Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Lazy Sunday

Coming to you live from the satellite office in Milwaukee (where it seems that Miller Lite flows from the faucets)…albeit late, on a day when it was confirmed that there will be no NFL playoff berth under any trees on the North Coast, it is time for Lazy Sunday:

Very little of substance in the local papers outside of Terry Pluto rehashing what was written here last week about Cliff Lee being a desirable commodity on the trade market with the deals that the likes of Carlos Silva and Dontrelle Willis (without having thrown a pitch in the AL and struggling for two seasons in the NL) just inked.

Outside of Terry, some tremendous stuff from ESPN’s Jayson Stark in terms of a few items that affect the Indians, Detroit’s window of opportunity, and how baseball (flush with cash) will see the payrolls affected by unprecedented revenue. He starts out with how the Tigers’ off-season moves affect the Indians (with some Shapiro quotes thrown in for good measure):

At least the Cleveland Indians are already a playoff team. You might even recall they were one win away from ousting the Red Sox from the postseason just a couple of months ago. But they also play in the same division as those upwardly mobile Tigers. So does this team feel pressured to counter every big move with one of its own?
"Absolutely not," Indians GM Mark Shapiro said. "It would be a lie to say it doesn't affect you emotionally. But you've got to distance yourself from that as quickly as you can. If you try to build your club to beat one team, or measure yourself against one team, you make emotional decisions, and they usually end up being mistakes."
The Indians' payroll barely topped $60 million in 2007. The Tigers' payroll will be double that in 2008. The Yankees' payroll might quadruple that. So the Indians know exactly what they're up against. But they also understand they have to operate in their universe, not anyone else's.
"We need to focus on making our team as good as it can possibly be," Shapiro said. "We ask ourselves: 'How can we find ways to score more runs or prevent more?' The only question we ask is: 'What decisions can we make to improve our run differential?,' not 'Will it be enough to beat one team or counter the moves they made?'"
The only good news for the Indians is, they don't have to play in the AL East. So at least they don't have to play nearly 25 percent of their schedule just against the Red Sox and Yankees. Not that the Tigers are exactly the Joliet Jackhammers. But at least the Indians can finish behind the Tigers and still make the playoffs.

Speaking of the Tigers, Stark had this to say about the 2008 season in Motown (again, with an AL Executive’s thoughts thrown in to further the legitimacy of the assertion):

True, the Tigers will run a lineup out there in which seven of the nine everyday players have made at least one All-Star team since 2005. But they also have a roster full of players with injury histories. So after dealing away seven of their best prospects this winter, they need to stay healthy, because they're short of reinforcements they can call up. "They've pretty much decimated their depth," one AL executive said. "So this is their window."

Finally, Stark addresses the trend of “skyrocketing” payrolls and whether they truly are leaping over new hurdles or if they are simply a by-product of the game being flush with cash:

As recently as 2003, a $120 million payroll was unheard of, for any team but the Yankees. This year, the buzz is that at least seven teams -- and possibly as many as nine -- could top $120 million. The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Mets, Cubs and Tigers are all projecting payrolls around that figure or higher. And the Mariners and White Sox could wind up in that zone with the right free-agent signing (or two).

So what are the luxury-tax ramifications of that? Zilch. The threshold for 2008 will inflate to $155 million (and probably affect only the Yankees and Red Sox). From there, the threshold zooms to $162M, $170M and $178M the following three years.

"A 100 million payroll used to be a huge payroll," one GM said. "But there's so much money in the game, within two years, that's going to be the average payroll."

How does news like that impact the negotiations with C.C. and how have the Indians projected out their revenue to possibly offer the Hefty Lefty a king’s ransom without compromising their long-stated desire to avoid unnecessarily long contracts (6th or 7th year guaranteed) for starting pitchers?
It shall be interesting to see going forward as Spring Training and Opening Day approach.

I should be able to pound out a long-overdue piece on 2008 projections for the Tribe, though not likely prior to Jesus’ birthday.
Until then, Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night.

1 comment:

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