Joe Torre, who was famously dubbed “Clueless Joe” by the New York Daily News, was enshrined into the baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. Turns out Torre DID know what he was getting himself into, and may have managed the last great dynasty we will see in baseball.
Many forget just how good of a player Torre was before his managerial career ever began. He was a 9-time all-star, who won the batting title and NL MVP award in 1971, while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite having a great 18-year career, it was as a manager that he really left his mark on the game.
Torre first got his chance to manage in 1977, as he served as a player/coach for the New York Mets in the final year of his career. Torre went on to coach the Mets for the better part of 5 seasons, where he received poor results, due mostly to the lack-luster roster he was given to work with. From there, he went on to coach the Atlanta Braves for three years and the St. Louis Cardinals for six years. There his teams improved, but was still unable to turn any of them into a real contender.
Cue 1996. The Yankees were coming off back-to-back strong seasons, and had a young core in place to build around. George Steinbrenner made a highly questionable move when he hired Torre in to take over at the helm, considering he had winning seasons in only 5 of his 15 years as a manager. Nonetheless, it quickly became apparent that he was indeed the right man for the job. In his 12 seasons with the Yankees, his teams won 10 division titles, 6 pennants and 4 World Series championships. All the while putting up with the daily scrutiny from the NY media and most importantly, Steinbrenner himself. Torres’ tenure with the Yankees will long be remembered as one of the greatest stretches in baseball history.
After moving on to manage the L.A. Dodgers to put an end to his stellar career, Torre finished with 2,326 games won as a manager, good for 5th all-time. Congratulations and welcome to Cooperstown, Joe Torre.
Watch his Hall of Fame speech in its entirety below:
The Associated Press released their study this morning of the MLB payrolls for the 2014 season, and after 15 years on top, the Yankees have been dethroned. The Dodgers are the new king in baseball with a whopping $235 million dollar team payroll, significantly ahead of the Yankees measly $204 million.
Here’s a brief overview of the league standings:
1) Dodgers $235 Million
2) Yankees $204 Million
3) Phillies $180 Million
4) Red Sox $163 Million
5) Tigers $162 Million
22) Mets $89 Million (This is embarrassing)
30) Astros $45 Million (Hey, its higher than the $27 Million they were at last year)
In case you were wondering, the average MLB player salary is now roughly $4 million. For comparison sake, the average salary for a person living in the United States in 2014 is $42,498. It’s good to be a professional athlete.
I know this isn’t really any significant news, as we knew the Dodgers were to surpass the Yankees this year. But isn’t it just more fun when the Yankees are spending head and shoulders ahead of the competition? It just seems more fitting when a team playing in the financial capital of the world is looking down upon the rest of the league. The Dodgers do play in an equally as powerful city in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers just don’t draw the same Hatred that the Yankees do. Come on Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, open up that check book, you’ve got work to do.
In case you’ve been in a coma, Alex Rodriguez has once again taken over the media landscape. You can find him on just about every network and see his face on the front and back page on any given day. And once again, it is for all the wrong reasons. I know the saying goes “Any publicity is good publicity”, but I beg the differ in this situation. For a team that is coming off a disappointing 2013 season, missing the playoffs for only the second time in the last 20 years, the Yankees should be looking for a clean slate in 2014.
AROD brought his circus on the road with him everywhere he went last year. He has now surpassed Barry Bonds and McGuire as the poster boy for Steroids in baseball, if not all of sports. His never-ending tabloid battle reached an all-time high in recently, after an arbitrator ruled him out for the entire 2014 season. Did anyone really expect him to walk away quietly from this? He instantly filed an injunction in federal court against Major League Baseball and is now suing his very own players union, claiming they “engaged in numerous acts that were arbitrary, capricious and taken in bad faith”. It official, AROD is now fighting this battle alone.
The biggest blow the Yankees look to overcome isn’t Alex Rodriguez, but rather how to overtake the defending World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox. If you remember just two years ago, the 2012 Red Sox season was more than a forgettable one. They finished in last place and had a season full of turmoil with Bobby Valentine leading the helm. There were grumblings of fights between players and the manager, the now infamous “chicken and beer” incident in their clubhouse and faced an onslaught of scrutiny from the media every step of the way. What did the Red Sox do? They wasted no time firing Bobby Valentine, the face of their new-found negative image and brought in guys like Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Johnny Gomes. This revamped their clubhouse culture and changed how the team was viewed both on and off the field, giving them the fresh start they so desperately needed.
