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You Can’t Blame the Yanks for Irresponsible Contracts

By Mike Silva ~ December 7th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva.

A usual meme you hear from fans, writers, and even baseball executives is how the Yankees are the ruination of baseball. Yes, it’s frustrating to see them outspend the next highest payroll team by fifty million dollars or more, but that is a recent development thanks to the YES Network and the explosion of the Yankee brand. When they won the World Series back in 1996 they had a $61 million dollar payroll, just six million more than Baltimore. Can you blame the team for leveraging their brand and playing by the rules of a cap-less sport? Ironically, the real blame shouldn’t be on the Yankees, but teams like San Francisco, Colorado, Washington, and Houston for giving very good players superstar contracts. There is also former Texas owner Tom Hicks who elevated the superstar salary with the deal he gave to Alex Rodriguez in 2000.

The Yankees have spent lavishly on Jason Giambi, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira, but those players are/were difference makers when they signed. They also came after the bar for their services was set by other teams. If you take a look at the top 31 contracts in baseball over at Cots these four stand out to me:

Mike Hampton – 8 years/$121 million (Colorado)

Barry Zito – 7 years/$126 million (San Francisco)

Jayson Werth – 7 years/$126 million (Washington)

Carlos Lee – 6 years/$100 million dollars (Houston)

Those may be some of the worst contracts in the history of baseball. Insane long term contracts for pitchers did start with the Dodgers and Kevin Brown (7/$90 million in ’98), but Brown was one of the top five pitchers in baseball. Hampton, although very good, was not in that class even after a great year with the Mets in 2000. Notice you don’t see Greg Maddux or Roger Clemens in either of those lists.

Its contracts like the aforementioned that drive up payrolls to obscene levels. Now that Jayson Werth is overpaid you can bet Carl Crawford will want as much, if not more, than a similar type of player. Why should Cliff Lee take a dollar less than Barry Zito? If the Nationals are going to give Lee seven years do you blame the Yankees who probably would prefer to keep it at five? Again, it’s another team, not the Yankees, raising the salary bar. How can you expect Mark Teixeira, one of the top first basemen in the sport, to get less than Carlos Lee? The Yankees were forced to pay the crazy money for Sabathia and Teixeira because of precedents set before them. As bad as the A-Rod extension was, he still will go down as one of the all time greatest hitters in the sport. Jayson Werth? A very nice complementary right handed bat. He probably isn’t worth more than Jason Bay, but is getting paid more than Carlos Beltran, who was arguably the best centerfielder in the sport.

So next time you want to gnash your teeth about Yankees spending just remember there were quite a few others that raised the bar for superstar contracts. That’s because they overpaid for very good, not great, talent in order to make a statement. Mike Rizzo are you listening?

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to You Can’t Blame the Yanks for Irresponsible Contracts

  1. Dave G

    I know other teams have bad contracts but what about Arods when we were the only team that would pay him that much. Jeters contract is way over market too.

  2. Gaby

    Yeah sure, this thing being from new york, i couldn’t expect less

    i’m gonna look for a column justifying the mets mess and the islanders loses.

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