Friday, October 15, 2021

All across the Yankiverse, folks are offering suggestions on what to do this winter. But first, one hard question needs to be asked

Hal Steinbrenner regularly claims that a $200 million Yankee payroll is enough, and that the key to success is spending his money wisely. 

And frankly, the Yankee owner is right. 

The Death Barge annually spends three times the payroll of the Tampa Rays - who have dominated us since 2020, and which likely will again next year. When you look at how much Hal regularly spends - and what he gets for his money, it's a troubling trade-off.  

Here are the 2021 opening day payrolls for this year's post-season teams, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. 

Tampa: $67 million.
Milwaukee: $99 million.
Chicago White Sox: $129 million
Atlanta: $131 million.
San Francisco: $150 million.
St. Louis: 
$164 million.
Boston: $180 million.
Houston: $187 million.
Yankees: $197 million.
LA Dodgers: $248 million.
So... quickie question: By Hal's criteria, has the Yankee front office spent wisely? 

Now, I recognize that reaching the wild card is not nothing.  The Yankees have now played in five - (5!) - wild cards in the last seven years. The brain trust has learned how to spackle-over roster holes through mid-season cash infusions and by trading prospects. 

Thus, the Yankees have achieved the new normal: They fall apart in April/May - either through injuries or dismal performances. Then, at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, they acquire a new wave of underachievers, headcases and looming free agents. They suck up bad contracts and stars past their sell-by dates - and mount a drive for that final wild card birth.  

Then, next spring, we do it all over again.

So... here we are, everybody. 

Looking at the Yankee roster, I cannot recall a bigger abomination, an airplane with six propellers and one wing. Everywhere, the Yankee front office has painted itself into a corner.

They must deal Gary Sanchez at the low ebb of his trade value. 

They'll need to move Clint Frazier and/or Miguel Andujar - though they'll bring next to nothing.

They must decide what to do with Joey Gallo, who is on the verge of replacing Sanchez as the symbol of Yankee malaise. 

They must replace Aroldis Chapman, which means watching him blow saves until he accepts the move. 

They face the very real possibility that, without stick-um on his fingers, Gerrit Cole is far less the ace than they hoped for. 

Who's on first? Who plays SS? Who's in CF? Dear God, there are so many holes, where do you even start?

Well, here's a suggestion. I would ask one question of Hal: 

Sir... Is this a well run team? Are the Yankees spending their $200 million wisely? Under what set of metrics is the Yankee front office succeeding? 


Doug K. said...

All good points. They should get more bang for the bucks.

Here is another interesting set of numbers Hal might want to consider...

Yankee Attendance: 1,959,854

Just short of 2,000,000. Sort of the way they were just short of making the real playoffs.

How many times has the commentariat here said that they will not go to the stadium... not give them a dime. You guys didn't even do the meetup. That could have pushed it to 1,959,864 right there.

I have friends who made the same vow. They were good for a few games a year. That's 1,959,893.

The question is will he turn the arrow around? Or will next year's attendance be around 1.7M?

For frame of reference :

1967 1,259,514
1972 916,328
1998 2,955,193
2008 4,298,655 (peak)
2019 3,304,404

And again, 2021 1,959,854

That's 1,344,550 fewer attendees (2020 doesn't count because of Covid)

So to add to, and reframe, what El Duque asked: Under what set of metrics is the Yankee front office succeeding? Not this one either.

ranger_lp said...

Well put Doug...

Carl J. Weitz said...

Good point Doug, but had you mentioned this 20 years ago your argument would be more meaningful.
Team owners, even ones who are considered " small market " no longer need attendance, concession and parking revenue to make a tidy profit. The majority of each team's revenue is derived from shared MLB media rights payment which explodes every time a new contract is up for renewal. Then count the local TV rights revenue teams receive such as YES Network. Additionally, enourmous money is derived by marketing everything from apparel and sporting goods to " official (fill in the blank) of Major League Baseball".