Now I would say the Yankees are trying to follow in their footsteps. It has been a busy off-season bringing in Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, all of which are hard-nosed players who will bring a different “feel” to this roster. But if the Yankees truly want a fresh start, they need to move on from the face of their own negativity, AROD. No matter what happens in the courtroom these next few months, they will be answering questions regarding him the entire season. It doesn’t matter if he is in uniform or not, he will still be in the news on a daily basis, making headlines for anything and everything, is that headache really worth it? As long as he is under a contract, he have an impact on this franchise.
I realize it’s easy for me to sit here and say just cut AROD and get it over with already, considering it isn’t my money being spent. Fair enough, I can’t argue with that. But assuming this 2014 suspension holds up, he will still be owed $61 million, before incentives, for the 2015-17 seasons. In my opinion, I feel that $61 million is best spent on ensuring he will be nowhere near this franchise. Let him go out and be someone else’s distraction, his numbers already show his production is on a steady decline and he will be 39-years-old by the time he is eligible to return. Sure they might suffer in 2014 with a hole at third base, but he wasn’t going to be here anyway. These are the New York Yankees, there’s no way you can tell me they won’t be able to find an able replacement by the start of the 2015 season.
The Yankees are the greatest franchise in all of sports, there’s no arguing that, but they are known for their off the field dramas as much as they are their World Series titles. From George Steinbrenner vs Billy Martin…Martin vs Reggie Jackson…Steinbrenner vs Dave Winfield…Steinbrenner vs MLB…Record breaking contracts … and now Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees always find a way to keep themselves in the spotlight. But now this story has grown old and if you want to give this team the best chance to win and earn the respect of america along the way, cut the most hated man in baseball.
This soap opera has run its course and I, along with millions of others, am ready for this program to be cancelled.
The Yankees front office seems to be taking a page from Alex Rodriguez these days, as they continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Private conversations and personnel decisions have been becoming more and more public recently, which is leaving many to question if ownership and Brian Cashman are on the same page.
Before yesterday’s game, Joe Girardi told reporters Derek Jeter would be playing in a simulated game before deciding if he was ready to rejoin the team. But, he would not reveal the location. This has many asking the obvious question, Why not? What does protecting the location of a simulated game really accomplish? This comes off as odd to me and has me curious who made the decision to not inform the media where the game would be held. It’s not like an army of reporters would have quickly fled to Staten Island, where the game was actually held, to watch Jeter. Even if they did, what was the worst that was going to happen, he gets asked how he felt and if he is ready to rejoin the team? Pretty sure Jeter would have been able to handle these minuscule questions.
It became even clearer later in the day that there are conflicting views of what direction this team should be going. Brian Cashman let his true feelings be heard to Joel Sherman of the New York post over the Alfonso Soriano trade:
“I would say we are in a desperate time,” Cashman told the Post. “Ownership wants to go for it. I didn’t want to give up a young arm. But I understand the desperate need we have for offense. And Soriano will help us. The bottom line is this guy makes us better. … This is what Hal wants, and this is why we are doing it.”
Ownership overruling Cashman is nothing new, just think back to when the Alex Rodriguez extension was forced upon him. The move for Soriano cost them pitching prospect Corey Black. It’s not like Black was being regarded as a big piece of the future for this franchise. In my opinion, this was Cashman venting a little bit as his frustration is beginning o catch up with him.
It was well documented that ownership wanted to have the Yankees below the Luxury tax and restock from within, but this move says otherwise. If George was still around, no one would even think twice about this move. He would willingly take a chance on such a player without blinking. If it didn’t work out? So what, move on and go sign someone else. Those days were suppose to be behind us. Cashman was supposed to be the one making decisions now, but you have to be doubting that after this recent power struggle.
This season has been one giant headache for Cashman, and if ownership continues to run this team in such a manner, it might be best if these two part ways at the end of the season.
Last night as I was flipping back and forth between the Knicks game (my god was that awful) and the Yankee game I noticed that Roger Clemens’ son, Paul, was on the mound for the Astros. The first thing that popped into my mind was “Oh my goodness gracious, of all the dramatic things..” as I recalled Suzyn Waldman’s now infamous call of Roger Clemens announcing his return to the Yankees several years ago from George Steinbrenner’s box.
