FanDuel - WFBC

October 21, 2009

Can the Yankees Be Stopped?: The New York Yankees have begun to look unbeatable, Joe Posnanski writes for Sports Illustrated. Particularly in the final three innings where their slugging percentage has been .511 this year. "Pitcher after pitcher will talk about how it's just such a mental grind to face the Yankees because there are no breaks in the lineup, no easy outs, no hitters you can relax against. They all take pitches. They all have power. The Yankees are just constant pressure -- the ocean beating against the shore -- and like boxers working the body they feel confident that they will get you in the later rounds."

posted by rcade to baseball at 10:31 AM - 59 comments

http://baseball.about.com/od/newsrumors/a/09teamsalaries.htm

No surprise - they buy the best players every year. What is surprising is their recent failure with the talent they've had!

posted by cixelsyd at 11:08 AM on October 21

The Yankees haven't won the World Series in nine years, and haven't reached one since 2003. They did not reach the World Series from 1982 through 1995. It takes more than the advantage of a massive payroll.

posted by rcade at 11:12 AM on October 21

That could have easily been written about the Phillies.

posted by cl at 11:41 AM on October 21


Whenever the Red Sox succeed (which happens as often as the arrival of Haley's Comet), this "buying a pennant" shit never comes up for some reason.

posted by JButton at 11:52 AM on October 21

You can't stop the Yankees but you sure can try to contain them.

posted by BornIcon at 12:00 PM on October 21

Simple. Find a way to bankrupt Georgie Steinbrenner!

posted by Plaintruth at 12:27 PM on October 21

Whenever the Red Sox succeed (which happens as often as the arrival of Haley's Comet), this "buying a pennant" shit never comes up for some reason.

Perhaps because Red Sox and most other teams don't buy 5-7 of the highest priced free agents each year. They actually have organizations focused on building internally.

posted by cixelsyd at 01:26 PM on October 21

You can't stop the Yankees but you sure can try to contain them.

You make them sound like a bad social disease ...

posted by cixelsyd at 01:28 PM on October 21

JButton: Whenever the Red Sox succeed (which happens as often as the arrival of Haley's Comet), this "buying a pennant" shit never comes up for some reason.
The exact opposite: the Sox have had great success under the new ownership group, making the playoffs 6 of the last 7 years, getting just about 95 wins on the nose every single year (93, 95, 98, 95, 86, 96, 95, and 95).

And yes, with their recent success it's becoming more popular for non NY/BOS fans, such as the local Mariner fans here in Seattle, to hate on the Sox as "just another big market team, blah blah"- even though the M's payroll last year was $117M, only about $16M less than the Sox who won nearly as many games as the M's lost. The Sox earn their income, and spend it more wisely than most any other franchise in terms of player development, tools and scouting, and smart evaluation. They play top-notch Moneyball with a real budget and an ownership group committed to building a long-term winner.

What that payroll chart does show is that you can't really buy success quite so easily- the $65M Twins won one more game than the $115M Tigers- but it does help, since the bulk of the teams (5 of 8) are in the top 9 highest spending teams, while the Twins, Rockies, and Cardinals all made the playoffs with mid-range payrolls (and along with the Sox, none are in the 2nd round).

But while spending $115M instead of $80M might not guarantee success, it's actually pretty astonishing every time I look and see the Yankees have eclipsed $200M the last two years. It really isn't surprising that their talent pool has been able to do what they've done; it should be expected that they win 100+ and have the top-to-bottom lineup effectiveness. They don't really even develop so much as buy: the top free agents flock to the deep pockets of the Yankees, so of course when it all gels they become a very, very, very good team.

They can be stopped, though: the playoffs is a crapshoot, and one team geting hot can beat the Yankees in 4 straight.

posted by hincandenza at 01:31 PM on October 21

Does anyone think that the Yankees would be even stronger if they shifted 25% of their payroll expenditures into their minor league system? Why always buy your talent at its peak cost?

posted by rcade at 01:37 PM on October 21

It takes more than the advantage of a massive payroll.

I would say the Yankees just did a better job last year in free agency then they have previously this decade. Adding Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixeira in a year could be one of the best groups of free agents ever (and most expensive).

Previous years they added Jaret Wright, Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi.

posted by WolfpackMD at 01:42 PM on October 21

Does anyone think that the Yankees would be even stronger if they shifted 25% of their payroll expenditures into their minor league system?

You know, I have thought of that for a while, about both the Yankees and the Mariners (I am one of those M's fans but I don't quite hate on the Red Sox yet. I did my college matriculation in Boston). I never heard anyone express that thought before so I thought I must be way off in my thinking that it would work. Maybe it's easier to pay for the finished product than to pay for a really great foundation and build up from there.

posted by THX-1138 at 01:44 PM on October 21

Does anyone think that the Yankees would be even stronger if they shifted 25% of their payroll expenditures into their minor league system?

I doubt they could draft 7-10 all-stars at the peak of their careers, given the fact that no-one else can.

Peak cost for peak performance.

posted by dfleming at 01:51 PM on October 21

Does anyone think that the Yankees would be even stronger if they shifted 25% of their payroll expenditures into their minor league system?

Absolutely - With only a 25% shift they'd still have enough funds for 2 of the top 5 free agents each year and develop some team chemistry and continuity.

Would obviously need to change the folks running the show as it requires a different skill set than simply writing cheques.

posted by cixelsyd at 02:03 PM on October 21

Perhaps because Red Sox and most other teams don't buy 5-7 of the highest priced free agents each year. They actually have organizations focused on building internally.

Yeah, because the BoSox weren't interested at all in picking up Tex. I don't know for sure about CC and AJ, but I have to imagine they were in the mix for those two as well. Don't pretend Boston is some bastion of home-grown talent.

