Sunday, May 27, 2007


I'm sorry for focusing so much on the Yankees here at FPE. I could be forgiven if the Yankees were, you know, good. But since they just keep losing, its hard to consider them a contender, at least at this point in the season.

Still, for that very reason they fascinate me. I've long believed that when trying to win, its just as difficult to lose spectacularly as it is to win spectacularly. Thus, when you see a team not only jump the proverbial tracks, but take out a small town in the process, well, its a sight to see.

In the book Moneyball, A's GM Billy Beane famously said (I'm paraphrasing) you spend the first third of the season figuring out what you have, the second third fixing the team, and the last third sitting back and watching. Thats the plan for a winning team, like the A's.

The plan for a losing team is slightly different. That would be using the middle third of the season before the trade deadline to set your team up for the future. What the traditional plan doesn't involve is making trades to reinforce your team up for the present when they have no shot at the playoffs.

Having not had a losing season in the past million years, however, New York writers don't know that. They are already spreading rumors about the Yankees acquiring Todd Helton and Mark Teixeira. Because what the Yankees, behind the Red Sox by 11.5 games in the division and behind seven teams in the Wild Card race, need is a higher payroll to go along with their losing record.

At least you can understand wanting to get Teixeira, especially with the production the Yankees are getting out of their first base platoon this season. But as a Boras client, you know he's going to test free agency in a year and a half, so unless you absolutely need him this season and/or next, why not wait and just give him a ton of money?

Helton is another issue all together. With his hot start, everyone seems to be back on the Todd Helton bandwagon. And why not? By all accounts, he's a great guy and he's having a good season. But look just a little bit closer at the ever important home/road splits:

Home: .361/.495/.528
Away: .330/.442/.500

Helton is still taking big advantage of Coors Field, but the road split is still excellent, right? Well, yes. But...

If Helton can hit like his road splits in Yankee Stadium (or Angels Stadium, or where ever) then he can be a real asset, even with his contract. But, if he digresses, and the NL-to-AL conversion thinks he would, then he turns into a Bobby Abreu circa first half of 2006 clone, i.e. someone who gets on base but doesn't have much power. Not that there isn't value in that, because there is, but when you factor in age, potential for injury, and contract, Helton has to do more than just get on base.

Helton has had some nagging injuries over the past few years, though they haven't effected his games played too much (he's missed 14.3 games on average over the past three seasons, not counting this one). Those tend to magnify as a player ages.

Add all that to the fact that Helton, 33 years old, has five years left on his contract (counting this season) at $16.6 Million a year through 2010 and $19.1 Million in 2011. He also has a $23 Million club option in 2012 with a $4.6 Million buy out. Add all that up and if one were to acquire Helton now, they'd be on the hook for $81.8 Million for four and a half years of Todd Helton (or $100.2 Million for five years).

What I find especially interesting in all of this is the notion that what the Yankees need is another old super-expensive player to help right their listing ship. Paying Roger Clemens $28M clearly isn't going to be enough. No, they need Helton and his $80M too. And why not throw in Teixeira-plus-new-expensive-long-term-contract while you're at it? What exactly is the thinking here?

I now present "Yankee Strategy Meeting," a play in one act, by mattymatty:

Scene opens in a dark office. The shades are drawn. Two executive types in suits and Yankee caps are sitting opposite each other at a long table.

Faceless Yankees Executive #1 (sipping green tea): What we're doing here is clearly not working. I mean, look at the standings.

Faceless Yankees Executive #2 (looks at standings): Oh my gosh! You're right! What do you think the answer is?

FYE #1: How about we try to trade some of our older and more expensive players and get younger and cheaper?

2: No... no... I can't see that working. I mean, who will Yankee fans come to see?

1: Hmm... maybe you're right... OK. Uh... I know! How about getting older and more expensive?

FYE #2: Excellent idea! [rifles through papers on table] I've got it! We can get Todd Helton! He is 33 years old and is owed $81 Million. How is that?

FYE #1: Perfect!! [they high-five]


If the Yankees are really interested in ending the old, brittle, and expensive cycle they need to take a different tact, not continue to make the same mistake over and over again. Of course, it is more entertaining that way, so don't count this as complaining.

Some quick notes from the comedy hour that is the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES):

*The YES announcers are detailing why Jorge Posada isn't at DH when Wil Nieves is catching. The reasoning is that they don't want to lose the DH and end up having the pitcher hit. Wil Nieves is 2 for 28 on the year. Is a pitcher really going to be much worse?

*YES announcer Ken Singleton wonders if "Melky Cabrera's inconsistency is because of his inconsistent play." Yes he actually said that.

More on the Red Sox later...

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