I have a lot of respect for Brian Cashman, and I think he’s tremendously under-appreciated as a GM. Under his watch, the Yankees went from an erratic money pit into a dominant machine, and he’s put processes in place to ensure that the team is permanently good. Everything I said about the Red Sox is also true about the Yankees now. They do everything well.
And, yes, they’re disgustingly rich. They outspent the #2 team in 2009 opening day payroll by $52 million. They outspent the Red Sox by $80 million, or, essentially, they spent as much on their 2009 team as the Boston and Milwaukee combined, and the Brewers have a league-average payroll. It’s just a monstrous advantage, and they take full advantage of it.
This isn’t to say that the Yankees haven’t earned their championships. The Mets have access to the same media market and spend money like drunken sailors, but they don’t win, because they’re not using their resources well. The Yankees are using their resources very well, and there is no reason to disrespect their accomplishments simply because they have access to more capital than every other MLB team.
But there’s a reason I said that the Red Sox were the model franchise for a big market team. The Yankees aren’t, because they don’t fit into that category. They’re a you-can’t-build-a-market-like-this team, and there’s no point for anyone trying to recreate what they’re doing, because it’s impossible. You can’t recreate 100 years of history. You can’t fix your organization’s past and make sure it includes Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra. The Yankees have a tie to the roots of the game itself that no other club ever will.
It’s not just the size of the Big Apple that gives the Yankees the advantage they enjoy. It’s their place in the history of the game, and how well they’ve leveraged that into developing a fan base that perpetuates itself constantly. The combination of the market, the nostalgia, and the winning have created a perfect storm, and the result is a franchise that towers over the rest. The Red Sox do everything right, and they still aren’t the Yankees. They can’t be. No one can.
We talk about dominant eras in sports history. The Brian Cashman-era Yankees are going to take their spot someday, because with the way the organization is structured, they’re going to be scary good for the foreseeable future. This is what happens when you spend $200 million really, really well.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.