Last week the Yankees proved that they are not susceptible to the national recession when they signed southpaw C.C. (Carsten Charles) Sabathia with a record seven-year, $161 million deal. When Yankees baseball on the field is poor, payment off the field is always the best in the majors.
While most teams are cutting back in preparation for revenue drops during the recession the Yanks keep spending and it’s no secret that the club lives by the mantra that championships can be bought.
“We’re having a lot of money come off our payroll, and we’re going to be aggressive on players we think could be terrific Yankees and be key components for us for 2009 and beyond,” Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman told The New York Times. “It’s as simple as that.”
The money coming off the payroll Chasman is talking about is the more than $80 million that the Yankees threw at Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu and Mike Mussina. New York’s payroll last season exceeded $209 million but will probably be less this year even with their new purchase.
For Sabathia, the deal is sweet. When everybody else is broke, he is now the highest paid pitcher of all time. With his new contract in New York, according to The Times, he will get paid $727,848 per game. Or you can break it down by inning, for which he will get paid $107,366 for each played. Or how about by pitch? That’s approximately $6,934 per pitch – and that’s counting balls and wild pitches. What a deal.
Sabathia joins an elite list of players the Yankees have thrown enormous amounts of money at. The last time the Yankees won a world championship, in case your memory is short, was 2000. And since then, the Yankees have outbid other teams in the majors for high-priced players like Jose Contreras, Gary Sheffield, Carl Pavano, Johnny Damon, Andy Pettite, Rodger Clemons, and Alex Rodriquez.
When you look at the list of these high-priced players, it should be concluded that the Yankees are the best team in baseball, yet younger, more consistent, less-paid players of the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are beating the pants off the Yankees. What gives here? Poor management? Lack of intensity? Players resting on laurels? I don’t know. What I do know is that this column would look a lot different right now if the money the Yankees spent in the last eight years turned out to be successful and the team had won five or so world championships.
If that were to happen, we would all (except those in pinstripes) be screaming for a salary cap. Remember the days then that topic was all over sports radio talk shows? So as it is right now, the Yankees keep spending money and keep losing. Everyone but the big-pocketed Yankees are happy. Throw away your money at big name players, we don’t care. You are no good. Now this is all written in 20/20 hindsight of course. It is easy to talk about the Yankees recent lackluster decade because it is a reality. It may be a different story next winter if the Yanks pull of a world championship and then have the money to pick up some other batting ace for $120 million. I might be a little more glum then.
As it is now, I love the Yankees. They are a good daytime drama unfolding. Will their money-spending experiment work? Does money win championships? And if so, at what price and for what length of time? How many championships is Sabathia’s record contract worth? Four? Three? Even one? I will watch with interest but will continue to cheer for the young, blue-collar teams like the Rockies and the Tampa Bay Rays.