Yes, Virginia, the Yankees do have a budget

34 Comments

If you Googled the phrase “buy a championship,” I suspect that the words “New York Yankees” would appear in approximately 92% of the results that came back.  For non-Yankees fans it’s simply part of the brand now. The assumption, held for years, that money is no object in the Bronx.

Except money is an object. At least relatively speaking.  Sure, the Yankees spend more than anyone else, but they do have a budget and an increasing reluctance to break that budget.  If you don’t believe me, go read Marc Carig’s story about that in the Star-Ledger this morning.

These Yankees work with budgets — yes, still the largest war chest in the game — but limits nonetheless … according to people with knowledge of the team’s thinking who requested anonymity to speak candidly, the Yankees came away from the GM meetings Thursday skeptical of their willingness to meet the asking price of top free agents such as pitcher C.J. Wilson or Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish.

Indeed, it’s so bad that Brian Cashman is actually sleeping on the streets like a homeless person!

I guess there’s a philosophical discussion to be had about the nature of the Yankees budget.  I mean, Bill Gates could have a budget. May in fact have one. As a point of principle he doesn’t want to be wasteful and he wants to set a good example for his kids, so he makes it clear that, say, the family can’t eat out at restaurants more than X times a month or something.  Say what you want about that, but it is, technically speaking, a budget. It’s just not the same kind of thing as one that the family with the unemployed parents and the big medical bills have.

And it seems to me that the key thing about a budget is that, if you can simply choose to break it and the breaking of it brings no real negative financial consequences, it was really only a budget in the most narrow, technical sense of that term.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

Getty Images
6 Comments

A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?