Besides, what's completely lost in this assertion is that the Yankees are fielding a lot of players they've brought up from their farm system:

Jeter
Rivera
Posada
Cano
Melky
Gardner
Joba
Hughes


That's just off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure there are some more folks in the bullpen I'm missing. Even Pettitte's a "native" Yankee- he came up with them, left, and came back.

posted by MKUltra at 02:06 PM on October 21

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the most recent Yankee dynasty made up primarily of mostly homegrown talent? As a Red Sox fan, I have repeatedly said that the Yanks were the best team money could buy; however, during their most recent golden years, that money was spent on guys that came up through the system- Jeter,Rivera, etc. Only when Georgie-boy started getting involved heavily again, did they start trying to buy rather than win championships again.

I wanted an all LA series, only so the Yanks would be out and so Torre could be the salt in their latest wounds- but that doesn't look like it's going to happen. The only plus side that I can find is that when they finally win it this year, we can stop hearing all this A-Rod postseason jinx talk. The less we hear about him, the better place the world will be.

posted by crqri at 02:24 PM on October 21

MKUltra beat me to the punch.

posted by crqri at 02:25 PM on October 21

Perhaps because Red Sox and most other teams don't buy 5-7 of the highest priced free agents each year.

That would be because they spent a kings ransom on just 1 high priced free agent from Japan that hasn't actually proved his worth as of yet.

You make them sound like a bad social disease ...

So... you trying to tell me that the Yankees and Yankee fans aren't a social disease?

posted by BornIcon at 02:52 PM on October 21

Jeter Rivera Posada Cano Melky Gardner Joba Hughes

With all due respect, with or without Pettite, that isn't a championship team. They're short two perennial MVPs, a leadoff hitter, two top tier starters and several role players. Add any of those bits to say, the Blue Jays, and they suddenly become a legitimate contender every year.

The Yankees may not be the only one buying wins year to year, but acting like there's something homegrown because a few prospects matured isn't really being honest.

posted by dfleming at 03:05 PM on October 21

if they shifted 25% of their payroll expenditures into their minor league system?

Two things: 1. Why is that an either-or proposition? Couldn't they just spend another 25%?

2. Is it even possible to spend $50 million on a minor league system every year? Sure you could wildly overpay young talent, but why bother, especially since you're limited to what you can draft plus undrafted and overseas talent? I suppose they could field a dozen more minor league teams than everyone else* in the hopes of turning up one more player per team or something, but I'm sure they've maximized their minor league spending.

That would be because they spent a kings ransom on just 1 high priced free agent from Japan that hasn't actually proved his worth as of yet

Given this has had 0 impact on them attempting to sign other free agents, that seems like a pointless dig. Especially since it's not like they were the only team bidding and they were doing it in a blind bid.

Yes the Red Sox are a big market bruiser just like the Yankees. There's no denying that and I'm not sure what the problem is. You can claim they're "not as bad", but it's just a question of degree and totally irrelevant to fans in Kansas City, etc.

* Can you do this? Are there rules governing the maximum number of players under contract throughout your system? Why not just buy the whole Independent League? Or maybe "American Legion Baseball Sponsored by the New York Yankees".

posted by yerfatma at 03:22 PM on October 21

Whether you win because you have a great farm system or a big checkbook doesn't matter. What matters is this is the way the game is played. Crying about the Yankees "buying" a championship makes as much sense as crying about only getting 3 outs an inning.

The NFL can support small market teams like Green Bay because the guys who set up that league set up a revenue sharing system that supports these smaller city teams. MLB did not. So, each year Pittsburgh holds a fire sale and each year New York and Boston take advantage of it. How can you blame them?

And before you drone on about how smaller markets have won championships in the latter stages of the free agency years, remember again that this is besides the point. It can be done without big spending, but as long as Boston can buy Curt Schilling and New York can buy A-Rod, why shouldn't they?

posted by Bruce007 at 04:14 PM on October 21

revenue sharing system that supports these smaller city teams. MLB did not.

This isn't accurate. MLB charges free-spending teams for every dollar above the Luxury Tax threshold and then sends that money back to small-market teams. Putting the lie to the idea that baseball's problem is simply one of economic inequity, some owners (KC, MIN, FLA) have often spent less on salaries than they receive in revenue sharing.

posted by yerfatma at 04:20 PM on October 21

It will be interesting to watch what happens to the Yankees when their mid-90's personnel core finally retires. Jeter has said he wants to play for awhile yet, which ensures the team's top-level identity. But the combination of Jeter, Posada and Rivera is the homegrown soul, not to mention three of its best players. Who are the Yankees when they go?

For all the Joba jabber, none of the new guys has reached top-tier status (and I say this as someone who repeatedly points out Cano's top-10 AL batting average and Melky Cabrera's walk-off knack). At least one of the callups has to be ascendant to get a little organizational continuity.

The Yanks were a half-step from turning into the circa-2001 Orioles the past two years--lots of free agents and few wins. CC and Teixeira have been good enough to hold that off. But for how long?

posted by werty at 04:23 PM on October 21

Jeter Rivera Posada Cano Melky Gardner Joba Hughes

With all due respect, with or without Pettite, that isn't a championship team.

"Bought" talent on the '08 World Champion Red Sox: Beckett, Dice-K, Okajima, Big Papi, Lowell, half-season of Manny. It's not a situation specific to the Yankees.

MLB charges free-spending teams for every dollar above the Luxury Tax threshold and then sends that money back to small-market teams.

Which many small-market team owners put in their pockets rather than on the payroll. The Luxury Tax system is a poor solution to a real problem.

