Hal Steinbrenner was just on the radio with Michael Kay, and Marc Carig tweeted an interesting quote from the interview:

Hal on payroll: “I can safely say we’re going to stay at the same level.”

This is important information, as it allows us to gauge how the Yankees will approach the offseason. They started 2010 with a payroll of 213 million, and currently have about 145 million tied up in 16 players. That leaves 68 million available for the club to spend in order to stay at the same level. Assuming Derek Jeter gets about 20M, Mariano Rivera gets 15M, and Andy Pettitte returns at about 10M, that leaves 23 million to fill out the roster, with the only real hole remaining being in the rotation.

This means that while the Yankees will target Cliff Lee, they are unlikely to sign any other big name free agents if they can snag the star lefty. Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford are not going to be Yankees, unless Brian Cashman pulls a “Teixeira” and asks for an expanded payroll due to special circumstances. Being that the Yankees do not have real holes in the outfield or the lineup, I doubt he does that again. The Yankees will attempt to sign Lee, and use whatever remains in the budget to sign a cheap lefty reliever and possibly a bargain DH/bench bat. Based on Hal’s statement, there isn’t room for anything else.

Nov 022010

Maury Brown checks in with a tidbit on a rule change that I only learned about last night:

Brian Wilson had barely gotten the last out in the deciding Game 5 of the 2010 World Series, when MLB’s Hot Stove season began in earnest. As 2010’s season ends, the information passed on by the MLB Players Association shows that baseball season really never ends.
Following the final out of the 2010 World Series, the below 142 players became free agents pursuant to Article XX B (2) of the Basic Agreement.
Per recent changes to the free agent provisions of the Basic Agreement, the exclusive negotiating period for free agents and their current clubs has been shortened to 5 days (from 15 days). Beginning the sixth day, free agent players are eligible to negotiate and sign with any Club.

This means that free agents can sign with new clubs starting on Sunday, such that it seems likely that Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera actually get to free agency. However, it seems pretty clear that both will sign, so the shorter deadline is more relevant in terms of targeting players from other teams. Click through to see the list of 142 free agents. I went through the list and picked out the players that I could see the Yankees at least kicking the tires on, depending on how some of the dominoes fall:

Derrek Lee
Ty Wigginton
Xavier Nady
Joe Beimel
Will Ohman
Hiroki Kuroda
Brian Fuentes
Ron Mahay
Pedro Feliciano
JC Romero
Jayson Werth
Jerry Hairston Jr.
Jake Westbrook
Joaquin Benoit
Carl Crawford
Cliff Lee
John Buck
Scott Downs

Most of this list is made up of lefty relievers and right-handed bats for the Marcus Thames role. There are only a few bigger names, with Cliff Lee obviously the most significant prize.

Did I miss anyone? Is there anyone who you would remove from this list?

Stress Free

Posted by Matt Imbrogno at 11:00 am 1 Response »
Nov 022010

Congratulations, San Francisco. You’ve waited a long time to have your baseball team win a championship, and last night, they did. The Giants played fantastic baseball in the playoffs and definitely deserved to win.

At this time last year, you and I were waiting patiently for the Yankees to record the 27th out of their 27th championship. While the game wasn’t that close, a World Series clinching game is always stressful. And while I would obviously have rather dealt with the heart wrenching and mind numbing stress that comes from being a fan of a team in the World Series, it was nice to relax while watching the World Series.

I’d be lying if I didn’t do a little fist pump when Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz to end the 2010 World Series. However, it wasn’t a big fist pump. It was more in the modest Derek Jeter mold rather than in the big time Joba-Andy-A.J.-CC mold. I had a rooting interested, but it wasn’t exactly deeply rooted.

The Giants were my pick in this World Series for two reasons: I grew to dislike the Rangers a lot during the American League Championship Series (Claw and Antlers, scraggly beards, Texas flag waving by the fans) and the Giants were in a semi-roundabout way, the closest thing to a New York team involved in the World Series.

Still, if the Rangers won this game (or the series) I would not have been all that upset. With no serious rooting interest, it was great to just watch the World Series for its won greatness, even if I had to watch on crappy non-HD broadcast FOX for Games One through Four. A lot of times, we get wrapped up in being Yankee fans and forget that we can watch and enjoy baseball games that don’t involve those teams.

Tim Lincecum pitched a hell of a game last night and it was an absolute joy to watch him work. Cliff Lee pitched pretty damn well, too and the game moved quickly and (relatively) cleanly. When you don’t have to deal with the stress of rooting, watching some of the best players in the world do their things on the baseball diamond can be even more rewarding.

Sadly, the last out last night was the last out of the 2010 season and we won’t see meaningful baseball until the 2011 season starts. Luckily, we had a great game to go out on.

