Ken Davidoff's baseball insider

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The commitments - and there's a live chat today

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The idea for this blog entry was born when I read Joel Sherman's column on Feb. 22. This paragraph stood out to me:

Also, the Yanks can brag about having a lower payroll in 2009 than 2008, but they already have a payroll of $133.1 million in 2011 with just nine players signed, none of them named Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera. So, yes, the Yanks are better in 2009 because they signed Burnett, Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia, but what they have assured of recreating in the near future is an expensive, inflexible, aging team.

That triggered a recall of this line from "Heat":

Neil McCauley: A guy told me one time, "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner."

Now, I'll grant you, comparing a baseball team to a criminal perpetually on the run is a bit extreme. But there is something to be said for traveling light. And as we've noted here in the past, traveling light is something the Yankees do particularly poorly.

Yet it's a fine line. After all, you want to have players who are so good that you want to commit to a long-term relationship. to them. However, you don't want to commit to too many, because so many ultimately don't live up to their billing.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts, I researched the money that each team has guaranteed for its 2012 roster. Why 2012? Because anyone getting paid for 2012 has at least a four-year deal, and we seem to enter that "Wow!" zone when we leap from three-year contracts to those of four years or longer. Also, because the current collective-bargaining agreement concludes after the 2011 season, so we don't know what sort of luxury tax-revenue sharing-salary cap issues will be in play in '12.

I didn't count team options, since I'm counting only guaranteed dollars, and I didn't count the buyouts for '12, since I wanted to view this through a roster-flexibility prism. Once a player gets his buyout after the '11 season, his old team is done with him. I did count player options, since the team has guaranteed that money and can't control it.

Here are the committed dollars for 2012:

1. Yankees – Alex Rodriguez ($29 million). CC Sabathia ($23 million, opt-out after ’11). Mark Teixeira ($22.5 million) A.J. Burnett ($16.5 million). Total: $91 million.

2. Cubs - Carlos Zambrano ($18 million). Alfonso Soriano ($18 million). Ryan Dempster ($14 million player option). Total: $50 million.

3. Mets - Johan Santana ($24 million). David Wright ($15 million). Total: $39 million.

4. Blue Jays - Vernon Wells ($21 million). Alex Rios ($12 million). Total: $33 million.

5. (tie) Giants - Barry Zito ($19 million). Aaron Rowand ($12 million). Total: $31 million.

5. (tie) Tigers – Miguel Cabrera ($21 million). Curtis Granderson ($10 million). Total: $31 million.

7. Red Sox – Kevin Youkilis ($12 million). Daisuke Matsuzaka ($10 million). Dustin Pedroia ($8 million). Total: $30 million.

8. Angels - Torii Hunter ($18 million). Ervin Santana ($11.2 million). Total: $29.2 million

9. Braves - Derek Lowe ($15 million). Brian McCann ($8.5 million). Total: $23.5 million.

10. Rangers – Michael Young ($16 million, some deferred). Ian Kinsler ($7 million). Total: $23 million, with some deferred.

11. Orioles - Nick Markakis ($12 million). Brian Roberts ($10 million). Total: $22 million.

12. Diamondbacks - Dan Haren ($12.75 million). Chris Young ($7 million). Total: $19.75 million.

13. Astros - Carlos Lee ($18.5 million). Total: $18.5 million.

14. (tie) Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki ($17 million). Total: $17 million.

14 (tie). Padres - Jake Peavy ($17 million). Total: $17 million.

16. (tie) Marlins - Hanley Ramirez ($15 million). Total: $15 million.

16 (tie). Phillies – Chase Utley ($15 million). Total: $15 million.

18. Twins – Justin Morneau ($14 million). Total: $14 million.

19. Royals – Zack Greinke ($13.5 million). Total: $13.5 million.

20. Indians - Travis Hafner ($13 million). Total: $13 million.

21. Rockies – Troy Tulowitzki ($8.5 million). Ubaldo Jimenez ($4.2 million). Total: $12.7 million.

22. Cardinals - Kyle Lohse ($11.875 million). Total: $11.875 million.

23. (tie) Brewers - Ryan Braun ($6 million). Total: $6 million.