Who are the Yankees when they go?

Cano. Joba. Phil Hughes. Melky, despite not being a stud, is clearly a great clubhouse presence, though I have a feeling he'll get dealt in the offseason.

posted by MKUltra at 04:47 PM on October 21

So the last several years with regards to the Yankees, it's been "You can't buy a championship." This season, it's "Of course they are buying a championship." Last year it was, "The Yankees are stupid for not signing Johan Santana and keeping Phil Hughes." This year it's no big deal they kept Phil Hughes because it's all about the other free agents they signed. Face it, the Yanks make money, they spend money. The Red Sox are major players in practically all free agents that come along, too. The Sox have been sending their homegrown players away in an attempt to pick up other players, finding success with some, not so much with others. Dice-K's signing is beginning to look like a hell of a lot of money for a mediocre pitcher. Fact is, the Yankees haven't won in years, so don't bash them for having one year where things are falling into place. Other teams have figured they can compete with them, and I truly believe you need a team such as the Yanks in baseball to keep the interest up. Everyone always chants for "parity," but when they finally get it, they don't like it. This money thing can be overrated when it still boils down to team chemistry. The Yankees of this season get along fantastically, something that has been missing in past seasons, and history shows you can't just bring in the highest-paid free agents and expect success without having guys who will get along together.

As for who can stop the Yanks, the umpiring I've seen in the playoffs, last night especially with McClelland, can potentially stop any team. Some of these calls are pathetic, and rather than rant about the need for instant replay, fly in another umpire to take the place of these guys who can't make fairly simple calls. What is there, a shortage of umpires now or something? McClelland's call on the ball Swisher tagged up on was ridiculous, only overshadowed by his complete screwing up of the play where two runners were tagged out at third base. These guys are either incompetent or choking under the pressure of the game itself.

posted by dyams at 05:23 PM on October 21

Some of us saw this team coming together earlier this year.

I hope A-Rod shuts up the naysayers forever.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:45 PM on October 21

Predicting the Yankees will be good isn't really going out on a limb. Especially if you do it in June.

posted by yerfatma at 06:36 PM on October 21

It's kind of amusing that the topic of the article is completely being ignored while a small acknowledgment of the yankee payroll has garnered all the attention. And that's kind of sad, but understandable. The fact that the lineup is so ferocious up and down loses its steam when you look at the money being spent. It becomes, 'well, no kidding, so what'.

They did not reach the World Series from 1982 through 1995.

Did they have this kind of payroll adavantage during those years? From 95-99 they averaged about 10 million more the second highest paying team. So I don't find the comparison holds much water. I don't remember salaries being discusses much before 2000 or so.

It takes more than the advantage of a massive payroll.

It certainly helps. If I have 200,000 to invest and you have 100,000, I have an advantage. I could throw it all away. It doesn't guarantee anything if I invest foolishly. But if I invest wisely, I'm in the drivers seat.

The yankees have made dumb decisions in the past. You throw enough money at the problem, eventually you'll probably come up aces. Having twice the payroll of most teams is a huge advantage. Pointing to a lack of a championship points to the fact that you still have to spend the money wisely, it doesn't prove it isn't a huge advantage.

Whenever the Red Sox succeed (which happens as often as the arrival of Haley's Comet), this "buying a pennant" shit never comes up for some reason.

Then you've lived under a rock. Articles about the Sox having the highest payroll of any WS winner as well as them being the new 'yankees' have been everywhere. Perhaps you've been blinded by Haley's Comet the last decade.

I would say the Yankees just did a better job last year in free agency then they have previously this decade. Adding Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixeira in a year could be one of the best groups of free agents ever (and most expensive).

Where doing a good job is nabbing the top 3 free agents available. This wasn't rocket science.

Yeah, because the BoSox weren't interested at all in picking up Tex. I don't know for sure about CC and AJ, but I have to imagine they were in the mix for those two as well. Don't pretend Boston is some bastion of home-grown talent.

Yes, the Red Sox were in the Tex sweepstakes, until it reached a certain dollar value, at which point they bowed out. Exactly when do you think the Yankees would have bowed out? How about... never? The point is not that the Red Sox are not interested in free agents, or that any team isn't interested in free agents, but that the Yankees are spending much more than anyone else to get those free agents.

The red sox will continue to sign free agents. You can't win without them. And as soon as they sign their next big one (holliday? Though the yankees *gasp* are considered the frontrunners) we'll have comments about the sox being just like the yankees. And those comments will be wrong if you look at the big picture.

That would be because they spent a kings ransom on just 1 high priced free agent from Japan that hasn't actually proved his worth as of yet.

Up until this year, Dice-K hasn't been a bad investment. If you actually look at the amount of money spent instead of saying 'kings ransom', though I agree it's fun to say.

Cano. Joba. Phil Hughes. Melky, despite not being a stud, is clearly a great clubhouse presence, though I have a feeling he'll get dealt in the offseason.

As a Red Sox fan I can hope this is tomorrows yankees. Sadly, it won't be.

The Yankees of this season get along fantastically, something that has been missing in past seasons, and history shows you can't just bring in the highest-paid free agents and expect success without having guys who will get along together.

I'll disagree slightly. I'd say that team chemistry has almost nothing to do with the Yankees success (neither did a fluke non-error streak). I'd say that team chemistry looks great when teams win, and bad when teams lose. To take a team with a 200 million dollar payroll and point to chemistry as the difference maker is laughable. Do you think the yankees chemistry is better than the angels? Is that the difference?

Team chemistry doesn't hit home runs, it doesn't throw strike outs. If it makes you feel better to point to team chemistry as to the reason the Yankees are better this year than last, and not the three top tier free agents they bought during the off season, then fine, but you are in denial. 423 million spent in one off season is great for chemistry.

