The recently concluded winter meetings in Florida, the shopping frenzy in Major League Baseball, and generous free agent contracts tell me one thing: given the money, all teams want to act like the New York Yankees, betting that buying free agent talent will help them win the championships.
Probably, but given the championship drought in Bronx, I would say probably not. That is another post for another day. Still, it is amazing to see the money that is being thrown at middle of the road free agents. $55 million for Gil Meche, $100 million for Carlos Lee, and good lord, that contract for Alfonso Soriano. Boston Red Sox, who call Yankees the Evil Empire, are spending money like drunken sailors on a shore leave.
Many of the small market teams are benefitting from the luxury tax, that comes out of big market teams like the New York Yankees. Interestingly, the only team that did not go nuts this winter: the Yankees. All they have spent money on is Andy Petitte – $16 million, which is worth it, and not just because of pitching, but because of the quality human being he is, and the calming influence he will be on the increasingly tumultous Yankee clubhouse. Much as we liked Gary, let Tigers deal with him. Maybe it is time for some of the other headcases to go as well.
As Yankees try and bring their payroll under control, and promote young talent from within the organization, and rebuilt their farm system, there is a chance all the big spenders could be facing a fiscal reality check very soon. The Yanks’ fiscal discipline (or what passes for it in Bronx) could lower the “luxury tax” contributions, and perhaps there will be a lot less for rivals to throw around on mediocre free agent talent. Of course, many would be stuck with their contracts or what not.
At this point, it is conjecture on my part – and of course there is the George Factor!