. Lupica is trying to plant the idea that it is ridiculous for the Yankees to reject Johnny Damon after all of the money that they have spent on players. However, Johnny Damon is not “the one guy the Yankees cannot afford.” At this point, they have reached the line in the sand that they drew and therefore cannot afford anyone. This has nothing to do with them rejecting Damon in particular.

This Yankee budget, by the way, revolves around the completely arbitrary figure of $200 million. To them, it is some kind of magic number, even though nobody else in baseball spends anything close to that, has ever spent anything close, will ever spend anything close to that.

This is where the column loses me for good. Lupica baldly states that the Yankees budget is an arbitrarily drawn line when he has no evidence to that point. I do not think they need Johnny Damon, but it is hard to deny that he would help the 2010 Yankees. It is highly doubtful that they would not push the budget past 200 million for him if it was simply an arbitrarily drawn line. It is significantly more likely that they analyzed their likely revenues and projected costs and then came to a fairly precise figure that they were comfortable paying on salaries. To call the line arbitrary is a serious claim, and one that would require actual reporting and evidence to make.

But does anybody believe that Johnny Damon, who helped beat the Yankees in 2004 when he was with the Red Sox and played such a spectacular World Series for the Yankees five years later against the Phillies, has to go because of money? Or because Boras made Brian Cashman mad?

Let me see if I have this straight: Boras’ No. 1 top-dog client, Alex Rodriguez, got to opt out of his Yankees contract during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, show up the Yankees as much as anybody ever has, but that wasn’t a career-ender in New York?

Yes, I believe that Damon, who was a very good player for the Yankees, had to go because of money. I also believe that if Scott Boras had read the market a bit better and come down on his asking price prior to the Yankees signing Nick Johnson, Damon would likely still be a Yankee. Finally, I believe that Lupica is creating a storyline here that does not exist, by suggesting that they let Damon go due to problems with Boras and then comparing him to A-Rod.

Ignoring the fact that it was the Steinbrenners, not Cashman, who worked things out with Alex, the Yankees did not pass on Damon because Boras made them mad. As Lupica himself makes clear by citing the A-Rod situation, that is not the way the Yankees operate. They, like most properly run organizations, decide whether the player makes sense for them on the field and then make decisions based on that. The parallel to A-Rod is intellectually dishonest because it suggests a reasoning behind the decision that Boras himself has not claimed, let alone the Yankees. The Yankees’ sole issue with Scott is that he priced Damon out of their market and is now trying to suggest that they never entered the market.

You know what the bottom line is on this sudden bottom line the Yankees have? If they wanted Damon to play two more years here, he’d be playing two more years here. They just don’t want to say that. And for some loopy reason, they want to act as if they’re the victims here.

Lupica is suggesting that if the Yankees wanted Damon back, he would be back, and that they are simply covering up a lack of interest due to heretofore unrevealed reasons. However, the idea that “if they wanted him, they would have him” could be said about any free agent player and any team. If the Royals really wanted John Lackey, they could have offered him 25M a year and snared him. Again, Lupica misses a very simple point: the Yankees wanted Damon back, but only at their price. And quite frankly, they were right all along about Damon’s value, as evidenced by his difficulty even securing a one year deal. As Brian said on Hot Stove last night (h/t to YankCrank):

“We had a strong desire to have Johnny back, but not at all costs. We put a value on Johnny, shared that opinion on what that value was and Scott Boras and Johnny had a different value and a different opinion.”

Of course Cashman doesn’t want to be regarded as the guy who can only buy the World Series. Of course he wants to have the kind of rep as a personnel savant the way Theo Epstein and Billy Beane do. Of course he did make a whole series of terrific small moves to improve the ’09 Yankees.

Except: Except none of those moves matters if Cashman didn’t get to spend nearly a half-billion dollars on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira last winter! And if the Yankees don’t win this season, you can only imagine what happens to this new budget next winter if somebody like Joe Mauer is in play. What kind of money will they throw at him?

Here is where Lupica’s gloves come off and he makes a startling accusation, suggesting that Cashman is deliberately staying away from a player who can help the club to help his own reputation. This claim is ridiculous for two reasons. Firstly, Cashman has never had a problem spending profligate amounts before. He may have gotten a bit ornery with the media about the whole concept of buying a title, but at no point has he made the choice to stay away from a player he legitimately believed was a need to save money. The Mark Teixeira situation illustrates that point perfectly.