On topic, the whole 'who has more home grown talent' is a red herring, and not what the article referred to. It's about team salary, period. And when it comes to team salary, it's the yankees, and every one else. It is, as someone said, a matter of degrees. If the Sox were playing the angels they'd have roughly a 10 million dollar advantage. The Yankees have roughly a 90 million dollar advantage over the Angels. To put that into perspective, that's more than the team payroll of 18 of the 30 teams in the league.

That's a huge advantage, and as much as yankee fans try and spin the sox as the their little brother, the facts don't back that up. The sox are no where near the yankees, and neither are the other 28 teams.

A part of me almost wishes the yankees would have a run of championships just to put a spotlight on what a farce team payrolls have become. Barring that, I don't see any change coming. Yankee fans would have no problem if the payroll was 400 million (they just need team chemistry). The league is happy as long as the league is popular. And other teams fans seem to be content with the fact that sometimes the Yankees will fail, and that's awesome I guess.

And really, that's the only saving grace. I disagree with hincandenza that this is a crapshoot. It still helps to have the best team on the field. But one hot pitcher can stop any team, and the angels are one out away from having this series tied 2-2.

It will be interesting to see where the yankees go over the next couple of years. I have little doubt that the yankees checkbook had no limit this past season in order to guarantee a first year championship in the new stadium. Will the open checkbook continue? And what if the yankees don't win this year. Maybe 250 million is within reach. Yep, great for baseball.

posted by justgary at 06:55 PM on October 21

"Bought" talent on the '08 World Champion Red Sox: Beckett, Dice-K, Okajima, Big Papi, Lowell, half-season of Manny. It's not a situation specific to the Yankees.

I explicitly said it wasn't. I was questioning your idea that the Yankees core is home-grown.

posted by dfleming at 07:27 PM on October 21

Team chemistry doesn't hit home runs, it doesn't throw strike outs.

Where in past years A-Rod was being bashed and criticized, even among his own teammates, and this year he has made it a point to enjoy himself, be involved with the others, and show some genuine enthusiasm, in my mind, has as much to do with him loosening up and producing this postseason as anything else. A-Rod has always been a tremendous talent, but being with a roster of guys that all like each other, have fun, and get along isn't something that's reserved just for little leaguers. It makes a difference in any sport. Sports is as much mental as anything else, and believing paying a guy a huge contract will always mean production is way too simplistic thinking. Same thing with Sabathia. He's not just any free agent, and he's more than a gigantic contract. He is a guy who supports his teammates. He sits in the dugout with everyone else between starts, where in the past, guys like Roger Clemens, a huge talent, only wanted to be around when he pitched. Don't tell me that didn't have an effect on the other players. Just because these guys are millionaires doesn't make them impervious to mental aspects of performance and competition.

posted by dyams at 08:19 PM on October 21

has as much to do with him loosening up and producing this postseason as anything else

Just so I'm clear: your perspective that he's enjoying himself more this season comes from the fact he's enjoying himself more this season which has led to him hitting better and smiling more; not that he's smiling more and enjoying himself because he's hitting well and you've noticed him smiling because there are more wins.

posted by yerfatma at 08:45 PM on October 21

Yeah, exactly.

No, I guess I'm swinging more towards your way of thinking that these guys are just robots with big bank accounts. Pay them money and they'll hit the most home runs.

No room to think of them as actual human beings.

posted by dyams at 08:48 PM on October 21

This isn't accurate. MLB charges free-spending teams for every dollar above the Luxury Tax threshold and then sends that money back to small-market teams. Putting the lie to the idea that baseball's problem is simply one of economic inequity, some owners (KC, MIN, FLA) have often spent less on salaries than they receive in revenue sharing.

Only a handful of teams have paid any luxury tax. You simply cannot compare this to the NFL's actual revenue sharing. And the NFL has a salary cap on top of that. This is why you don't see teams in the NFL selling off their top players to the highest bidder as you do in MLB. Once great baseball cities like Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have become strangers to the post season and do not have a good reason or opportunity to compete for the best.

In any event, I specifically pointed out that spending a lot of money will not guarantee you a championship. My point was that given MLB's financial structure, why wouldn't teams in New York, Boston and L.A. spend like they do?

posted by Bruce007 at 10:47 PM on October 21

and believing paying a guy a huge contract will always mean production is way too simplistic thinking.

You're calling that view simplistic thinking, and yet I'm dealing with facts and statistics. Signing high performance athletes for huge contracts is pretty concrete. Your opinion is apparently coming from some magical method of not only getting into the yankee locker room, but into the heads of the players themselves.

Where in past years A-Rod was being bashed and criticized...

A-Rod is having a great post season. He's a great player, so maybe that was bound to happen. Or maybe he has so much talent around him now he feels less pressure.

I think chemistry is about #99 on a list of 100 attributes found on top clubs, but even if I'm wrong and you're right it seems like the yankees being your proof is pretty weak. Maybe if they had the same team as last year, and the club had problems, and this year they had the same team, but with a new manager. I still would disagree that chemistry is what changed, but I can better understand where you're coming from. But pointing to chemistry when you have basically the same team and same manager but with 3 new high priced free agents seems seems remarkably shortsighted.

He sits in the dugout with everyone else between starts, where in the past, guys like Roger Clemens, a huge talent, only wanted to be around when he pitched.

Kind of ironic. When the yankees signed damon all I heard was that he would shake up the club house. He'd bring a new, winning attitude to the yankee clubhouse. Then they signed clemens and all I heard was how he was an inspiration to the yankees and how he'd take the young pitchers under his wing and how much joba was going to learn from him.

