• Lupica: Cashman’s Budget Excuse Is Smoke Screen For Truth

    Posted by on January 29th, 2010 · Comments (26)

    What Mike Lupica is saying today -

    The headline is that the Yankees have a budget. We are supposed to believe that this budget is the reason that Johnny Damon goes now. Sure it is.

    Now you can take the Yankees at their word, buy this notion that they can’t spend $200 million on baseball players anymore. But if you do, you sort of have to wonder if the team really is rolling in dough, the way we’re constantly told. Printing money like they’re the Goldman Sachs Yankees.

    But for now the story, and the Yankees are sticking to it, is that they’ve got a by-God budget. That they couldn’t afford what they say Damon wanted. Or what they thought he wanted. Or what they were afraid Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, might try to weasel out of them, because nobody can out-weasel Boras.

    Really? Johnny Damon turns out to be the one guy the Yankees can’t afford? It would be like finding the one bar girl Tiger Woods didn’t want to take home with him.

    This Yankee budget, by the way, revolves around the completely arbitrary figure of $200 million. To them, it is some kind of magic number, even though nobody else in baseball spends anything close to that, has ever spent anything close, will ever spend anything close to that.

    If you are keeping score at home, the $220 million they spent last season (according to ESPN’s accounting at the end of the season) is $78 million more than the Mets, who had the second-biggest payroll in the sport, and $80 million more than the Red Sox. It is $82 million more than the Phillies, their opponent in the World Series. But now Yankee fans are told their team went for Nick Johnson over Damon because Johnson is cheaper labor.

    But does anybody believe that Johnny Damon, who helped beat the Yankees in 2004 when he was with the Red Sox and played such a spectacular World Series for the Yankees five years later against the Phillies, has to go because of money? Or because Boras made Brian Cashman mad?

    Let me see if I have this straight: Boras’ No. 1 top-dog client, Alex Rodriguez, got to opt out of his Yankees contract during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, show up the Yankees as much as anybody ever has, but that wasn’t a career-ender in New York?

    Are you kidding? Not only did Rodriguez get paid to come back, he got over-paid, even with the Yankees bidding only against themselves. We were told at the time that it played out that way only because Rodriguez went back to the Yankees himself, hat in hand, Boras nowhere to be found. Right. Then A-Rod negotiated the $300 million contract himself.

    If all that didn’t make a Boras client an ex-Yankee, nothing ever will.

    Of course Cashman doesn’t want to be regarded as the guy who can only buy the World Series. Of course he wants to have the kind of rep as a personnel savant the way Theo Epstein and Billy Beane do. Of course he did make a whole series of terrific small moves to improve the ’09 Yankees.

    Except: Except none of those moves matters if Cashman didn’t get to spend nearly a half-billion dollars on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira last winter! And if the Yankees don’t win this season, you can only imagine what happens to this new budget next winter if somebody like Joe Mauer is in play. What kind of money will they throw at him?

    Mike Lupica is a columnist for the Daily News. His feature (which is quoted above) was not subject to the approval of WasWatching.com. But, if asked, this author would have given it two thumbs, way up, for being dead, solid, perfect.

    Comments on Lupica: Cashman’s Budget Excuse Is Smoke Screen For Truth

    1. Raf
      January 29th, 2010 | 8:54 am

      Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as Lupica makes them out to be. And you know just as well as I that Lupica’s a hack.

      Did Cashman handle the Rodriguez negotiations? Or did one of the Steinbrenners get involved? The way that went down is different from the way Cashman has done things in the past, and even the way he has done things after the 2007 season.

      No one noticed that we’re 3 weeks to pitchers and catchers and Damon hasn’t signed yet? Wrong, right or indifferent, they misplayed/misread the market. They have the right to ask for as much as they want, doesn’t mean that teams will pay them what they want.

    2. yagottagotomo1
      January 29th, 2010 | 9:09 am

      It’s funny, I thought this column was epic in its stupidity and myopic nature. Glad to see you gave it two thumbs up.