I was well aware that his son was on the Astros, but I was not even thinking about the possibility of him pitching at Yankee stadium until I saw him on the mound. What angered me the most about this was I was not able to get to a radio in time to listen to what Suzyn Waldman said as Paul took the mound. Waldman will most likely be most remembered for this dramatic, over the top call of Clemens return. I quote her any chance I get to a Yankee fan, it’s one of those moments that will always make me laugh every time I think about it. Listen to her call here: “Roger Clemens is in George’s box…“
In what was a rarity for the Yankees off-seasons, they were never even in discussion with top-tier free agents such as Josh Hamilton and Zack Grienke. We have become so accustomed to Brian Cashman and the Yankees swooping in and outbidding any club with seemingly no regard to how high their payroll becomes. With the new salary cap system in baseball due to start in the 2014 season, Cashman has finally had to work under restrictions to keep this club under the $189 million ceiling set for the 2014 luxury tax.
Just how bad did it get for the Yankees this off-season? The Pittsburgh Pirates, yes the PIRATES, outbid the Yankees for catcher Russell Martin, a key member of the 2012 Yankees. That is something that never would have happened in years past.
The luxury tax is nothing new, it has been in place for 10 years now. Only four teams have ever had to pay the tax, and one of them, the Yankees, have paid it every single season its been in existence. What makes next year different? A new clause comes into place that penalizes offenders who have gone over the luxury tax limit consecutive years in a row with a 50% tax. That means for every dollar spent over the $189 million dollar figure, a team would have to pay 50% of that in taxes to be dispersed among every team who falls below the tax limit.
Here’s the loophole that was left in this luxury tax system. The only thing the Yankees have to do to avoid paying the 50% tax is get under the limit for ONE SEASON. That’s it. By doing this, it will reset their tax penalty and put them in the same boat with franchises who have never once gone above the set threshold. This will put them back to the beginning, which is a 17% tax for teams who spend above the limit, that is a 33% savings. Hence the push by management for Cashman to hold off on signing big name free agents or give any long-term extensions (Robinson Cano) until they are able to clear this mark for one year.
If you think this is a sign of the Yankees having financial problems, you obviously are not aware of the reported $471 in revenue they made last season, or Forbes valuing the franchise at $2.3 billion, or how they sold 49% stake of the YES network for $3.4 Billion. That’s right, $3.4 BILLION. Simply put, the Yankees are just looking to save a few bucks. After all, whether we like it or not, baseball is a business.
Don’t be mistaken, the Yankees will not end up coming back to the rest of the pack and on a level playing field with the rest of baseball, that’s not going to happen. This is still the Yankees, no team in baseball makes the money the Yankees do. To most fans, I’m sure they will complain about the team going cheap, saying this never would have been the plan under George, and maybe there right. But this is the direction the front office has decided to go in, making business moves rather than throwing money at the biggest names in the sport.
With a current roster loaded with aging, overpaid, stars, the Yankees needed to make these decisions for more than just business reasons. Contracts such as Alex Rodriguez’s can ruin a teams salary availability for years as they enter the twilight of their career no longer performing at the level which earned them the contract in the first place. This is something the Yankees must get away from and begin to find better ways to spend their money. Do you really want the Yankees to continue down the path of giving players already in the back-end of their prime long-term contracts? It’s time they made a change. They will undoubtedly continue to spend money where it needs to be spent, it’s just a matter of spending it in a smarter manner as their aging superstars begin to come off the books in the next few seasons.
In some regards, like it or not, it is admirable that teams like the Yankees and Dodgers are willing to spend whatever it takes to acquire the best talent available in hopes of giving their fans a winning ball club. At the very least, it shows ownership is willing to go the extra mile to win, which is all you can ask for in an owner. I would much rather have that than say Jeffery Loria of the Marlins. Who has become notorious for gutting his team down to the core with no regard to putting a quality product on the field for his fan base, all the while collecting luxury tax money from the Yankees and Dodgers, pocketing the money rather than improving his product on the field.
Look for the Yankee payroll to stay atop the highest in baseball, just don’t expect it to be head and shoulders above the competition anymore. Those days are over.
For as long as I can remember, I have been infatuated with the game of baseball. Growing up on Long Island, I was taught first and foremost to root for the New York Mets. I have been a die-hard fan my whole life, which has had its ups and downs over the years, to say the least. But this is the fan path I have chosen for myself and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
But being raised in the New York area you learn at an early age, whether you like it or not, The Yankees dominate the city. All season long I find myself as intrigued and interested in everything and anything related to the historic franchise. From their 27 Championships to George Steinbrenner to the walking tabloid that is Alex Rodriguez, how could I leave out the Yankees?
This is why I have decided to focus my blog on New York City baseball as a whole, rather than just one team. Baseball is life to me once the season begins. I plan on expressing my thoughts, opinions and maybe some venting throughout the course of the season.