So now Sabathia has changed the chemistry. That's the difference. Not that Sabathia is 3 and 0 with a 1.19 ERA in the playoffs. I know we're not going to change each others minds, but I fail to see how you can stand by that claim.

The yankees are hitting each other with pies because they're winning, not the reverse. And the yankees should beat the angels because they have more talent, not because their chemistry is better.

My point was that given MLB's financial structure, why wouldn't teams in New York, Boston and L.A. spend like they do?

Those teams are already spending more money than anyone but the yankees, and they're in the playoffs. Could the Red Sox spend more? I'm sure they could. Could the Yankees then spend even more? Probably. An all out salary war doesn't solve anything. And having 4 other teams join the yankees at the 200 million level only makes problems worse, not better.

posted by justgary at 02:57 AM on October 22

Where in past years A-Rod was being bashed and criticized, even among his own teammates, and this year he has made it a point to enjoy himself, be involved with the others, and show some genuine enthusiasm, in my mind, has as much to do with him loosening up and producing this postseason as anything else.

If we're looking for psychological reasons why A Rod no longer sucks in the postseason, the biggest change in his life between then and now was last spring's admission that he abused steroids. Maybe getting that monkey off his back has made a difference.

posted by rcade at 09:23 AM on October 22

Up until this year, Dice-K hasn't been a bad investment. If you actually look at the amount of money spent instead of saying 'kings ransom', though I agree it's fun to say.

I agree... except that Dice-K hadn't proved anything in the MLB but was dominant in Japan which is why he was a highly sought after pitcher, including for his famous or is it infamous? gyro ball.

I love the word 'kings ranson', gets me all giddy inside for some reason.

posted by BornIcon at 10:23 AM on October 22

But pointing to chemistry when you have basically the same team and same manager but with 3 new high priced free agents seems seems remarkably shortsighted ...

Apologies for mentioning "chemistry" ... probably much more applicable to other team sports than baseball. By far buying the best talent year after year SHOULD be the formula for success. If CC and Tex had signed with Tampa / Toronto / Texas or a host of other teams we WOULD be watching them.

no problem if the payroll was 400 million

Sadly, it is possible for the Evil Empire to get worse than it already is.

What is needed is 2 or 3 years where the big spenders completely dominate the competition to drive the point home. I would suggest that fans in 70% of the markets already realize in spring training they have no hope. The remaining 30% realize that they are up against great odds due to the additional $80 million in talent that their opposition can purchase.

Sport should be based upon athletic competition .. The Yankees have turned Baseball into a financial competition.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:38 AM on October 22

except that Dice-K hadn't proved anything in the MLB

2008: 18-3, ERA+ 159. Not that his season was anywhere near as good as it looks on paper, but you're stretching the truth a bit.

posted by yerfatma at 01:11 PM on October 22

Sometime stats can be decieving. I'm not calling Dice-K a bum but for a player to be hyped the way he was coming out of Japan and to not even be much of a factor this year has to be somewhat disapppointing to Red Sox fans.

2009: 4-6 5.76 ERA ...although he was injured for most of the season.

posted by BornIcon at 04:00 PM on October 22

Predicting the Yankees will be good isn't really going out on a limb. Especially if you do it in June.

I did not predict that the Yankees would be good. I commented that they were playing well and seemed to be having fun, as I had just watched them play 3 games against the Rangers a few days earlier, and noticed that they, and particularly their dugout, seemed loose.

I'd say that team chemistry has almost nothing to do with the Yankees success (neither did a fluke non-error streak).

I'd venture to guess the Yankees themselves would disagree. And, fluke or not, that was the longest error free streak in the history of the game. Pretty noteworthy. Unless you're a Red Sox fan, I suppose.

posted by mjkredliner at 04:41 PM on October 22

I'd say that team chemistry has almost nothing to do with the Yankees success

All athletes are so strong-minded, centered, and have such a handle on things that all they have to do is sign for lots of money and everything comes together! They get along with everyone, hit everything out of the park, become fantastic teammates, you name it. Money takes care of everything.

Yeah, right. Find me a manager or coach in any sport that believes that and get back to me.

What is needed is 2 or 3 years where the big spenders completely dominate the competition to drive the point home.

Prove what point? That the Yankees spend a lot of money to win (maybe) one World Series since the beginning of the decade? You want teams other than the Yankees to win, and that's been happening. The Rays went to the World Series, out of the AL East, last year, getting past the Yankees and Red Sox, with a low team payroll. But you seem intent to make some sort of point that every single team can't compete? In what sport can every single team compete? There are pathetic franchises in every sport. The Pirates? They have a horrible baseball scouting system that evaluates talent poorly. If you don't know decent talent, you'll never be successful even if there's a salary cap. The Baltimore Orioles were free-spenders several years ago, but they found out handing big money to just any free agent (ex. Albert Belle), doesn't work. He's a dick. The team hated him, the city hated him, and he hated everyone.

But team chemistry doesn't matter.

posted by dyams at 05:08 PM on October 22

I'd venture to guess the Yankees themselves would disagree. And, fluke or not, that was the longest error free streak in the history of the game. Pretty noteworthy. Unless you're a Red Sox fan, I suppose.

If you can find where I said it wasn't noteworthy I'd love to see it. Is the ability to read things that aren't there a Yankee talent? But you are correct, it was the longest error free streak in the history of the game. That's what it was. Nothing more. Though, I must admit, you assuming the support of the entire Yankee team is a pretty impressive trick.

But team chemistry doesn't matter.

That's not what I said. I said it wasn't the difference between the 2008 Yankees and this years Yankees.