      The Yankees said they had a budget, they stuck to the budget, and Damon’s reticence earlier in the offseason to budge from his stance lead to him being squeezed out. The suggestion that Cashman did this so he can win on the cheap when it was Hal who set the budget is so preposterous that it left me speechless. And I love the extreme hypocrisy of guys like Lupica ripping the team for having a huge payroll, and when they decide to have a budget, calling it arbitrary and ripping them for that.

    3. Jake1
      January 29th, 2010 | 9:09 am

      lupica is 100% right. sad that they let a good player go over 5 million.
      not like they wont have to make a move for a player like Damon in July. Then we will see if this budget is real.

    4. MJ
      January 29th, 2010 | 9:10 am

      This article is lacking in the most basic logic required to make an argument. It assumes that Brian Cashman, not the Steinbrenner family, controls the purse-strings and it assumes that last year’s $220M budget is a consistent figure that can be used as a baseline for this year’s budget (and beyond).

      Whatever one’s opinion of Cashman might be, the budget is set by the owner and not by the general manager. And while I’ll be the first to admit that I have spent the last two months complaining that the Yanks should have shown more flexibility with their budget to accomodate Johnny Damon, my own complaints implicitly recognize that a budget exists.

      This is yellow dog journalism at its worst and, frankly, Steve, it reflects very poorly on you if a poorly-argued article speaks for you and this website.

    5. yagottagotomo1
      January 29th, 2010 | 9:16 am

      @ MJ:
      Exactly my problem with it. Well stated.

    6. Corey
      January 29th, 2010 | 9:18 am

      To them, it is some kind of magic number, even though nobody else in baseball spends anything close to that, has ever spent anything close, will ever spend anything close to that.
      ==========
      This is about the time I stopped reading this article. Why would you write something so silly as nobody will ever spend anything close to that…how do you know? In 40 years 200 million could be inflated to the point where it equals 20mm dollars in todays time.

    7. yagottagotomo1
      January 29th, 2010 | 9:19 am

      MJ wrote:

      he Yanks should have shown more flexibility with their budget to accomodate Johnny Damon,

      Also, I think this is the only fair argument regarding the Damon thing- that Hal should have been more flexible/Cash should have pushed more to accommodate Damon. I disagree, but I think it’s an intellectually honest argument and respect it. The idea that they are wrong for having a budget at all is ridiculous.

    8. MJ
      January 29th, 2010 | 9:27 am

      yagottagotomo1 wrote:

      Also, I think this is the only fair argument regarding the Damon thing- that Hal should have been more flexible/Cash should have pushed more to accommodate Damon.

      That about sums my entire issue with how it went down. The Yanks had a valuable player in Damon, his replacements are arguably not up to the task, Damon’s market was limited to the point that it really wouldn’t have taken much more than an additional $5-6M and it would’ve been on a one-year basis which would’ve had no longer-term ramifications against the team.

      I don’t buy that Cashman had a beef wth Boras and I don’t buy that Cashman is trying to trim payroll to prove to critics that he can do it for less. I think both sides should’ve done a better job of communicating but, at the end of the day, there definitely seems to have been a directive from above about how much to spend and how there wasn’t an open checkbook for 2010.

    9. January 29th, 2010 | 9:42 am

      Guys, yes, Hal “reportedly” sets the budget. But, it’s THE GM who is charged with the responsibility to go to the owner and request going over the budget, if it’s something that can help the team.

      And, check any business. Yes, you set a budget at the start of the year. But, if you run over that mark, near the end of the year, it’s not like you shut down your operation because there’s no more money. Plus, there’s always wiggle room in a budget. Lastly, let’s not forget this is the “payroll budget” and not the “team budget.” There’s more money, if needed, in the Yankees purse. Think they had a half-mill in “the budget” for earthquake victims this year? Noooo… But, when the quake hit, Lon Trost opened up his desk drawer and just found $500,000 not doing anything and good to go…

      And, MOST IMPORTANTLY, the Damon thing would have required the Yankees going “over budget” by LESS THAN ONE PERCENT – if you believe that Damon will only get a one year deal for five million.

