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If It's Not Breaking News,
2003-02-03 20:49
by Mike Carminati

If It's Not Breaking News, Don't Fix It, II

The Phils announced that Burrell agreed to a 6-year, $50 M contract.

This is basically a mid-'90s Cleveland Indian-type signing, that teams seemed reluctant to do this offseason.

Meanwhile, ESPN vilified the Yankees for having a $164 M projected payroll for 2003. The Mets are a distant second at $119 M.

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, any team with a 2003 payroll number exceeding the "threshold" of $117 million would pay 17.5 percent on the excess. As they stand now, the Mets would have to pay about $350,000 and the Yankees $8 million to $9 million.

So why spend the cash? Let's listen in:

"Winning and appealing to fans is where the money is," Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost told the Daily News. "We also are growing the next generation of fan with our approach."

"What we see with the Yankees is that there has been no change in priorities," a baseball official told the Daily News. "Certainly they talked about cutting payroll and ... there's no disputing they made an effort to. It was probably always their plan."

"But they still believe the best way to make money is to put fans in the seats with a winner on the field," the baseball official said. "There are things in place that would deter most teams from spending, but these guys won't let it compromise their first priority."

Hmmm. Fannies in seats? It sounds like a good idea to me. So why don't other teams try it?

"Really, how can you compete when somebody is spending 80 or 90 million more?" Hall of Famer George Brett told the Kansas City Star. "The only thing you can do is catch lightning in a bottle like Oakland or Minnesota. (The Royals) haven't caught lightning in a bottle."

Oh, the poor Royals. This is the team that signed Yankee castoff Chuck Knoblauch for 2 mil to patrol left field for them last season, really. They paid about $8 M for two deplorable years from Neifi Perez. They paid Robert Hernandez $12 M over two years to close out games when they only won 127 games in that span. This offseason, they lost the top two pitchers in their rotation and replaced them with Albie Lopez. The spend money, just not wisely.

But we're supposed to feel bad for the Royals. They can't compete. They're in the weakest division in baseball and still can't compete. Maybe in th past they didn;t have the baseball accumen to compete, and maybe now the point is not to compete but rather to cut salary so dramatically that your team gets to the front of the Yankee welfare line.

The Yankees and the Phillies have both been spending (and maybe over-spending) for talent this offseason. It's odd that those two teams would ever have the same team philosophy, but they do. I live between the two of them and am going to throw what few dollars I invest in the game their way this year. They deserve it.

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