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Your annual "all hope is lost in the AL East" story

Dec 23, 2009, 11:20 AM EDT

It’s from Ken Rosenthal this year, who thinks that the rest of the AL East should “just give up.”  It’s less an argument than a rundown of the the deals the Red Sox and Yankees have made so far this offseason, and which Rosenthal thinks aren’t over yet (“I guarantee you, their outfield next season will not be
Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner”).

Look, I know it sucks really, really bad to be a fan of an AL East team that isn’t New York or Boston, but multiple people write this same article every year, and it’s a lazy exercise.

Lazy because it it ignores the fact that the Rays are a really, really good team from top to bottom. A team that, while they definitely underperformed last year, was in striking distance for a large part of the season.  A team whose fans certainly aren’t giving up.

Lazy because it assumes that Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada are going to be effective forever. That Kevin Youkilis won’t take a little step back. That CC Sabathia or Jon Lester or anyone else won’t blow out his elbow.  I’m not suggesting that the Jays, Orioles and Rays need to pin their hopes on some disaster to win anything, but why is it so hard to analyze what actually happens in a given year as opposed to just assuming that what happened last year will happen next year?

The financial structure of the game is what it is, and for many fans, it’s depressing.  But if it’s so depressing that you “just give up” on following the games and rooting for your team, you may as not watch any baseball at all.

  1. doug - Dec 23, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    Since 1994, only twice has anyone but the Yankees or Red Sox won the AL East. In other words, the last 15 years say Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Toronto have a collective 13.3 percent chance to win the division and a 4.4 percent chance individually. Fight on, 4.4-ers.

  2. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 23, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    Winning the division isn’t the necessary goal. Thanks to the WC, they can shoot for 2nd and fight it out in the playoffs.
    The Rosenthal article is flat out terrible.

  3. Roger C - Dec 23, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    Baseball needs a solid salary cap. It’s a joke that the Yankees spend $200M a year on players. Meanwhile the cost of taken a family to a game has gotten out of reach for most. The small market teams just cannot fairly compete. Why does a baseball player need to get paid $12M a year when we know they would play the game for free if not given a chance to get paid. Is $2M a year not enough? Baseball is heading for its own bubble and crash. They need to wake up before it’s too late.

  4. APBA Guy - Dec 23, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    The game is to make the playoffs, then in a short series anything can happen. I suspect that the numbers that Doug quotes would be equally depressing for playoff spots as they are for winning the division.
    But I disagree that the main reason the Red Sox and Yankees win is because of money. Both those teams use their money very smartly. And particularly in the case of the Red Sox, whose payroll is not significantly higher than the Dodgers, Mets, Angels, and even Seattle, their record of making the playoffs and then doing well into the postseason is excellent.
    So yes, it is depressing for an Orioles fan to see the Yankees and Sox make intelligent moves year after year, while your owner chases off Pat Gillick. It is frustrating that the Blue Jays stuck with JP Ricciardi long after it became clear he did not have the answers at the GM level.
    But the Orioles and the Jays have enough money to compete. They need to be smarter than they’ve been. Much smarter. Maybe they’re on the right track now. We’ll know in 2 more years.
    As for the Rays, they have immense talent but are suffering from young pitcher-itis, namely, the inconsistency of having a pitching staff made up of all young pitchers. As Craig points out they were close most of the year. But they couldn’t get any consistent stops in August and September from Garza, Price, etc. Now next year the pitchers will be a year older. So maybe. At least there is hope. And the management there understands what their operating parameters are, and are very clear-eyed about talent and value. Would a new ballpark help? Of course. Boosting payroll by $ 15M a year as a result would be terrific, if the money is spent wisely.
    Look, even Cashman and Theo make mistakes. So does Billy Beane. Every GM does. How do these great GM’s cover their mistakes, and how good are their “good” decisions? Like the English Premier League, MLB is a win or else proposition. And big money results in big expectations.
    So to compete with Theo and Cashman other GM’s have to be smart and spend their money wisely. And their owners have to be smarter, much smarter, than they’ve been.

  5. smokehouse - Dec 23, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    Roger C, just who gets the rest of the money if players played for 2 mil a year? Don’t tell me ticket prices would go do. That’s like ending a federal tax. Never happen. TV will still pay the same price for they yearly packages. Only one to profit to that is the only one left. The owner! And I hate that also. Baseball needs a salary cap and fewer games. Daytime world series games, cheaper parking and food. I lived through the 50’s and baseball was beautiful, even if the evil empire won most of the time.

  6. dcfan-1212450 - Dec 23, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    The Tampa Rays, Minnesota Twins, and Florida Marlins prove teams with low payrolls can win. The Mets, Mariners, Rangers and Tigers show that large spending doesn’t mean wins. Give more credit where credit is due concerning the Yankees and Red Sox. Especially Boston, who have Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester, Papelbon, Ellsbury, and Buckholtz all making big contributions and all being from their farm systems. And ask Don Mattingly how many World Series’s the big names and large contracts for the Yankees in the 80’s and early 90’s translated into. Should baseball have a salary cap, yes, but does it absolutely need one, no.

