High payroll not key to success for Yankees

By Majesh Abraham

If the New York Yankees were a publicly traded company, they would be the worst investment in the world right now. Consider this: George Steinbrenner has spent almost a billion dollars on the Yankees payroll since 2000, and the Yankees have the same number of World Series rings in that time as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Now the latest news out of New York has Joe Torre being fired and being replaced by Lou Pinella. Sweet Lou’s not going to solve the Yankees problems. It’s not like Joe Torre had a brain cramp and became a bad manager just this season. He’s the same manager who brought you four World Series titles in five years.

Instead of always blaming the manager, people have to start looking at the person right above the manager in the team hierarchy, the guy who brought all the players in – the general manager. Yankees GM Brian Cashman needs to be fired, and you don’t have to look too deep to see why.

If your payroll is $200 million dollars, how can you have Chein-Ming Wang as your Game-1 starter? Sorry, but Wang just doesn’t breed any kind of confidence in your team’s ability to win the Series, as say a true No. 1 like Johan Santana. But the problem was that Wang was the best pitcher for the Yankees during the season.

Cashman’s high-priced pitcher acquisitions such as Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, and Jaret Wright didn’t work out at all. Johnson’s been plagued with injuries and simply been out of form, Pavano has been out with an injury the last two years, and Wright has just been plain bad.

I could have told you that these guys are going to struggle in a Yankees uniform, so its incomprehensible that Cashman, whose job it is to pick these players, could not have foreseen it. First of all, it is much harder for National League pitchers to make the transition to the American League, and all these guys were from the NL. AL lineups are harder to pitch against because there are no easy outs like the pitcher is in the NL. Instead you have a proven hitter in the designated hitter. This is why you see former aging AL pitchers dominating in the NL, such as Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez; even Bronson Arroyo had a good year.

Second of all, Johnson is 6’9, 41 years old, and has bad knees. With that combination he was bound to break down at some point. Pavano had only one good year with the Marlins before the Yankees overpaid for a guy who wasn’t even a proven starter yet. Wright resurrected his career with the Braves, but Atlanta makes a lot of average pitchers look good, and as soon as they leave the Braves, they regress – and Wright was no exception.

New York was still touted as the favorite to win it all this year because of their “Murderer’s Row” lineup, but the offensive juggernaut assembled by Cashman couldn’t even steal a hit in the playoffs. Big names like Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon are just that – big names. But they are all past their primes.

Of course, nobody can forget about the $252 million man and his infamous failures in October. But if you look at A-Rod’s numbers in the playoffs in his Seattle days, he was hitting a robust .342 compared to a sub .250 average with the Yankees. The reason for the difference is something that money can’t buy: chemistry.

There were plenty of reports of Rodriguez’s alienation in the Yankee clubhouse, and it’s no surprise considering all the egos in the Bronx. Earlier this year, Rodriguez was confronted by known juicer Giambi for not getting the “big hits”. What right does Giambi have to call A-Rod out? When was the last time you ever saw Giambi on ESPN Classic delivering a game-winning single? That’s right. It never happened. Even the Yankees captain, Derek Jeter, who was good friends with A-Rod previously, has problems with Rodriguez because of comments made by A-Rod about Jeter in a magazine interview a few years ago. Wow, with this much drama the Yankees clubhouse would make a great reality TV show.

People tend to forget that A-Rod is human, and when normal people don’t like their job or the people they are working with, its going to affect their performance on the job. This is why chemistry is key. When you think of championship teams, you think of team baseball, teammates picking each other up and supporting each other, not a fractured clubhouse.

This year’s playoffs are definitive proof that spending lots of money on your payroll doesn’t mean anything, as proven by the Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Dodgers and the Yanks who are all sitting at home right now. It’s said that money can’t buy happiness, and unfortunately for Steinbrenner, it can’t buy World Series titles either.

Majesh Abraham is a junior in LAS, and he, unlike happiness, can be bought by money. So George, if you are reading this, he can be reached at [email protected]