• Cashman: Yanks Will Not Sacrifice Opportunity To Sign Talent On Basis Of Reducing Payroll

    Posted by on January 23rd, 2010 · Comments (15)

    Well, that’s what Brian Cashman said seven years ago

    Reading about how the Phillies signed Jose Contreras – and, good luck with that Philadelphia! – got me thinking back to 2002…and this AP report that ran in USA Today on X-mas Eve that year:

    The New York Yankees’ need to cut payroll ends at the U.S. border. For the second time in less than a week, baseball’s biggest spender broke its budget for a big international acquisition, reaching a preliminary agreement Tuesday on a $32 million, four-year contract with Cuban defector Jose Contreras.

    Last week, the Yankees agreed to a $21 million, three-year deal with outfielder Hideki Matsui, Japan’s biggest slugger. The agreement with Contreras means the Yankees will have eight starting pitchers on the roster as soon as their deal to re-sign Roger Clemens is completed.

    “We couldn’t, the right word is we wouldn’t, sacrifice the opportunity to sign these talents on the basis of reducing payroll first,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

    New York had been cutting payroll, letting go of relievers Mike Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza, re-signing third baseman Robin Ventura at a pay cut and negotiating with Clemens to take far less than the $15.45 million he averaged under his last deal. Cashman has tried to trade outfielders Rondell White and Raul Mondesi, and pitcher Sterling Hitchcock.

    “The mindset is still for me to reduce payroll,” Cashman said. “Obviously, when the opportunities to sign Hideki Matsui or Jose Contreras presented themselves, it was time for us to make decisions, to move now and continue to work on cutting the payroll down the line.”

    Contreras, a right-hander who says he is 31, got the largest deal ever for a Cuban defector, topping the $14.5 million, four-year deal Cleveland gave pitcher Danys Baez three years ago. Contreras throws in the mid-90s, and the Yankees envision him as part of their rotation.

    …We couldn’t, the right word is we wouldn’t, sacrifice the opportunity to sign these talents on the basis of reducing payroll first…

    My, how times have changed in Yankeeland these days, no?

    And, it’s kinda funny how many times, in the recent history of the Yankees, that we’ve heard this Cashman edict of “Reduce payroll!”

    We’re hearing it now during the off-season of 2009-2010. The above AP report was from the off-season of 2002-2003. And, check out this AP report from the off-season of 2005-2006:

    The Yankees let Tino Martinez go, declining their $3 million option on the first baseman. Martinez returned to New York this year and hit .241 in part-time duty with 17 home runs and 49 RBIs. He was a staple in the Yankees’ lineup from 1996-01, helping the team to four World Series championships with his clutch hitting and reliable defense. Always a fan favorite at Yankee Stadium, he was brought back to provide insurance at first base for slugger Jason Giambi, who was coming off a 2004 season wrecked by illness and injury. But Giambi, now healthy, found his stroke as the summer wore on, pushing Martinez to the bench most games. ”At this stage, I’m trying to reduce payroll,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said at the GM meetings in Indian Wells, Calif. Cashman plans to meet tonight with Arn Tellem, the agent for Hideki Matsui. The outfielder’s contract says he must be re-signed by Nov. 15 or he’ll be released

    So, reducing payroll was Cashman’s plan for 2003 and 2006 – just as it is now for 2010. Seems like this is the Yankees G.M.’s mantra every three or four years? But, guess what, it never really happens, does it? And, has Cashman ever addressed the root cause issue of who’s behind the Yankees having an insane payroll that so badly needs reducing? Nah,…

    Comments on Cashman: Yanks Will Not Sacrifice Opportunity To Sign Talent On Basis Of Reducing Payroll

    1. Corey
      January 23rd, 2010 | 11:42 am

      If there is anything we’ve learned over the years about Cashman, it’s that don’t believe anything he says. I’ve seen reports from “insiders” that say he just says things to see them take off, and largely has fun with it.

    2. YankCrank
      January 23rd, 2010 | 11:52 am

      Corey pretty much nails it. Don’t buy what he says, which is why i’ll believe BG as our opening day LFer when I see it.

    3. Raf
      January 23rd, 2010 | 11:57 am

      So, reducing payroll was Cashman’s plan for 2003 and 2006 – just as it is now for 2010. Seems like this is the Yankees G.M.’s mantra every three or four years? But, guess what, it never really happens, does it?