You brought up Albert Belle to prove that, I'm guessing, team chemistry matters. It's telling that you have to bring up such an extreme player to try and prove your point (exactly who would Albert Belle be on the 2008 Yankees?).

The 99/00 Orioles could score runs, thanks mostly to Albert Belle. The problem was not chemistry (I know, you're not really into cold, hard statistics, but humor me). Their problem was pitching. The Yankees, who scored more runs than the Orioles, have a team ERA of 4.28. The Orioles had a team ERA of 4.77 in 99 and a whopping 5.37 in 2000.

Instead of discussing team chemistry on an Orioles team that wasn't nearly as talented as the 2009 Yankees, a better discussion would be just how bad they would have been without Albert Belle's contributions.

Again, that you're pointing to team chemistry as the reason the 2009 Yankees are better than the 2008 Yankees instead of adding 3 top free agents (ignoring Swisher) is a ridiculous statement. It's one step above a player thanking God for his home run, or giving credit to the ghost in old Yankee Stadium.

To point to team chemistry when you have Sabathia completely dominating the 3 games he's pitched, including one on short rest, to pin success on chemistry instead of the almost complete all-star lineup the Yankees send up to the plate is the type of nonsense that firejoemorgan use to lampoon during their heyday.

Yeah, right. Find me a manager or coach in any sport that believes that and get back to me.

When you actually comment on anything I've said or defend your position with anything more than a couple of lines of sarcastic rhetoric you get back to me. Otherwise, please don't bother.

posted by justgary at 07:44 PM on October 22

You the MAN!

posted by dyams at 08:45 PM on October 22

The '98 Orioles had Belle, the highest paid player in the game. They had the highest payroll in baseball. They finished 35 games back in the standings. So a team with the highest payroll in the game, with Belle, Palmiero, Alomar, Ripken, Brady Anderson, Eric Davis, etc. can do no better than 35 games back? Didn't sound to me like a team too short on talent, even if their pitching wasn't world class. The Yankees spend more than any other team this season and everyone feels it's just a matter of taking the field and getting to the post season and World Series, while the rest of the league gets trampled by them. The Orioles make a splash, adding the biggest free agent there was at that time, and finish 35 games back? Maybe the highest team payroll doesn't guarantee winning.

posted by dyams at 09:06 PM on October 22

From the Tampa Bay Rays website following their run from last season:

Athletes are prone to pooh-pooh the notion of club chemistry in the belief that talent is the essential ingredient for success. Last year's version of the Rays possessed a marvelous chemistry even though it came up short on paper when compared to the talent on this year's team. Inside Tampa Bay's clubhouse, there are now more believers about the importance of team chemistry.

"I hate to admit it, but chemistry is a big deal," Carl Crawford said. "Last year it was. Nobody had a big season except for the pitchers. But we still won games. It might be more important than some people think. I think it was big for us."

Crawford said he had never been around a team that had as much chemistry as last year's club.

"That showed me how much of a difference it can make as far as the importance of playing and how a team does," Crawford said.

Shields believes chemistry is "huge."

"No matter how good of a team you have, the chemistry has to be there, I think," Shields said. "You look at the Yankees' team last year. On paper, they had a great team, and they didn't make the playoffs. Chemistry has a lot to do with it."

Howell went so far as to say "it's all chemistry."

"It's 70 percent chemistry, 30 percent talent," Howell said. "Look at the Yankees right now. They're clowning around more than us and they're older. It's just how tight you are as a core. If chemistry's not there, there's no way you can do it."

Even though this year's team did not make the playoffs, Howell said the group didn't have bad chemistry, but...

"It needed to be better," Howell said. "It wasn't bad, but it could be better. That definitely could be a factor for why things happened for us the way they did this season."

posted by dyams at 09:30 PM on October 22

It's human nature to believe that your team has chemistry when it's winning. But do you ever hear a losing team talk about how they did poorly in spite of their great chemistry?

I think chemistry is 99 44/100ths percent bullshit, myself. It's like the belief that new tennis shoes make you run faster.

Crawford said he had never been around a team that had as much chemistry as last year's club.

Crawford had never been around a team that finished less than 20 games below .500 before last year's club.

posted by rcade at 10:27 PM on October 22

But do you ever hear a losing team talk about how they did poorly in spite of their great chemistry?

No. It's about how great chemistry results in winning.

I think chemistry is 99 44/100ths percent bullshit, myself.

And you're not playing major league baseball. It's the mental aspect of success and winning that the perceived "great chemistry" impacts that is important. The thing that annoys me about this part of the discussion is how people seem to want to ignore the importance of the mental aspect of winning, even with highly-paid baseball players.

posted by dyams at 10:44 PM on October 22

No. It's about how great chemistry results in winning.

Do you realize how circular that logic is? If you win, that means you had great chemistry. And great chemistry is what makes you win. I am, therefore I am.

And you're not playing major league baseball.

That's some pretty weak stuff you're lobbing over the plate.

posted by rcade at 10:59 PM on October 22

Fine. You think it's bullshit. Major league players believe in it. Paul Azinger talked about team chemistry non-stop when building and trying to win with the Ryder Cup team he captained. But since rcade thinks it's bullshit, so be it. I'm lobbing weak stuff over the plate. Azinger builds a team lacking the greatest golfer in the history of the game based, for several captains picks especially, on chemistry. I'm sure he's lobbing weak stuff, too.

I don't offer enough stats and justgary puffs out his chest and tells me not to bother. I offer the views of some major league players, rcade claims I'm lobbing weak stuff. Like is so common on this site, the views of about 5 individuals carry all the weight, and they pile on anyone else who dares disagree or offer a different viewpoint than any one of them.

posted by dyams at 11:27 PM on October 22

I offer the views of some major league players, rcade claims I'm lobbing weak stuff.