Not just the president, but also a client

Some folks have been backing up comments made by Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg last night. Here’s a sample:

John Harper NY Daily News:

Let’s face it, there is a segment of Yankee fans that seems to think being obnoxious is part of the job description.

I can tick off a list of dozens of people I either know personally or have heard from via e-mail that have had awful experiences taking in a game at the Stadium because of some fans who are vulgar as well as loud-mouthed, and usually well-lubricated.

And this is coming from mostly Yankee fans themselves, often who regretted taking their kids to the game and exposing them to such language and behavior. Some regretted it even more when they appealed to the loud-mouths to show some regard for the kids.

Mike Silva NYBD:

Look, you can’t generalize about all Yankees fans. Many of that I deal with on in the blogosphere are great, whether it’s the guys from The Yankee U, Nomaas, or over at River Avenue Blues. I enjoyed doing postgame shows with Neil Keefe of WFAN as well. These are just a few. I can name so many more.

This behavior isn’t regulated to Yankee Stadium (see Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia), but I sense the winning has created a malaise over the fan base. The Stadium is almost a separation of two classes: The elite who are there to be seen, and the serfs who enjoy the booze more than balls and strikes. You almost feel the real fan is squeezed out more every year.

The other problem is the new generation. Yankees fans are spoiled, especially the kids who started watching them in the nineties. Can’t beat Texas? Just sign Cliff Lee. Brett Gardner not cutting it? Sign a supersized version in Carl Crawford. Nick Swisher can’t hit in the playoffs? Bring me Jayson Werth. Unfortunately this type of attitude is permeating more throughout the fan base. Isn’t this kid a perfect example of the modern Yankee fan?

Some will say this is jealousy and that couldn’t be further from the truth. They have every right to spend their money. The last fifteen years have created a brand that will stream endless revenue indefinitely. That power creates the reality that passion has turned into entitlement. Greenberg did nothing more than state the obvious. I think the fans in Texas have done a great job and deserve a winner for years to come. Hopefully Cliff Lee recognizes that and stays close to home.

It’s clear that the new Stadium will be an entirely different one than the place that no longer exists across the street. I feel for the old time fans because they just have to accept this isn’t your fathers Yankee fan. Even worse it might be too late to take your fan base back.

While both made an effort to say this stuff goes on elsewhere, they still distinguished this generation of Yankee fans and the crowd at the new stadium from that of the old versions. This simply isn’t true. I’m 41 years old, have been a season ticket holder for many years and playoff crowds have always been different than in the regular season (exception being 1996). The expensive seats are largely owned by small and large corporations and used for entertaining clients or as a perk for their employees. During the regular season, seats get handed away liberally to employees and their kids who are fans of the team.  But playoff tickets are a hot commodity, so these wind up getting used by the higher ups and their best clients, many of whom only have a passing interest in the team. It’s always been this way, new facility or old. Some folks either aren’t at these games or just have selective memory. Also, the Yanks are in the playoffs every year. You can’t expect their fan base to get as excited as one who’s made it to the ALCS for the first time in decades or in their history. This doesn’t translate into “apathy”. The Yanks lead all of baseball in attendance and have for many years. Greenberg doesn’t want to be comparing tickets sales to make his case. Yankee fans spend their money and show up, whereas the supposedly ‘real’ fans of other cities do not. Was the stadium quiet this year during the ALCS? Absolutely. Did anyone notice the scores of some of those games? The Yanks got blown out in this series, their offense fell asleep and the pitching was lopsided in favor of the Rangers. So the crowd was largely taken out of it. I don’t know what they do in Texas, but in New York we don’t cheer at funerals.

Next, anyone who thinks the current Yankee stadium has a problem with violence and pines for the ‘good old days’ should watch this. Security is tight, it’s better than it ever was in the old building and there’s an attendant at every entrance to the seating areas. Police are everywhere and when fights occur, they get broken up within a minute or two. The fans are not only ejected, but charged criminally as well. If one of the participants is a season ticket holder, those seats can be revoked. It’s not as if there’s a lax attitude on the part of ownership that cultivates bad behavior, every step is taken to prevent it. But again, in a crowd of 50,000+ where alcohol is being served, stuff happens. There are obnoxious fans in just about every city that cares about Baseball, Chuck just happens to come from an area that is and always has been ruled by the Dallas Cowboys.

This entire episode could have been avoided with one simple word. “Some”. Had Greenberg or the folks who backed him up said “some Yankee fans” are violent, apathetic, rude, obnoxious and are child molesters with bad breath then I and most Yankee fans would have no issue with it. In any crowd of 50,000 people you’re sure to get some of the good and bad in any region. But in saying “Yankee fans” you include all of us, and that’s just wrong. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go kick my dog, beat my wife and physically attack a random stranger.

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