      And this is a problem because?

      Cashman has added/reduced payroll where appropriate.

      Tino Martinez was let go, and Giambi was added. Nick Johnson was already there. Martinez was brought back, eventually pushed to the bench and Cashman thought that $3M was kinda expensive for a spare part. So he was let go again, replaced with a bunch of players that made less than Martinez did.

      Granderson replaces Damon’s production, Gardner should be able to replicate Cabrera’s production. If not, outfielders are a dime a dozen and can be picked up on the cheap and at anytime.

    4. GDH
      January 23rd, 2010 | 1:46 pm

      If anything, I’d question Cashman on some of the bigger deals (A-Rod, CC, Posada, Jeter, etc) where he might pay a little too much in order to make sure the deal gets done. When it comes to cobbling together extras to fill out the roster, seems like he’s been a pretty good cobbler in the last few years.

      The point of the offseason, is to improve the team. If you are inclined Steve, it’s a valid survey question: As of right now, this offseason, have the Yankees improved? I’d vote yes, but I’d be interested in the results.

    5. MJ
      January 23rd, 2010 | 8:03 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      And, has Cashman ever addressed the root cause issue of who’s behind the Yankees having an insane payroll that so badly needs reducing? Nah…

      Not sure what you mean by this. The root cause of having an “insane” payroll is that Yankee Stadium is always sold out, YES Network moonlights as the National Mint, the ownership is content to spend to win and fans in New York don’t seem to have the patience or tolerance for anything less than the best players possible. Given the team’s resources, its willingness to spend and the fans’ demands, I’d say those are some pretty solid root causes.

      You make it seem like Cashman straps the Steinbrenners down in a dentist’s chair and forces them to spend against their will.

    6. January 23rd, 2010 | 9:48 pm

      @ MJ:

      Well, if Cashman WERE able to build a championship caliber team on a payroll of, say, $150 million – which would still be WAY up there, but, not as INSANE as $200 million, then, he’d be able to cut his payroll and not have to strap down the Steins. But, as Cashman has shown, HE can only build a ring team by spending $200 million.

    7. MJ
      January 23rd, 2010 | 10:26 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      1) As usual, your arguments are moving targets. Your original point was talking about root causes. Now that I’ve made a credible rebuttal, you’re arguing a completely different point, without acknowledging my response.

      2) NYY pennant-winning payroll by year with Cashman as GM, courtesy of USA Today:

      1998: $63,159,898
      1999: $88,130,709
      2000: $92,938,260
      2001: $112,287,143
      2003: $152,749,814
      2009: $201,449,189

      The Yankees won three World Series with Cashman as GM under $100M and another pennant under $150M. The fifth pennant in this series came in at $2.7M over your arbitrary threshold.

    8. January 23rd, 2010 | 10:36 pm

      MJ – I meant $150 million in today’s payroll scheme – which means a payroll that is 2nd highest in baseball but still 25% less than the Yankees current payroll.

      You have to do the math to figure out what # that would be in 2001 and 2003.

      And, 1998, 1999 and 2000 were not Cashman built teams. He was merely the caretaker for those ring teams built by Stick and Watson.

    9. MJ
      January 23rd, 2010 | 10:40 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      MJ – I meant $150 million in today’s payroll scheme – which means a payroll that is 2nd highest in baseball but still 25% less than the Yankees current payroll.

      Arbitrary argumentation.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      And, 1998, 1999 and 2000 were not Cashman built teams. He was merely the caretaker for those ring teams built by Stick and Watson.

      Says you. But I don’t remember Watson and Michael acquiring Wells, Clemens, Knoblauch, Justice or Brosius — all major contributors to the 1998-2000 winners, nor do I remember the aforementioned predecessors to Cashman bringing in stalwarts such as Matsui, Giambi, Mussina or A-Rod that all contributed to at least one pennant apiece.

    10. January 23rd, 2010 | 10:55 pm

      @ MJ:
      Cashman just added or bought players to compliment those ring teams of 98-00. The scorecard tells you who formed the cadre of those teams:

      http://waswatching.com/2005/10/13/recent-gm-scorecard/

    11. Evan3457
      January 23rd, 2010 | 11:49 pm

      Oh, for Pete’s sake. Cashman’s not lying here at all. Not a bit. He isn’t changing his mind, either

      Will someone take notice that since that statement in 2002-3, the luxury tax has been put into effect?