  7. Eat a Peach - Dec 23, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    I bet Bruce the “I really really sincerely don’t understand this thing called parody even though I claim to read the Onion” guy likes Ken Rosenthal.
    One very good reason to go to Rotoworld or CTB is so that you can get your rumor-monger on without having to read Rosenthal’s sub-literate junk. Craig and the guys do that for you. Keep it up fellas – keep reading that crap and all the other crap and good stuff on your RSS feeds for me and spinning it into comedy.

  8. YANKEES1996 - Dec 23, 2009 at 2:19 PM

    When you look at the AL East it has become apparent that the Jays and the Orioles have no intention of putting teams together that will compete within the division or baseball as a whole. You cannot however punish the Yankees and Red Sox for their success, baseball is a business just like any other pro sport and if the other teams are unwise with their choices or unwilling to bring success to their franchises I truly don’t see how successful teams can be blamed.
    Peter Angelos in Baltimore for instance has been destroying the Orioles for years now and the fan base has thinned because of it, face it no matter who who cheer for people will only support a loser for so long. The Rays have caught on and done a fantastic job with their club and their farm system and it is paying off for them. Their 2009 season was good but they never seemed to be able to build on the progress they made during the season, face it in a long baseball season you need luck as much as you do skill. I truly believe the Rays could have won the Series in 2008 if they had simply been able to hold on to the momentum they built during the series they played against the Sox, but things just went wrong for them.
    Baseball does not need a salary cap, they have revenue sharing and luxury tax, what needs to happen is the owners of these smaller market teams need to be smarter about player development, drafting and not destroying their farm systems. The Diamondbacks, Marlins and Blue Jays have proven in the past that small market teams can win the World Series, now they just need to get their plans together and do it!

  9. Eat a Peach - Dec 23, 2009 at 2:31 PM

    The O’s are sneaking up on you self-satisfied Empire dwellers. They’ve quietly put together one of the best farm systems in baseball, and it’s starting to bear fruit at the major league level already. They may turn the AL East into a Big Four soon enough, even as a Sox fan I include the Rays as a Big Three member now.

  10. YANKEES1996 - Dec 23, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    We self satisfied Empire Dwellers agree with you to a certain point. The Rays have done an outstanding job and should take great pride in the club as they have managed to build a good organization, the O’s however are a different story. The pitching for the O’s seems to have no discernible direction and several of their prospects are still years away. I have traveled to Baltimore on several occasions to see the Yanks play there and there are few selected of their players that show flashes now. The O’s are very much a club that is rebuilding and there is no way to know how long it will take to complete the job, but the internal bickering of the admin is what is slowing things down. The manager of the team who ever it is never seems to have the control that his job requires. This year when they brought Matt Weiters up to the Show there were arguments in their organization over whether he was going to straight out be given the starting job or he was just going to be played on occasion so he could get a feel for the major league level. This is what I said in my previous post these clubs need to stop the arguing, and self destruction and everyone needs to be motivated to chase one single objective. Several of the Yankee players said after the Series this year that there was a true sense that all the players were on the same page and all the individual stuff had been set aside so that winning a championship was the mutual goal, that mentality is what these other teams need to imitate.

  11. Eat a Peach - Dec 23, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    What a totally reasonable and logical argument. The O’s are coming though, and you may be right that Angelos dysfunction will prevent it from bearing fruit, but their farm system is humming right now.

  12. Rome - Dec 23, 2009 at 4:03 PM

    The Rays last year greatly underachieved an STILL finished 2 games over .500. When was the last time that a team lost 11 striaght games, had a perfect game thrown against, lost their starting First Basemen for the last 30 games of the season, and have your closer and two middle relivers go down with long term injuries and still manage to finish above .500?
    The Yankees can add who they want. The have the resources to pull from with the YES network and the establish logo that has been around the MLB since what? 1908? The money comes to they Yankees and they spend it. The Yankees have and almost will always have a high payroll. The Problem with the Yankees in comparision to the Rays, and even the Red Sox for that matter, is the Sox and Yanks can afford to be wrong on players. The Yankees signed Carl Pavano to big contract and it did not hurt the Yankees in the slightest when did not produce. The Red Sox can spend 40 million on Julio Lugo and not blink an eye. The Rays drop 18 million on Burrell who has yet to produce and it prevents the Rays from holding on to Kazmir.
    The Blue Jays are pretty much rebuilding but don’t let that fool you. The Jays will still be competitve and play hard.
    The O’s have a very sharp team w/ the Like of Jones, Wieters and a sharp starting pitching staff. The O’s will be better then most people think.
    The bottom line. The East is up for grabs despite what most might tell you.

  13. Old Gator - Dec 23, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    The Feather Lice North and Feather Lice Central don’t have to “pin their hopes on a disaster.” They are disasters. Anyone who seriously thinks either team won’t have a view of the field by August probably believes that The Rapture is coming in 2012 as well. Idiotic. Those things have been extinct for a hundred million years and not even cloning will bring them back.

