There’s a profile of Hal Steinbrenner in the New York Times, talking about his leadership of the Yankees and his quest to bring down the payroll and get under the Luxury Tax threshold. Fun quote:
“My firmly held belief is that you don’t have to have a $200 million payroll to be world champion … And the historical data that led me to that conclusion is rock solid.”
Fun analysis from commenter silhouetted by the sea over at Baseball Think Factory:
5 times the Yankees have had a $200 Million payroll-2005 and 2008-2011-and they are the only team to ever have one. They of course won 1 World Series. Thus, teams with a $200 Million payroll have a 1 in 5 chance of winning the World Series.
Which, as others note, is way better odds than all teams in history without $200 million payrolls. Ahem.
OK, in all seriousness, Hal is right. You don’t need mondo payrolls to win it all. But you do need good, healthy baseball players. And the concern for the Yankees at the moment is that they don’t have enough of those. Payrolls, then, are sort of a red herring.
The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.
The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.
This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.
Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.