Sure, stadium-related revenue is icing on that high caloric cake. But owners can offset that loss by lowering payroll.

Quite frankly, Hal doesn't really have to give five a flying fuck whether you, I or your neighbors and friends attend the games.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

Yes, excellent point Doug!

Carl J. Weitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug K. said...


I see what you're saying but I was looking at the numbers again and attendance is off 2.3M since the last time they were "good"(2008-9)

That's more than they drew this year. Pretty telling.

We can pick any number for what an in park customer is worth (and I don't really know) but I'm going with $60 (30-40 for the ticket and 20-30 for food.

60 x 2.3M = $138M. It may just be a % of their revenue but it ain't hay. By the way their payroll in 2008 was 236M. Now it's 197M.

so Hal "saved" 39M in payroll but ended up making 100M less.

Like I said, "That ain't hay." :)

Carl J. Weitz said...

True that ain't hay. And I agree with you that falling attendance is another aspect of failing to put a better product on the field.

My point simply is that compared to overall revenue that 100 million is not incentive enough to a multi-billionaire to give a rat's ass about his team's fans showing up to the ballpark (or them at all) or care enough about making sound management changes.

DickAllen said...

I’m with Carl on this one. Attendance figures are nice but, like the man said “…icing on the cake…”

Me personally, I like icing more than cake, but that is not the point and even how much you’re spending is not the real question.

ROI is the name of the game for mild-mannered MBAs: RETURN ON INVESTMENT.

Harold has invested NOTHING in this team and I think that needs to be considered as well. The Yankees were his birthright. Yeah, he spends $200 Warbucks each year, but it’s a figure that’s tax deductible - the cost of doing business. That payroll number is a wash - it costs nothing when you add it all up.

But, to Doug’s point, that icing does add up to a lot of bread. We don’t really know how much additional revenue is generated by all those “fannies in the seats.” 20MM? 40MM? Who knows? Does it matter?

To you and I, that extra cash doesn’t just mean more money for Harold, it represents success. Success on the field. And as the attendance numbers drop, so does the product on the field. Harold doesn’t care about that aspect of his business. Harold is Casper Milktoast. He runs a smooth ship. He’s the anti-George, a guy who grew up with a chaotic father and wants nothing more in his life than peace and quiet, and striving means disruption, maybe even firing someone or two at the upper levels. That would bring back images of daddy, that big, bad frightening man who made his childhood such a nightmare.

ROI is what makes the world go round, and maybe greater attendance would inflate that number, but seriously, if you’re making millions each year and the suckers keep lapping it up, WHY BOTHER CHANGING?!?!?!?

As long as there’s hope for a spot in the playoffs, there’s no incentive to do anything more. The business model is working. The only way change occurs is if the product itself (the Yankees) becomes undervalued and someone sees an opportunity for growth. That does not exist here. The Yankees are one of the most valuable sports organizations on the planet, but we keep hoping for more and like the man says: It’s the hope that kills you.

So we settle in for a long winters nap and watch as other franchises head toward the World Series. Franchises run by people who care about winning baseball, not winning business models.

JM said...

I expect a 2022 team that makes the wild card, and that's it.

With the same decision makers in place, why would it ever change?

Doug K. said...

"So we settle in for a long winters nap and watch as other franchises head toward the World Series. Franchises run by people who care about winning baseball, not winning business models."

There's your banner for the day right there.

DickA and Carl,

You are both right of course. Especially about how little Hal cares. As you both know I am of the school of "Hal subconsciously hates the Yankees for taking away his father's love" so he has even less incentive.

Still, the numbers are interesting.

Then again when you charge 10-20K for a single game suite I guess attendance matters even less. One rich guy is worth 500 peons. (Is that a word?)

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

I'm pretty sure there is corporate genius behind the nonrelevance of the attendance stats -- to Hal and his ilk.