  14. John from CT - Dec 23, 2009 at 4:28 PM

    I am a die hard Yankee fan, but it hurts when I have to sell a kidney just so I can take my family of 5 to see my favorite team play. I’m running out of body parts!!! If a salary cap means that stadium ticket prices will go down, then I’m all for it.

  15. Josh - Dec 23, 2009 at 4:28 PM

    As unbelievably fun as it may be to always rag on the Yankees and Red Sox, people must remember the Phillies and Mets (among other teams) aren’t exactly trailing either team by very much in payroll. Also, With a salary cap, there must also be a minimum. Why not complain about teams like the Pirates, where the owner is making a fortune while putting together a pathetic team year after year? Many teams can compete with the big boys as long as they’re willing to try hard. Plus the Rays and the Marlins (among other teams) show that a small payroll can certainly win.

  16. bh0673 - Dec 23, 2009 at 4:49 PM

    John I think your kidneys are worth alot more. Tickets start at $5.00 in the bleachers and even the second deck can be had for as little as $45.00 a ticket. DO you have to sit in field level seats? Do you have to sit between the bases to enjoy a game? Lets see I sit in section 206 main level, 4 tickets $180.00, parking $20.00, 4 hotdogs or sausage sandwiches with a soda $52.00 tops. Compares to the cost of a broadway show and dinner in NY, or even a day at 6 Flags the cost is well within reason of other venues in and around NY. What are Jets and Giant tickets going for nose bleeds are way higher then Yankee tickets, parking at Giant Stadium $25.00 and the food is comparable. To spend $250.00 for a day out for the family isn’t a drop in the bucket but it is still the price of day or night out in New York. Sit in the Grandstand a day at a game for a family of 4 would be $152.00. A salary cap will not change the price of the game, and even if a salary cap were implemented there is no gaurantee all owners would even spend the maximum. Ninety percent of the tickets at Yankee Stadium are in line with other New York activities, unfortunetly we live in an expensive part of the country. DOn’t blame the Yankees payroll, the Mets tickets are very close.

  17. mikemfla - Dec 23, 2009 at 5:17 PM

    so the yankees won once in the last nine years. that means smaller market teams won 8 of 9. the dodgers, cubs, angels, indians, baltimore and others play in significant sized markets but havent won in a very long time. do not tell me there’s no money in LA or chicago to field a team that would be competitive with the yankees and boston (which itself isnt in the top 5 in market size). you need to look at the commitment the ownership has to winning and the baseball prowess of its executives. the indians this year had a $30 million operating profit. the yankees didnt have that and neither did boston. why didnt cleveland take that money and invest it into 2 or 3 players that would help them instead of the owners pocketing that money? because they dont have the commitment to win or the baseball IQ to do it.
    baseball should retract down to the number of teams that are able and willing to be competitive. it started in the major markets of the east and was wildly successful. diluting the product is never good.

  18. mikemfla - Dec 23, 2009 at 5:30 PM

    exactly right josh. yeah i’m a yankee fan but from 79 thru 95 they didnt win a damn thing and i know boston didnt either so who was winning the division during those years? toronto did well and so did baltimore. yankee fans werent crying about it. the yankees spent a ton of money during that time but they did not spend wisely. the mets for instance have spent a fortune the last few years and have failed miserably. meanwhile well structured low salary teams like tampa and minnesota are competitive. you are also right that a floor would also need to be established. as i pointed out with cleveland and you did with the pirates, the owners are making money but they dont care enough to reinvest it and make their teams better.

  19. YANKEES1996 - Dec 23, 2009 at 5:34 PM

    I agree with some of your statements but not all. Even for the Yankees and Red Sox I defy you to find anyone in their organizations that will tell you that Pavano and Lugo were not mistakes that hurt the respective clubs. Having money and the motivation to spend it is good, spending it on the wrong thing always hurts even if the signs are not completely visible to the spectators. Be assured that someone in the respective clubs was spoken to about their recommendations on those players. I do agree with you however that having money makes it easier to cover the mistakes though. If you look at the Yankees and the Pavano mess however you will notice that the Yankees went several years without chasing any top of the line pitching talent. They used Mussina,Johnson and Clemens to try to cover their shortcomings and for a long time the Yanks biggest problem was pitching. It wasn’t until last year that our rotation truly got the help we had been needing for several years.
    The Blue Jays and J.P. Riccardi are another story entirely they bought up used or no good talent and wrote terrible contracts that have had them in trouble for years. They are beginning to get out from under the contracts but his reign is going to be felt for several more seasons. The new GM in Toronto is an improvement but I guess we will have to wait and see.

  20. basedrum777 - Dec 23, 2009 at 7:46 PM

    The analysis of ticket prices for the NYY is very good. I pay $12 a seat for two seats, same as last year and the year before. I don’t go to a game to eat but even if I did I can carry in a sub or Mcd’s (across the street) and the food inside is not that bad price wise with the food outside unless you want to get blitzed. Don’t blame the Yanx for running a successful business……

  21. Hi - Jan 31, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    Hi mate, when viewing at your blog i see some kind of weird codes all over the page, in case it’s important I just thought I’d let you know it says this with all sorts of other stuff after it: “Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent in wp-settings.php line 12”

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