Secondly, Cashman does not set the budget, Hal and the other financial managers of the organization do. Blaming Cashman for the organizational policy is irresponsible and dishonest. While Cashman could go to Hal and ask for the budget to be extended, that sort of move is typically reserved for the game-changers of the world, such as Mark Teixiera. We have heard reports that Cashman was rejected by ownership when he had a deal in place for Mike Cameron at the trade deadline. Hal has tightened up the purse strings a little bit, and there is not much Cash can do about that.

Finally, Lupica suggests that the Yankees will disregard the 200M budget next offseason should they be unsuccessful in 2010. While this may be true, it simply ignores the fact that the budget is not a static number that applies uniformly to every season, nor should it be. They set the budget based on a number that they think gives them a chance to win and still be fiscally responsible. If, next offseason, they feel that it would be smarter for the club to have a 230M payroll and add Cliff Lee or Joe Mauer, and that they could sustain that payroll due to added revenues, it does not represent inconsistency. It shows an understanding of the marketplace and their place within it.

I also wanted to note that the fact that writers such as Lupica having decided to rip the Yankees for having a budget after years of ripping them for not having a budget is so incredibly ridiculous as to leave me speechless. I will let Mike Lupica circa 2000 do the talking (h/t to Craig):

The Yankees continue to live big and baseball dies a little bit at a time, even as this as treated like some kind of boom period. If you even suggest that there is something wrong with the assembly line we see working at Yankee Stadium, you’re just anti-Yankee. More and more the Yankees are treated, especially by the local media, like the company in a company town.

The same man, this very morning, wrote a column that criticized the Yankees for creating a budget and sticking to it. Only in NY, my friends, only in NY.

What did you think of Lupica’s column?

25 Responses to “Mike Lupica’s Failure In Logic Regarding The Budget”

  1. That’s the thing about Lupica; he’s completely delusional and writes a terrible column. You gotta admire him for that.  (Quote)

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  2. This exerpt from Wikipedia sums up Lupica well. He is from New England and has Yankee bashed as often as he thinks that he can get away with it.

    Biography
    Lupica spent his childhood in Nashua, New Hampshire and graduated from Boston College. He first came to prominence as a sportswriter in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Lupica wrote “The Sporting Life” column at Esquire magazine for ten years beginning in the late 1980s, and currently writes a regular column for Travel + Leisure Golf. He has also written for Golf Digest, Parade, ESPN The Magazine, and Men’s Journal, and has received numerous awards including, in 2003, the Jim Murray Award from the National Football Foundation.[1]

    Daily News columnist
    Lupica writes several sports columns during the week for the Daily News, as well as a signature Sunday column, “Shooting from the Lip,” which features a traditional column followed by a series of short, acerbic observations from the week in sports. He recently began writing a regular political column entitled “Mondays with Mike,” which is strongly liberal in orientation.

    Favorite Lupica targets include the New York Yankees, James Dolan, Isiah Thomas, Notre Dame football, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, former President George W. Bush, and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Lupica has also been a harsh critic of the new Yankee Stadium and was a vehement opponent of the proposed West Side Stadium. He has likewise been highly critical of the Atlantic Yards project and the attendant construction of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  (Quote)

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  3. What did you think of Lupica’s column?
    ————–
    I thought it was a completely illogical column demonstrating Lupica’s mastery of yellow dog journalism style and is an example of what happens when poor reasoning and flawed assumptions meld together on the written page. In short, if not for the discomfort I’d experience, I’d wipe my rear with this column.  (Quote)

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  4. My man I have only one question: “How are you not writing for a newspaper by now. Superbly analyzed and well written, as can be said about many of your columns on here. If I were you I’d send some of this stuff on to the Times or Post.  (Quote)

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  5. Lupica speaks in hyperbolic and inflammatory tones because there’s unfortunately not a lot of pub bestowed on those sportswriters that attempt to blend solid understanding and analysis of issues. Also, it plays to his base. How many readers of Lupica columns are impressed by advanced sabermetrics, the business value of budgeting, the consideration for moves years down the line; how many are even interested in digging beneath the bedrock of lazy commentary? Not many. Most Lupica readers are the same types likely to believe in “teh 8th” and other such nonsense. Lupica has a better developed understanding of his audience than a better developed sense of critical analysis. Either that or he’s simply a brilliant, well-paid troll. Either way, his columns don’t get me up in arms. There’s little upside to arguing with those that are willfully ignorant.  (Quote)

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    MJ Reply:

    JMK aka The Overshare: There’s little upside to arguing with those that are willfully ignorant.