2017 MLB attendance, in 2,430 games = 72.7 million

2019 attendance, 2,429 games = 68.5 million

2021 attendance, 2,429 games = 45.3 million

I picked up these numbers (for reg season only) at

From the look of it, the fall-off in attendance numbers can be attributed (maybe) to COVID, municipal/state rulings, etc.

In other words, the 4.2 million decline from '17 to '19 means not very much to these rich people, and the steep drop-off to 2021 is being written off as having a specific cause.

Not only does Hal not give a flying fart, but at his elevated level . . . the discussion isn't about an individual team's failures. It's about whether MLB comes back in 2023 -- or 2025 -- from this big decline.

If you looked at these numbers as a team owner, would you actually run out and throw more money at your GM?

Scottish Yankee fan said...

Hal thinks his fiscal responsibility means he is running a tight ship whereas he is really overseeing a shite tip

Pardon my French

HoraceClarke66 said...

Great discussion, guys. And to add to it (I hope):

—First, as to what attendance in the park means to the Yankees, let's remember this:

The famous original Ray's Yankee Stadium usually had a capacity of 67,000. At times that got as high as 70,000-plus seats, and with standing room you could pack in as many as 76,000 fans.

The interim, 1970s-era, Yoko Ono Plastic Band Stadium generally had a capacity of around 57,000.

The current, Stanley Kubrick Black Monolith Restaurant Stadium first had a capacity of 50,000—which, by 2019, the Yanks had whittled down to 47,309. Since the onset of Covid, it is now 46,537.

In other words, the Yankees themselves made the calculation that they could more than replace the revenue from over 10,000 fans a game by adding dozens of luxury boxes...

HoraceClarke66 said...

Second, a small correction on Doug's telling figures.

The 1972 Yankees actually drew 966,328 fans—the only season since the Second World War that the Yanks have drawn under 1 million fans. And they almost undoubtedly would have gone over the million mark that season—they were contenders that year, for the first time in a long time—save for the fact that 4 home games got canceled due to an early-season lockout.

(The lockout led to the Red Sox becoming the first and only team to ever lose a pennant or division title by half-a-game. Which is pretty funny.)

I bring this up only to point out that the Yankees were still drawing that well despite the fact that the Bronx was considered a dangerous hellhole at the time, the team had been terrible, and baseball's popularity was in free fall...

The Archangel said...

I do not disagree with what people have been saying here about attendance, BUT, don't forget that attendance this year was boosted by extremely discounted ticket offers for many games.
Also, the falling attendance WILL be noticed when the season tickets can't be sold, esp., the premium seat packages. That will hurt Hal
PLUS, with the general nationwide decline in attendance comes the decline in TV revenue and merchandise sales.
Winter is coming, unless they wise up

HoraceClarke66 said...

...This year's attendance was undoubtedly held down in part by economic troubles, the pandemic, and the recent crime surge (though crime and dysfunction, even in the Bronx, still hasn't approached what it was in the 1970s-90s).

The fact that the Yankees' attendance is plunging toward the figures of those years, though, should tell HAL that something is rotten in the land of the cheese Danish.

Also, the drop in attendance almost certainly reflects a drop in television viewership, too, though I haven't seen any figures.

This has got to be causing some concern in high places, I would think. Now, all we need is the other shoe to drop—a revived Mets team, under a former Wall Street robber baron who won't stand for endless failure.

A Mets team that took over the town could REALLY force a reckoning in the home office. So all I can say is...LET'S GO METS!

DickAllen said...

Fuck that Horace. Shame on you!! I would rather shit my pants in public before I EVER root, even tangentially, for that abysmal, laughing stock of a team. It would be like trying to resurrect Jesse Gonder or Glen Cisco. Let the dead stay dead.

Doug K. said...

As a side note: I was listening to the SF Giants game on the radio yesterday and didn't hear the word "I" once. In fact, the game and only the game was the only thing talked about and included descriptions of the pitches, where the fielders were, what the count, score, was etc.