23. (tie) Rays – Evan Longoria ($4.5 million). David Price ($1.5 million). Total: $6 million.

25. White Sox – Dayan Viciedo ($2.5 million). Total: $2.5 million.

26. Reds – Yonder Alonso ($1 million). Total: $1 million.

27. Pirates – Pedro Alvarez ($700,000). Total: $700,000.

The Dodgers, A's and Nationals tied for last, with $0 committed.

Quick takes:

  • It's amazing that the Yankees are already at nearly $100 million just from four players, and I'd contend that only one, Teixeira, is a really solid investment, given pitchers' vulnerabiliites and the fact that A-Rod will be a 37-year-old third baseman that year with who-knows-what going on in his life .

  • It's equally amazing that the Rays have committed just $6 million to two of the most exciting young players in the game.

  • How about the Red Sox having less invested in more players than the Blue Jays?

  • How about the Cubs, seriously overspending?

  • I've praised Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro plenty here, but his long-term investment in Hafner hasn't looked very good the last couple of years.

  • The Dodgers under Frank McCourt and Ned Colletti have lived by the philosophy of not committing long-term dollars (with one horrendous exception), and that does serve them well, when they're able to infuse the club with young talent. If they can get Manny Ramirez signed for two years, or even three, then they'll make themselves strong contenders for '09 without impacting their place on this list.

    It's a fun tool. And it'll be interesting to see how good or bad each team's '12 ledger looks, as the '09 season progresses.

  • David Lennon, with no Mets action to cover, headed to Jupiter to keep tabs on A-Rod for a day. Neither Lennon nor A-Rod disapppointed us.

    Dave also checked in with Pedro Martinez. One appealing aspect of the WBC this time is that Pedro and Ivan Rodriguez intend to use it as a showcase that they can still play. As the busy Lennon writes, the Mets still have some interest in Pudge.

  • Interesting column by Harvey Araton of the New York Times, who explores the fallout from Sports Illustrated's A-Rod story. I agree with Harvey that SI's report was extremely worthwhile, but I feel even more strongly that people are entitled to disagree with Harvey and me on that notion. By all means, journalists should be open to the same scrutiny as the subjects of their reporting.

    Does that mean it's open season on Selena Roberts? No. A-Rod made some ridiculous accusations against Roberts, and he was called out on them. But IMO, discussions about right to privacy, the news value of a positive drug test and a journalist's professional history are all healthy discussions. Just as was the case when Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams disclosed grand jury testimonies for the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • Live chat at 1 today. Be there or be square.

  • Thanks to ESPN.com for the head shots.

    Tags: yankees , red sox , rays , blue jays , orioles , indians , tigers , royals , twins , white sox , a's , angels , rangers , mariners , mets , phillies , nationals , braves , marlins , cubs , astros , cardinals , reds , pirates , brewers , dodgers , giants , diamondbacks , rockies , padres , cc sabathia , alex rodriguez , mark teixeira , a.j. burnett , johan santana , david wright , ryan dempster , alfonso soriano , carlos zambrano , kevin youkilis , dustin pedroia , daisuke matsuzaka , david price , evan longoria , travis hafner , vernon wells , alex rios , pedro alvarez , pedro martinez , ivan rodriguez , david lennon , harvey araton , selena roberts , heat , neil mccauley , nick markakis , brian roberts , miguel cabrera , curtis granderson , justin morneau , zack greinke , michael young , ian kinsler , ichiro suzuki , ervin santana , torii hunter , chase utley , derek lowe , brian mccann , hanley ramirez , carlos lee , kyle lohse , ryan braun , dan haren , chris young , jake peavy , barry zito , aaron rowand , ubaldo jimenez

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