      Signing Damon would have not required the Yankees BLOWING PAST their “budget” by 10, 20, or 50%. This is just going a little over budget – if that at all. You don’t think Cashman has the power to do THAT? Really?

      Didn’t Cashman go to ownership last year, when Teixera fell in the laps, to approve that extra/mega deal? Yes, he did.

    10. January 29th, 2010 | 9:53 am

      @ MJ:
      @ yagottagotomo1:

      Let me get this straight. Lupica writes an article. I say that I agree with it. You don’t agree with what Lupica says. Therefore, then, that gives you the right to say that my opinion on the feature is a poor reflection on me and an endorsement of stupidity and myopic thinking?

      Gee, thanks for not using my sharing of an opinion as a spring board to make a personal attack at me.

      I find this interesting considering this recent comment by yagottagotomo1:

      “Criticizing a viewpoint you disagree with is perfectly fine. The challenge for bloggers is to limit the criticism to the opinion and stay away from making statements/criticisms about the person.”

      http://waswatching.com/2010/01/10/green-advice-to-jefferson-applies-to-blogging/#comment-247982

      What was that you said in a comment, above, about “extreme hypocrisy”?

    11. January 29th, 2010 | 9:57 am

      I think its more productive to look at the “budget” like you look at your own personal finances.

      You get paid $2,000 a month (just to make the math easier).

      Now, you can spend all $2,000 this month – every dime on clothes, food, rent, car payment, going out, whatever… OR you can spend $1,700 or $1,800 this month, stash a couple hundred bucks away so that in a few months when say your No. 3 starter gets hurt, or you find you want to upgrade your TV to a corner outfielder with pop you can do so.

      Point is, why max out your budget before the season, you want to leave a little wiggle room.

      There’s a bevy of potential free agent players that might be available later this year, when the Yanks might be in the market to make an acquisition, so you don’t push yourself to the max now – just in case.

    12. YankCrank
      January 29th, 2010 | 9:58 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      “We had a strong desire to have Johnny back, but not at all costs. We put a value on Johnny, shared that opinion on what that value was and Scott Boras and Johnny had a different value and a different opinion.”

      -Brian Cashman, on Yankees Hot Stove last night

      I know the Yankees went over budget for Tex, and we all know Cash did that because Tex was a franchise changing and division changing acquisition. You go over budget for those players.

      Johnny Damon is not that type of player, not anymore at least. I think we can all agree that what Cash said above is not a lie. They clearly set a value on Damon, a figure we don’t know, and neither side could agree to terms. We don’t know if that figure was $2 million, or $5-6 million but what we know is they couldn’t agree.

      We can speculate all we want, take sides and this and that, but when it comes down to it both sides just didn’t see eye to eye.

    13. Raf
      January 29th, 2010 | 10:04 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Guys, yes, Hal “reportedly” sets the budget. But, it’s THE GM who is charged with the responsibility to go to the owner and request going over the budget, if it’s something that can help the team.
      ~~~~~
      Didn’t Cashman go to ownership last year, when Teixera fell in the laps, to approve that extra/mega deal? Yes, he did.

      Then that speaks to Cashman’s assessment on Damon, doesn’t it?

      Of course, the two situations are different WRT caliber of players

    14. yagottagotomo1
      January 29th, 2010 | 10:04 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Not sure what you are getting at here, as I never said that it reflects poorly on you. I said that Lupica’s opinion was myopic and stupid, and made a sarcastic remark about your endorsing it BECAUSE THE OPINION AND ARTICLE were stupid. At no point did I make a personal attack on you in this space. If you want to read something that isnt there, that’s your prerogative.

    15. January 29th, 2010 | 10:07 am

      @ sean mcnally:

      And, what, credit cards with 0% APR in the first 12 months don’t exist in that model? ;-) They exist in the real world, no?