Basically, the broadcasters were conveying the game. I was able to picture it.

I'd forgotten that such a thing was possible.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Horace, actually, home viewership of MLB is up over the past several years. While it maybe true that TV viewership is down (it is by 12%), it's more than increased overall drastically through streaming media. It's related to cable decline because of cord-cutting alternatives (through legal means or not). Aside from Covid, it's the same reason why movie theater ticket sales have precipitously declined. People can now sit at home and watch sports events and movies on a Dolby surround sound speaker system on their 65"-100" plus ultra-high 4, 6 or 8K screens in comfort without driving anywhere or getting gouged for $ 15.00 piss warm beers and $ 12.00 rat feces-infested 6 inch rubber hot dogs.
It's why media rights have skyrocketed over the past decade and likely will continue to do so.

Carl J. Weitz said...

By the way Dick, I replied to you right after the Yankees were eliminated in the WC game but it was a day later so you probably didn't see it.
I want to fulfill my lost wager to you and the Yankees total games won champion by buying a case of beer (or substitute alcohol equivalent in approximate dollars). As I said, I will also buy one for el Duque as a "Thank You" for the effort he puts in daily running an excellent blog while I am in a generous mood.

While I do have el Duque's email address, I do not have a method of communicating with you or whoever it is that won the other case of beer. And I doubt that it would be advisable to give pertinent contact information in an open blog. So any suggestions you have to facilitate the booze distribution, I'm all ears.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Oh, and one more thing, Dick. It's probably the most efficient way for me to buy the beer/booze through an on-line gift certificate with a national retail chain such as Total Wine. I can buy the case online and have you guys pick it up or it can be delivered to your choice of location as they have a delivery service that they utilize. Or, if you guys prefer, it will be purchased at your local, friendly liquor store where I can pay over the phone and then you can grab it.

TheWinWarblist said...

I am here.

C... said...

Maybe Hal can sign a deal with Marvel. The players can dress up like comic book characters for the games and media. That might get Hal enough money to feel comfortable breaking the tax. Use the money to buy out a couple bad contracts and move forward.

el duque said...

If you guys want to communicate, shoot me an email, and I can do some matchmaking.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Thanks, Duque!

Platoni said...

That works. Thanks

DickAllen said...

Carl, I gladly surrender to the winner.

Send Platoni ALL the bounty!

13bit said...

The world has gone mad today
and good's bad today
and black's white today
and day's night today.
guys today that women prize today
are just silly gigolos

Hazel Motes said...

I count seven questions.

ranger_lp said...

Some interesting info on TMKS about Aaron Boone...

Joe of AZ said...

Dang I've never heard Michael this shook

HoraceClarke66 said...

Phil Nevin was not a good third-base coach, and Aaron Boone is not a good manager.

Kay makes a good point that the signals the Yankees are sending are contradictory. But he's missing the main idea: everything the Yankees do they do to make sure, first and foremost, that Brian Cashman keeps his job.

And by the by, for all of Kay's dismay that Boone may be turning his back on Nevin...I eagerly await hearing Kay blast Cashman BY NAME if and when Boone is fired. I really doubt if we will ever hear that.

TheWinWarblist said...

Michael Kay thinks he has a "high high baseball IQ?"

Fuck Michael Kay.

ranger_lp said...

The other interesting thing that was said is that Boone does make some decisions and they really want the manager to be in goose step with the analytics. The analytics group never gets blamed for convenient that is...

Carl J. Weitz said...

Dick are you sure? I can send you non- alcoholic beer instead. LOL, just kidding!
Not to turn IIHIIF into Draft Kings but hopefully several here will engage in a bit of friendly wagering based on final player or team stats. It will liven up another expected dull Yankee season.

DickAllen said...

We certainly will do that again next year. It did add a bit of additional drama to an otherwise maddening season.

As for me, I happily surrender my winnings to Platoni.

Drink responsibly friends. But drink.