The weak stuff was the "and you're not playing major league baseball" comment. What kind of argument is that? I can't recall seeing a lineup card with your name on it either.

I don't get where this "anyone who dares disagree" foofaraw is coming from, but my comments about chemistry had nothing to do with you personally. I just don't buy the whole "team chemistry" thing as a major determinant of sports success. I think it's an effect of winning, not a cause. Crawford talks about the Yankees lacking team chemistry last year, but it's almost the same team this year and they're world beaters.

This year's Milwaukee Brewers loved each other so much they performed walk-off home run skits. This got them third place in the NL Central. I think they would've traded their great team chemistry for Sabathia.

As a personal aside, if you think Gary and I are always teaming up and piling on people, you must have missed that home run skit thread and the heated exchange over Ortiz and Ramirez and doping. Dude got all up in my business and I was like bitch step off. We came thisclose to banning each other.

posted by rcade at 12:16 AM on October 23

The weak stuff was the "and you're not playing major league baseball" comment. What kind of argument is that?

The kind of argument that a player in the major league trenches is closer to the influence that chemistry has in those trenches than someone who is not. How is that point not relevant?


Crawford talks about the Yankees lacking team chemistry last year, but it's almost the same team this year and they're world beaters.

Did you miss the memo where they brought in a handful of free agents that have been a topic of discussion some this year? Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira, Swisher -- still the same team? Not that that matters, because the Rays ARE essentially the same team as last year, so clearly chemistry isn't an issue, because chemistry between people never wavers over years at a time.

Basically, you're saying that there is no amount of evidence presented by major league players that's going to change your own well-honed perception of the role of chemistry in an environment you have supreme skill at imagining yourself in. What great good fortune that you are willing to share your insight with us here.

posted by EnglishSpin at 01:33 AM on October 23

The kind of argument that a player in the major league trenches is closer to the influence that chemistry has in those trenches than someone who is not. How is that point not relevant?

Thank you.

Me saying rcade never played baseball isn't a personal attack. Justgary tries to cut me off from my opinion because I can't offer team chemistry statistics. So I attempted to provide some examples of how guys actually playing in the major leagues, the ones we're talking about, think about this same topic. I realize many who post on this site have become touchy when another person throws out the "You never played the game" argument, but this wasn't a case of that. I'm merely trying to point out that on any given year, the team chemistry issue is what can push talented baseball players (or other athletes) over the top. It speaks to the mental aspect of professional sports which I think gets overlooked by many who want to only look at numbers and big contracts.

posted by dyams at 05:52 AM on October 23

Basically, you're saying that there is no amount of evidence presented by major league players that's going to change your own well-honed perception of the role of chemistry in an environment you have supreme skill at imagining yourself in. What great good fortune that you are willing to share your insight with us here.

That's exactly what I meant, EnglishSpin. Thank you for noticing. I was afraid that some people might think that I was merely skeptical of a Major Leaguer's comments about team chemistry because it's a self-reinforcing superstition that winning teams embrace and losing teams ignore, like how winning Super Bowl players credit God but losing players never damn him.

But as you clarified, there is absolutely no evidence that would change my mind on this issue. I engage in discussion here purely as a masturbatory exercise to revel in my own correctness.

Finally that monkey is off my back.

posted by rcade at 08:28 AM on October 23

"Winning creates chemistry more than the other way around. I've seen clubs that don't necessarily like each other, but they respected each other once they got on the field, and that's more important than being happy to go out to dinner with each other." -- manager Joe Torre

"You're always going to have great chemistry when you win. When you lose, I don't care how good of guys they are, they're going to hate each other and you're going to have a miserable summer. I believe chemistry comes from leadership and respect. I believe that anywhere in life, any job, you're not going to have chemistry if you don't have success." -- manager Ozzie Guillen

"I've been on teams where there was one guy -- and it wasn't Barry -- who made everyone miserable. But you're not thinking about that when you're on the field. Not at all. It's a nonissue. I don't really see how it affects the team's play. Will you throw 95 instead of 90 because you're happier in the clubhouse? Will you throw strikes?" -- pitcher Jason Schmidt

"Chemistry is easy to talk about because it's impossible to measure, impossible to disprove any statement made about it. This makes it almost the exact opposite of actual chemistry, by the way. A better word would be 'metaphysics.'" -- columnist King Kaufman

"Countless players observe the time-honored superstition of not stepping on the foul line (except for the ones who observe the time-honored counter-superstition of stepping ON the foul line)." -- Seattle Times

posted by rcade at 08:48 AM on October 23

rcade, thats some pretty funny stuff you're lobbing over the plate.

It made my morning. Good discussion, gentlemen.

posted by mjkredliner at 08:54 AM on October 23

...like how winning Super Bowl players credit God but losing players never damn him

Larry Fitzgerald after the Super Bowl loss to the Steeler...

LF: If it wasn't for the Big Guy dropping the ball, I believe that we would've won that game. I just can't believe that with His all knowing powers, that He didn't know that Kurt called an audible at the line for a two man out post pattern and He decides to streak instead. You just have to wonder..what was He thinking out there? He can turn water into wine, He can even walk on water but He drops a sure fire TD pass? What's up with that? I'm also disappointed that He chose to wear those sandals instead of cleats. Damn Him!