    100% true.  (Quote)

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  6. I agree with everything already stated. He’s been a bitter little man for a very long time now. He’s the current Dick Young among NY sportswriters.  (Quote)

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  7. As a British Yankee fan, I wish we had guys like this Lupica character writing in the sports sections over here. It would give me a GOOD reason to get grumpy while on the way into the office in the morning instead of having to fasten on some unfortunate fellow commuter! :-)   (Quote)

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    MJ Reply:

    I’m surprised to hear that the British sporting press doesn’t take cues from other Brit tabloid journalists that sensationalize mundane topics and make boldface stories out of whether a certain Royal was “wearing knickers while on holiday” or whatnot. Isn’t that one of the stamples of the UK newspaper biz?  (Quote)

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    Tim Haveron Jones Reply:

    Oh yes, we have our fair share of journalists obsessed with the ‘celebrity’ side of sports. In fact, there is a whole concept over here of the ‘WAG’ – which came about when the Wives And Girlfriends (hence “WAGs”) of the England football team started accompanying them to international tournaments. There are now almost as many journalists to report on the WAGs as there are reporting on the football.

    The fundamental difference with the British media though is that whereas US newspapers are predominantly regional (and hence cover their local teams in depth) our daily papers are mainly national. Of course, there are local papers for each town – but not so many that would carry the sort of in-depth coverage of sports teams that one sees in the press in any major US city. If one also considers that while the MLB has 30 professional teams plus their associated farm systems, the English Football League has 92 professional clubs, one can understand how sports coverage over here is somewhat understated in comparison to the likes of Mr Lupica!

    Cheers

    Tim  (Quote)

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    MJ Reply:

    I don’t know much about the WAGs, but what I do know, I like. Many of them make American MLB wives pale in comparison… ;-)   (Quote)

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    Tim Haveron Jones Reply:

    Oddly enough, there is a WAG bombshell in the media this very morning. You can use it to further your education of the British media’s approach to sports reporting!

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2832058/Dad-of-Year-John-Terry-did-dirty-on-best-pal-Wayne-Bridge.html

    Cheers

    Tim  (Quote)

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  8. lupica is a little man in height and temperament, a hack rather then a journalist. go to another paper mike its time for a raise.  (Quote)

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  9. Lupica is a clown. Plain and simple. I think everyone in the blogosphere wanted to skewer that article today, lol.  (Quote)

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  10. Conjured budget to demonize Damon… brilliant.

    I wanted Damon back about as much as anyone could have. With that said, I can’t find fault with the job Cashman did this offseason. For me this all boils down to Scott Boras and his over reaching. It also seems clear that Cashman does not care for Boras’ horseshit and who can blame him?
    If you are told 2/14 is not even close and it took weeks to get to 2/20 with Nick Johnson looking to sign somewhere Cash has to pull the trigger. If Johnson came off the board with another team the Yankees would have been in Boras’ pocket – not a good position to be in.
    As for the budget not being expanded. We know that they tried to work a small deal with Damon at 6mil (half deffered). Do I wish it was 7 or 8, yes, but at some point if Cashman wants any negotiating power in the future he has to show there is a real line, or a truth behind what he says. I can’t fault that either.  (Quote)

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    MJ Reply:

    JeffG: If Johnson came off the board with another team the Yankees would have been in Boras’ pocket

    I completely disagree with this statement.

