Yankees develop conscience, will cut payroll

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From the I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it department comes ESPN.com’s Buster Olney’s latest tweet:
Yankees finished org. meetings — they’re cutting payroll. I’m not sure yet by how much, but during season, expectation was to $185 mill.
$185 million would be the team’s tiniest Opening Day payroll since 2004. The team did drop payroll slightly last year, going from $209 million to $202 million, but it’s really hard to imagine that the team would open 2010 under $200 million.
The club is currently on the hook for almost exactly $150 million to Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Damaso Marte. That doesn’t count the $4 million due to Kei Igawa, who is no longer on the 40-man roster.
Chien-Ming Wang, Melky Cabrera, Chad Gaudin, Brian Bruney and Sergio Mitre are all arbitration eligible. Perhaps Wang will be non-tendered, but the other four figure to cost about $7 million total.
So, that’s 14 players at $157 million. Other spots will go to Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Alfredo Aceves and Phil Coke, all of whom make the minimum. Now we’re at 20 players and $160 million.
Still, that doesn’t count Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui or their replacements. If Hughes and/or Chamberlain are going to be rotation candidates, then a new setup man will be needed. The team will also want a couple of veteran reserves to fill the roles occupied by Eric Hinske and Jerry Hairston Jr. at season’s end. A backup catcher is another possibility, though Francisco Cervelli is a candidate for the job.
Could the Yankees really take care of those needs for $25 million? Pettitte, Damon and Matsui would cost at least $30 million to re-sign, and it’s hard to imagine the Bombers going a whole lot cheaper in any of those spots.
My guess is that the Yankees will be right around $200 million one more time. And they’d probably be doing the rest of the league a favor if they stayed there. While they might not have squeezed as much revenue out of their new ballpark as hoped last season, they still did remarkably well and they made a bunch of money as a result of their World Series victory. There’s every reason to believe the Yankees could squeeze both Matt Holliday and John Lackey into their budget if they really wanted to.

Study: West teams at a disadvantage due to jet lag

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JULY 14:  A Delta airlines plane is seen as it comes in for a landing at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Delta Air Lines Inc. reported that their second quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 4.1%, and also announced that they decided to reduce its United States to Britian capacity on its winter schedule because of foreign currency issues and the economic uncertainty from Brexit.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Every year, when the schedules are released, we often hear about the teams that have it worst. Almost always, those teams are West teams. According to MLB.com, teams in the West division of their respective leagues had the top eight most travel-heavy schedules in 2016. The full list:

Team League Division Miles
Mariners AL West 47,704
Angels AL West 44,945
Athletics AL West 42,119
Rangers AL West 41,128
Dodgers NL West 40,294
Giants NL West 39,341
Astros AL West 38,553
Padres NL West 37,363
Rays AL East 36,916
Red Sox AL East 36,896
D-Backs NL West 35,312
Yankees AL East 35,252
Marlins NL East 35,226
Rockies NL West 33,287
Blue Jays AL East 32,895
Orioles AL East 32,322
Braves NL East 29,236
Royals AL Central 29,077
Twins AL Central 28,948
Phillies NL East 28,351
Mets NL East 26,832
White Sox AL Central 26,538
Cardinals NL Central 26,451
Pirates NL Central 26,134
Brewers NL Central 25,620
Tigers AL Central 25,450
Indians AL Central 25,176
Reds NL Central 25,108
Nationals NL East 24,664
Cubs NL Central 24,271

The averages by division:

  • AL East: 34,856 miles
  • AL Central: 25,176
  • AL West: 42,890
  • NL East: 28,862
  • NL Central: 25,517
  • NL West: 37,119

The maps aren’t up for 2017 yet, but rest assured that West teams will once again have it worst. It’s easy to see why, taking a look at the map on MLB.com. If you draw a line to split Texas in half and go straight up through North Dakota, there are only eight teams to the left of that line, leaving the other 23 condensed on the right side. When West teams aren’t playing intra-division games, they are traveling. That’s often not the case for East and Central teams. The Phillies and Pirates, for example, don’t even have to leave the state to play each other.

As Gizmodo points out, a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a link between jet lag and performance. Sleep scientist Ravi Allada of Northwestern University analyzed 4,919 games, finding that teams that traveled East performed worse than those that traveled West. Allada and his colleagues adjusted for home field advantage and park effects.

Specifically, teams that traveled from the West to the East lost more often than East teams traveling West. They gave up more runs and scored less runs. They hit for a lower batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They gave up more home runs, accounting for most of the decline in run prevention.

There was a peculiar finding. Allada found that jet lagged home teams performed worse than jet lagged visiting teams. He hypothesizes that “teams may be more cognizant of their schedules when traveling away, thus mitigating jet lag effects,” he told Gizmodo.

The Braves ask Cobb County for $14 million more

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The Braves’ new ballpark in Cobb County Georgia is the gift that keeps on taking.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have asked Cobb County for $14 million for roads, walkways and other pedestrian improvements around the stadium the team has already paid for but which it says the county is responsible. The county says it’s not responsible for them and that it has already paid nearly $70 million for transportation improvements around the ballpark, including on privately-owned property in the mixed-use development.

The reason this isn’t settled: at the time the deal between the county and the team was struck, there was a provision for the county to pay for $14 million for certain improvements. The Braves, this past September, told the county that it wants to be reimbursed for these projects under that provision and that the $70 million the county has already spent shouldn’t count. For reasons, I guess. It’s a bit complicated, but the AJC story lays it out pretty well. The upshot seems to be “why didn’t the Braves say they wanted the county to pay for these things long ago?”

The answer to that question, I suspect, is “because the Braves have been treated as entitled corporate welfare recipients since this deal was announced and they have learned that they can get away with almost anything.”