Change-UpJanuary 27, 2011
Thursday Links
By Patrick Sullivan

There's not a heck of a lot going on in baseball these days outside of a Wandy Rodriguez extension here or a manufactured Yankees controversy there. So today I will share some links.

On some of the perceived tension between Yankee ownership and Brian Cashman, Ben Kabak offers a sober take over at River Ave Blues. Yanks ownership controls the purse strings, and with money to burn they overpaid for Rafael Soriano. Cashman hasn't exactly tried to hide the fact that he disagreed with the move, either. The intuitive reaction is to assume that dissension between general management and ownership can only mean bad things, but Cashman and Kabak do a nice job explaining why that doesn't necessarily have to be.

Cashman's word is critical when he negotiates with agents and other players. It sounds like he may have told other relievers early on in the offseason that the Yanks had a compensation threshold for setup guys that they would not exceed. Except that, as the Hot Stove season wound down and the Yanks still had money and Soriano was still out there, ownership decided they would do whatever they had to in order to secure his services. That's ok, I suppose. It's ownership's call. But you can empathize with Cashman as he sets out to distance himself from the decision.


Sticking in the AL East, Justin Bopp of Beyond the Box Score designed an awfully cool-looking infographic highlighting attendance trends over the last decade. There's a teaser in his title, which in part reads "Apparently Baseball is Popular."


The baseball blogosphere's favorite Badger prodigy, Jack Moore, has a thorough take on the Wandy extension. "Meh," is how Larry David might react. It's hard to argue that it's an overpay since Wandy is in fact a very good pitcher. It's just that with Houston's farm system looking pretty bare and considering what pitchers like Matt Garza and Zack Greinke have been able to fetch, and further considering that Houston isn't good, it seems that Ed Wade could have gotten more value for Wandy on the trade market than in a 'Stros uniform. I think it's especially true when you think about the teams that could be in the mix for a starter (ahem, Yankees and Red Sox, ahem) over the next six months or so.


Finally, for Baseball Prospectus subscribers, there's this provocative take by Tommy Bennett on how much relievers are really worth. Some notable teams may have paid some notable names a little too much money, it looks like.


To me, the crazy thing about the Soriano signing isn't giving up the draft pick, and it's not even the overpay (which isn't a big deal for the Yanks), but the back-to-back opt-out clauses. What happens if Mariano's age catches up to him, or more likely if he just decides to retire? Soriano will just opt out, leaving the Yanks without a closer, and then they'll have to pay up even MORE to re-sign him.

People say the contract gives them their post-Mariano closer, but that's now how the contract is set up at all. The contract is just terrible—a loss of draft pick, a ton of money, and absolutely no security for the Yanks.

I understand Cashman's point about needing to remain credible to the agents that he deals with on a constant basis. Here's what I don't get: if the Yankees ownership can and will go over his head to pay $$$ to players, why should agents even talk to Cashman?

If I'm representing a big FA, I wouldn't even return his calls. Just let the owners know how good your player is and how much he's worth. No need for Cashman to even be involved.