Or something like that

posted by BornIcon at 09:01 AM on October 23

The point of large payrolls is not that they buy success, it's that they buy off mistakes. A few years ago the Rockies made some major big-money mistakes in free agency, overpaying Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton. It took 4-5 years for them to recover from that financially. If the Yankees or Mets or BoSox make the same mistake, no big whup.

posted by drumdance at 10:50 AM on October 23

"I believe that anywhere in life, any job, you're not going to have chemistry if you don't have success." -- manager Ozzie Guillen

I've never argued that point. I totally agree. Who gives a shit about the chemistry of a losing team. They're losers. It doesn't matter. My comments were about teams that win (not necessarily win it all, but win more than they lose). Most teams that are huge losers don't have any great chemistry, thus they're losers. As for the guys going out to dinner together, as Torre's quote mentions, that's not what I'm proposing as a measure of team chemistry.

Anyways, this subject has been beat to death. I believe winners achieve positive team chemistry, others don't believe in it. So be it.

posted by dyams at 05:17 PM on October 23

The Yankees spend more than any other team this season and everyone feels it's just a matter of taking the field and getting to the post season and World Series, while the rest of the league gets trampled by them.

Nope, they must still play up to their capabilities. What that takes is up to each player. Maybe a key player chokes, maybe a key player goes into a slump, as Teixeira has been in lately. But when you've got talent top to bottom (which is what the linked article was about), you can cover slumps better. More talent gives you a better chance of winning. The Yankees have the most talent, they've got the best shot. Doesn't guarantee anything of course, or they wouldn't play the game.

The Orioles make a splash, adding the biggest free agent there was at that time, and finish 35 games back? Maybe the highest team payroll doesn't guarantee winning.

You're completely changing the topic. I never said that it did guarantee winning. I would disagree with that. What I disagreed with is your claiming that the free agents brought chemistry, and that has put the Yankees over the top. So I'm not sure what you're proving by referring to the Orioles payroll. Yes, you can spend money unwisely and lose. And you can have bad pitching and lose. But I'm not sure how Chemistry sunk their pitching.

I don't offer enough stats and justgary puffs out his chest and tells me not to bother.

Your response was this:

All athletes are so strong-minded, centered, and have such a handle on things that all they have to do is sign for lots of money and everything comes together! They get along with everyone, hit everything out of the park, become fantastic teammates, you name it. Money takes care of everything.

Can you not read the sarcastic, condescending tone? You ignored everything I said and came back with a couple of lines that completely had nothing to do with what I said. If you can't see what that type discussion is non-preductive, I don't know what to tell you.

Though I can understand your frustration. By definition its tough to back up the effect of chemistry, especially when you can't get into the players head, and you can't get into the yankees locker room, so your thoughts on their chemistry is a guess at best.

the views of about 5 individuals carry all the weight, and they pile on anyone else who dares disagree or offer a different viewpoint than any one of them.

I don't know where you get this dyams. This isn't a contest and we don't have teams. As rcade said, I think we've disagreed as much as any two members, and even though he's usually wrong I'd still invite him over to dinner if he didn't live 400 miles away (though I'm saving the expensive wine for right thinking folk).

because the Rays ARE essentially the same team as last year

The Rays played over their heads last year (I think run differential would show that, maybe not, don't quote me on it). I don't think they have the talent of the Red Sox or the Yankees. They had a rough season, and so I can see where chemistry might have been different. Which do you think would have helped more, better chemistry, or sabathia and tex?

Justgary tries to cut me off from my opinion

You really need to let the persecution complex rest. You can write whatever you like. I'm not cutting you off. Please don't act as if you were discussing in good faith from the paragraph I quoted. And don't end with a sarcastic "get back with me when..." if you can't take a sarcastic response without feeling attacked.

Most teams that are huge losers don't have any great chemistry, thus they're losers.

Most teams that are huge losers don't have talent, therefore they have bad team chemistry. The problem with the royals and pirates isn't team chemistry. They don't have the talent to compete, so they're big losers. They need talent. If there's a chemistry problem, you deal with that later, because talent is far more important.

You say you're finished with this dyams, and that's fine. If you feel you're being attacked, I'm sorry. Not my intention. We simply disagree completely. So I'll end my part with just a few comments and let it be:

When theo held his season ending conference about what went wrong with the Red Sox chemistry was never mentioned. If you asked the 22 teams that didn't make the playoffs what they need to be better next season, what do you think they would say? Pitching, or hitting, or fielding, or depth. Improving those areas is the quickest way to winning.

Maybe Sabathia is a great guy, and maybe he helped club chemistry. But he was also the same guy in cleveland, and milwaukee. His chemistry didn't push those teams to the world series. But now he's 1 game away with the yankees. Why? Because the yankees are a better team than his previous employers. Sabathia is 3 and 0 in the playoffs. He's been dominating. Sabathia mowing down the Angels in 2 games, one on short rest, is the difference between the Yankees being behind instead of ahead in the series. That is talent. That is not chemistry. They didn't come to the Yankees and suddenly play differently. They came to the Yankees and simply reproduced what they had done before, which was better than the players they replaced.

The 2008 yankees had flaws. The added the best pitcher available and he's pitched like he always has. They picked up the best hitter available and he led the league in home runs (not to mention how many runs has he saved at first base?). Just by being the players they've always been they made the Yankees immensely better. Hell, swisher has 29 home runs and 82 rbi himself. If Swisher played for the Red Sox he'd be second in that category. He's hitting 7th for the Yankees.

Simply overwhelming talent.

I'm not saying chemistry isn't important, though I've always believed that winning brought chemistry. And since we've brought actual players opinions in the mix, most I've read have agreed. But I don't think it's in the same neighborhood as talent. As a Yankee fan, I'm sure you remember the bronx zoo. Yankee players were fighting and constantly at each others throats, and they won. Because they were talented.

posted by justgary at 06:40 PM on October 23

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