    Given that Damon is still unemployed with only three weeks before P’s&C’s report to camp, I don’t see what leverage Boras would have had over the Yankees beyond the fact that the Yanks would need a #2 hitter/primary DH. And even armed with that knowledge, the fact remains that Damon’s market is as limited in 2010 as Abreu’s was in 2009. The Yanks wouldn’t be overpaying for Damon when they rightly predicted that he wasn’t getting much more than $7M for one year.  (Quote)

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    JeffG Reply:

    Sorry I left this comment before I left work.
    I understand that you think Damon would have eventually smelled the coffee like he is doing now, bit at the time there were no good alternatives to Damon for a adequate 2 hoe hitter. If Damon were to get a contract at 2/20 then Cashman would have been shit out of luck.
    I do see what you are saying in that there could have been more patience practiced and that the Yanks could have waited this one out, banking on the outcome that we now understand to be the case, but you also have to see that Boras waited out the Dogers with Manny and the Cardinals with Holiday. Waiting on a player you need (and the key word is need) makes it really tough to get the contract you desire.  (Quote)

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    JeffG Reply:

    I tried to edit this comment… why it posted with “bit’ and not “but” along with other edits is beyond me… other than that I am half in the bag.

    Hindsight is 20/20. When we look at what Zito signed for you have to respect that maybe Cashman didn’t want to risk Damon signing for 2/20 and being left out in the cold.  (Quote)

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  11. Still waiting for a critical column on the Mets…  (Quote)

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  12. who pays attention to this guy anymore???? he blames the yanks??? he shoots from the lip alright not from the brain.. i have advice for him… they said 13 mil or else .. so now its buckle up time … cincy should be nice toronto also , does he need a passport…i’m sure boras will get him one.. i liked damon, but i called this last year.. he kept saying how he loved NY.. he didn’t love NY. he loved the double didget millions. complete fraud.. ask paulie if he would have done that.. a true yankee and tough competitor..  (Quote)

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  13. Oh I do love a good FJMing. Nice job, Moshe.  (Quote)

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  14. Dick Young is alive and well at the Daily News!!!
    The last day or two we’ve seen some serious Boras spins about the Yankees ignoring Damon for over six weeks (until Dec. 16). Check back over these same blogs:
    When Bobby Abreu got his 2/ $19 MM from the Angels in late October, everyone was saying that this was an ideal benchmark for a 2/$19 MM or 2/ 18 MM (arm discount) deal for Johnny Damon. To dispell such thoughts, Boras almost immediately issued his “Don’t call with less than 3/ $39 MM” ultimatum to the Yanks. Check the early November posts. Then in mid-December, as the Yanks continued pursuing alternatives, and getting close with Ncik Johnson, Boras reduced the years to two, but kept the $13 MM/ year demand, at a time when there was no solid assurances that Holliday or Bay were going to get $13 MM a year. After the Johnson signing, Damon finally offered to go for 2/ $20 MM (more than Abreu), at a time when 2/ $14-15 MM might have worked. Latest is he rejected a $6 MM/ one year deal last week.
    I love Johnny Damon as a player, and would have liked to have seen him in YSIII one more year. But there’s an old saw in the financial district, “Sometimes the Bears make Money, and sometimes the Bulls make money, but the Pigs never do.”  (Quote)

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  15. Lupica has, for some years and increasingly so, been doing what he accuses Cashman of doing: Sacrificing integrity to make a name for himself. Regardless of how many books he sells or what he makes from DN, he’s rather pathetic.

    Great job, Moshe!  (Quote)

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  16. Loved your article on Lupica. Let me add one year back I wrote a retort based on the constant Lupica Yankee bashing. I posted a message on River ave Blues. This post of course created a bit of controversy. Mike Lupica is a huge liberal. He hates everything about the Yankees and he favors a socialized cap on all teams. But his theory was ridiculous and he refused to attack those teams that benefit from the Yankees going over the cap such as the marlins and refusing to put that money back into the team. He also refuses to understand that if there were a cap the only ones to suffer from it would be the players as the owners such as the Steinbrenners would profit based on there TV deal. Now of course if the Yankees were a last place team there attendance would suffer but the Yankee name generates so much money and if you set the cap at say $150 million you are now saving the Yankees $50 million. Who benefits, the owner does. He refuses to set a lower cap on those teams that have a salary of $30 million. Why is he rewarding the owners and punishing the players. That is not socialism, that is fascism. Capitalism is where its a free open market where everyone has the ability to gain based on there performance. That is what Lupica detests much alike many of his liberal leftist hero’s. This latest article actually shows how phony and irresponsible he can be as a writer. Just wanted to say good job.  (Quote)

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  17. As much as I don’t want to see this happen, I want to see the reaction of all the “stick to the budget” types on these Yankee boards if we don’t win this year.  (Quote)

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