      The Yankee payroll had its last major surge in 2005, and has been essentially unchanged since then especially when compared to the payroll increases in the 5-6 years prior.

      Here’s the figures from USA Today’s MLB salaries database:

      2009: $201,449,189
      2008: $209,081,577
      2007: $189,639,045
      2006: $194,663,079
      2005: $208,306,817
      2004: $184,193,950
      2003: $152,749,814
      2002: $125,928,583
      2001: $112,287,143
      2000: $92,938,260
      1999: $88,130,709
      1998: $63,159,898

      From 1998 until 2005, the payroll increased by about 19.5% per year. In 2006, Cashman made his statement about reducing payroll because the team ownership finally noticed the luxury tax bite, and became angry about paying competitors to beat them with their own money, and let him know in no uncertain terms that the payroll had to stop rising.

      From 2005 on, the payroll has been stagnant, meandering up and down, but actually declining slightly over the next 4 years in aggregate.

      OK, the Yanks spend five thousand eleventy billion dollars signing, Burnett, Tex and CC last year. However, they were also dropping six thousand twiddly-two billion in payroll in the form of the expiring contracts of Giambi, Abreu, Pavano, and Mussina. This is why (please read closely) the payroll was lower in 2009 than it was in 2008.

      As a teacher, one of the few things that truly annoys me is when the students keep repeating the same question or invalid explanation because they’re not paying attention. I know I sound like an arrogant prick here, and I apologize for the tone, but I’ve explained this several times here:

      The Yankee payroll is de facto capped at roughly $200 million a year, and has been since 2005.

      Don’t make me call your parents. ;)

    12. YankCrank
      January 24th, 2010 | 1:06 am

      I’ll gladly start criticizing our GM when he doesn’t put a team on the field that just had the best record in all of baseball and won a World Series.

      Until then, we sound a little spoiled here. Actually, a lot of spoiled.

      What is there to complain about? We didn’t win a World Series “on a budget?” Our GM just put a championship team together, but winning wasn’t enough because we spent too much doing it?

      This is what makes our fan base intolerable. We’re World Series Champions, teams like the Pirates, Rangers and Cubs would love to have our “problem.”

      My God, the popularity of our team and the success of our regional network make the Yankees able to spend all the money that they feel they want to spend. It’s not that Cashman “can’t” win on a $150 million payroll, it’s that he doesn’t “have to.” We’re not the Royals, we have resources that other teams don;t and we use them to our advantage.

      Once again, if you want to root for a team with a budget the Yankees are not that team. Let’s accept it and move on, please.

    13. Raf
      January 24th, 2010 | 3:16 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      @ MJ:
      Cashman just added or bought players to compliment those ring teams of 98-00. The scorecard tells you who formed the cadre of those teams:
      http://waswatching.com/2005/10/13/recent-gm-scorecard/

      Actually a better table can be found here;
      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/07/gm-trade-histor.html

    14. jdg
      January 24th, 2010 | 5:41 am

      A big part of the reason the Yankees payroll increased over the years is that ownership believed in signing big stars to big contracts. And the reason ownership believed in big stars is that they create big buzz and fill the stadium and create great ratings for YES and generate a pile of cash.

      Many other teams have the potential to do the same, including the Dodgers, the Angels, the As, the Giants, the Cubs, the White Sox, the Mets, the RedSox, and the Astros. Maybe in some cases their payroll would have to max out at $150m or $175m but they could do it. But they don’t. They don’t because they’d rather have a built in profit and not take risks.

      What Cashman has tried to do over the last few years is to get ownership to see the value of investing in the farm system and focusing more resources on pitching instead of would-be DHs and number three starters.

      What someone in YankeeLand has also done — I don’t know if it’s Cashman or Hal — is stop the silly practice of bidding against themselves. That’s why they got Pettitte at such a great rate last year, for example, and why they might do the same with Damon.

    15. January 24th, 2010 | 11:02 am

      [...] Cashman: Yanks Will Not Sacrifice Opportunity To Sign Talent On Basis Of Reducing Payroll [...]

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