      I still find it hard to believe that the Yankees would be willing to go let a talent like Johnny Damon walk over something as small as $3 to $5 million. If they are really that hard up for cash, then they could schedule a game at Yankee Stadium, before Opening Day, where their best prospects play a game against each other, and make $5 million on tickets, parking, and concessions without breaking a sweat.

      All things considered, there’s no excuse for the Yankees not doing something that can help the team because they’re concerned about the $5 million cost and were the money will come from…they’re not the Royals or Pirates.

    16. egghead71
      January 29th, 2010 | 10:10 am

      @ yagottagotomo1:
      I’m with you MO. Every other article Lupica writes he criticizes the Yankees for profligate spending. Now, Cashman’s the fool? unbelievable.

    17. January 29th, 2010 | 10:11 am

      yagottagotomo1 wrote:

      I never said that it reflects poorly on you.

      Correct. MJ wrote that. You wrote:

      “I thought this column was epic in its stupidity and myopic nature. Glad to see you gave it two thumbs up.”

      That’s like saying “Only an idiot would appove of this column.” If you don’t want to own up to that, that’s your “prerogative.”

    18. yagottagotomo1
      January 29th, 2010 | 10:15 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      That’s like saying “Only an idiot would appove of this column.”

      No, that’s like saying “Only someone with an equally myopic view on this topic would approve this column.” But you seem to want to read personal attacks into most every criticism that I make on this site, which is why my posting has become significantly less frequent.

    19. January 29th, 2010 | 10:15 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:

      Do we know for sure that Johnny would have resigned for $5-7 million (Winn’s new deal plus $3-5 million)?

      Some how I doubt that, part of me is actually happy a front office (anyone’s front office) stood up to Boras’ posturing, and another piece is happy the Yankees didn’t go the 2/$26mln route because that gives them an “extra” $13 million to spend next offseason where there are, in my opinion, likely to be better talents available to fill the left field/two-hole spot than an aging Johnny Damon.

      Hell, Damon himself will probably be available both next offseason and during the season via trade.

    20. MJ
      January 29th, 2010 | 10:16 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      1) You don’t have to convince me that spending a few extra million to get Damon was the right move. I’ve been saying that all along. I think it’s completely idiotic to have picked Nick Johnson over Johnny Damon and I’m on record as having said that from the start. That doesn’t make me a saint or a hero, I’m just writing that to be clear that I agree with you that letting Damon walk wasn’t the way I’d have let it all go down.

      Having said that, I have three quarrels with your first comment (#9):

      a) One percent, two percent, 10 percent or 100 percent is irrelevant. If the man with the money says “this is your number and that’s final” then that’s that. Again, I argued that exact same point with both Damon and Wang. For less than 5% of the total payroll, the Yanks could’ve kept valuable assets. But, be that as it may, you can’t assume that Cashman didn’t go to his employers to see if something could be done for Damon. We know that he tried acquiring Mike Cameron last year and was turned down. So to believe that Cashman sat on his hands this time around is something that we simply don’t know. Any smart employee knows when to test his employer’s patience. As much as I disagre with it, perhaps Cashman simply didn’t think Damon was worth spending political capital on when there’s an entire season’s worth of unknowns to contend with. What if — GOD FORBID — Jeter misses the whole season and Cashman has to get an emergency $10M approved to get Tulowitzki from Colorado (for example)?

      b) Charitable donations have nothing to do with it. I don’t see why you’d bring it up since whatever the Yanks give to Haitian relief has no impact whatsoever on their payroll for the 2010 roster. I’m not a tax attorney or an accountant but I’m pretty sure that charity is tax deductible and Johnny Damon isn’t.

      c) Mentioning Teixeira is following the same flawed assumption that Lupica made regarding the consistency of budgets from year to year. Perhaps last year the total flexibility was up to $230M and perhaps this year it is only $210M. For that reason, arguing what happened in the past makes no sense since there’s no way of knowing if Cashman is operating under the same directive. I would argue, in fact, that he is clearly not operating in the same climate as he was last year. The reason(s) for the change I’m not privy to, but I can make that assumption pretty safely.

      2) I didn’t make any personal attacks on you. Lupica’s column is poorly argued, makes faulty assumptions and ignores facts in order to make his points. You’re entitled to agree with it, it’s a free country. I don’t think you should, given that it’s a foolish argument from top to bottom, but go ahead and knock yourself out if you want to associate your name with such foolishness.

    21. egghead71
      January 29th, 2010 | 10:17 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Couple of assumptions here Steve…
      First that Damon would settle for one year 5 million. Debatable.

      More importantly… they don’t want Damon in the outfield. Damon’s only real chance to return to the Yanks was as DH. And, when they were filling the DH role they got a high OBP guy for less than 6 million, and a 1 year commitment. Those parameters would have been a joke to Damon/Boras back in December. Admittedly a gamble, but that’s what Cashman is paid to do.

    22. Raf
      January 29th, 2010 | 10:47 am

      Time will tell… Of course, I scratched my head when the Yanks went with Girardi over Stanley, and when they went with Tino over Mattingly. Scratched my head when the Sox went with Orlando Cabrera over Nomah…

    23. Corey
      January 29th, 2010 | 11:01 am

      Raf wrote:

      Nomah…

      Everytime I hear that name, I throw up in my mouth just a little.

    24. GDH
      January 29th, 2010 | 1:39 pm

      egghead71 wrote:

      More importantly… they don’t want Damon in the outfield. Damon’s only real chance to return to the Yanks was as DH. And, when they were filling the DH role they got a high OBP guy for less than 6 million, and a 1 year commitment. Those parameters would have been a joke to Damon/Boras back in December. Admittedly a gamble, but that’s what Cashman is paid to do.

      Thank you egghead. This is very accurate. Cashman had to look at Damon 2 ways: First, as a DH/LF (in that order). At that point in time, Boras and Damon were miles apart from the Yanks number. Once the DH role was filled (and the hurry was that Matsui was gone) Cashman had to look at Damon in a different way: LF. He’s already in theory replaced a bunch of Damon’s production with Granderson/Johnson offensively. He wanted defense in LF.

      It sucks that we could not blow the bankroll a little for Johnny. But given there is a limit, Cashman did what he had to do to offset the fact that the Yanks and Damon were miles apart at the wrong time.

    25. YankCrank
      January 29th, 2010 | 2:29 pm

      Heyman said Damon was offered a one year $6 million last week and turned it down.

      Assuming that’s correct, I guess we can put the idea to bed that the Yanks didn’t try to go “over budget” and sign Damon.

      Whether the Yanks should have offered more than $6 million for one year is up for debate, i’m sure we all feel differently. But here’s what was turned down by Johnny and Boras:

      2 years, $20 million
      2 years, $14 million
      1 year, $6 million

      Good luck finding better than any of those elsewhere, Johnny.

    26. Evan3457
      January 29th, 2010 | 4:23 pm

      YankCrank wrote:

      Heyman said Damon was offered a one year $6 million last week and turned it down.

      Assuming that’s correct, I guess we can put the idea to bed that the Yanks didn’t try to go “over budget” and sign Damon.

      Well, that’s not exactly right. The offer was $3 million now, and $3 million deferred to next year. That’s only $1 million more than they gave Winn for this year, with $3 million shunted off to next year’s budget. It’s possible the Yanks’ signing of Winn left a million in the budget, and Cashman was able to make this offer without blowing this current budget limit.

      There was no way Damon and Boras accept that offer at this point in time, and therefore, Cashman went with an offer to what he thought was the next best available guy.
      =========================================
      Lupica is an idiot, in general, and this column is just more of his usual claptrap.

      Steve can agree with it. I think he’s wrong for doing so, but that doesn’t mean I think he’s an idiot for doing so. The column fits in with Steve’s overall viewpoint concerning the team, so he’s going to agree with it. I think he’s wrong about that. So what? Is he going to change his opinions because I disagree?

      Pffffffffft.

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