My high school debate coach used to say, “Whether you’re rich or poor, it’s good to have money.”

    Photo: Steve Mancuso

Over the last decade, the New York Yankees spent $1.3 billion (billion!) more on player payroll than the Cincinnati Reds. That affords them five extra Joey Vottos (fully priced @ $25m/year) in pinstripes every year.

Defenders of MLB’s financial structure – a group comprised largely of Yankees fans, private equity buyout specialists (note the overlap) and Bud Selig – will make the misleading argument that this spending has bought brought only one World Series championship to the Bronx in the last ten years. They ask disingenuously, how unfair could the current system be?

Extremely unfair. The gross inequity is disguised by a post-season format that poorly rewards the best teams. Joe Posnanski has explained how short playoff series tend to randomize the World Series outcome, and how this structure hides the impact of payroll inequities. To win the World Series, it turns out the most important factor is reaching the playoffs.

So, back to that $1.3 billion question … how unfair?

The New York Yankees have made the playoffs 16 of the past 17 years, winning five World Series over that time. My debate coach was right. She usually was.


This weekend, your Cincinnati Reds (19-18) take on the fourth-place New York Yankees (20-18) in Yankee Stadium, Friday (7:05), Saturday (1:05) and Sunday (1:05). The Reds play for the first time in the House Next Door to the House That Ruth Built.

The aging Yankees stagger home from a two-game bloodbath in Toronto. They were held to two runs and eight hits by Blue Jay future Hall of Famers Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchinson, while being outscored 12-2.

As always, the Yankee line-up is loaded with All-stars. But human ACLs, MCLs, obliques, shoulders and elbows have taken a toll on their roster, particularly their bullpen.

My little town blues may be melting away.

Plus, with interleague play starting, Dusty Baker can add sluggers Ryan Ludwick (.183/.280/.329) or Mike Leake (.333/.333/.333) to the line-up. The Reds are 5-4 all-time against the Yankees in interleague play. And don’t forget a certain four-game sweep in the 1976 World Series.


Kinda hard to take your eyes off the Sunday matchup.

(Reminder: FIP stands for ‘fielding independent pitching’ and is a measure of what an ERA would look like assuming a normal outcome for balls put in play. It is regarded by many in the advanced-metrics world as a better predictor of future ERA.)

The Yankees pitching staff ranks second in K/9 (Reds are 10th) and 14th in BB/9 (Reds 8th). The Yankees’ ERA and FIP are in the bottom half of the league (Reds in the top ten). The Reds have an edge overall in pitching, although take into account the Yankee pitchers have competed against line-ups with designated hitters, not pitchers.

39-year-old Andy Pettitte faces the Reds tonight in his second start. He spent the 2011 season in retirement and preparing to testify in the perjury trial of his former teammate, which he did last week. In Pettitte’s first start, a loss to the Seattle Mariners, he gave up four ER in 6.1 innings. Ivan Nova (25) sprained his ankle in his last start against the Baltimore Orioles and there was a question whether he would pitch against the Reds, but as of now he’s listed as the probable starter. On Sunday, Carsten Charles Sabathia (31) will face the Reds. His five-start winning streak was snapped Tuesday night by the Orioles in a game where Sabathia gave up four ER.


1. Derek Jeter (R) SS – $15.7 million                             1. Zack Cozart (R) SS – $480,000
2. Curtis Granderson (L) CF – $10 million                      2. Drew Stubbs (R) CF – $527,000
3. Alex Rodriguez (R) 3B – $30 million                           3. Joey Votto (L) 1B – $11.4 million
4. Robinson Cano (L) 2B – $14 million                            4. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B – $12.5 million
5. Mark Teixeira (S) 1B – $23.1 million                          5. Jay Bruce (L) RF – $5 million
6. Nick Swisher (S) RF – $10.2 million                            6. Chris Heisey (R) LF – $495,000
7. Raul Ibanez (L) LF – $1.1 million                                 7. Todd Frazier (R) LF – $480,000
8. Eric Chavez (L) DH – $900,000                                   8. Ryan Ludwick (R) DH – $2 million
9. Russell Martin (R) C – $7.5 million                             9. Ryan Hanigan (R) C – $1.3 million

The Yankees are eighth in MLB in runs scored (Reds are 20th) and fourth in on-base-percentage (Reds 27th!). The Bronx Bombers are second in home runs, trailing only Josh Hamilton.

Captain Derek Jeter, leads the team in AVG (.363) and OBP (.409). Curtis Granderson leads in home runs (13) and Nick Swisher leads in RBI (26). 37-year-old Alex Rodriguez is the only Yankee with more than 2 stolen bases (he has four), so they aren’t a big threat to run. Second baseman, Robinson Cano, who was named after Jackie Robinson, has heated up recently.

The Yankees infield is full of Gold Glove winners: Jeter (5), Teixera (4), ARod (2, at SS), Cano (1) and DH Eric Chavez won six times at third base, most recently in 2006. The Yankees best defensive OF, Brett Gardner, is on the disabled list.


One area where the Reds appear to have a decided advantage over the Yankees is the bullpen. Two weeks ago, not so much. Then, tragically, this happened to the greatest closer of all time. And then this.

Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera, was injured shagging fly balls before a game and is now out for the season. A week later, David Robertson, who is one of the best set-up relievers in MLB and slated to take Rivera’s place, landed on the DL with an oblique strain. Lucky for the Yankees, they pay $12 million/year to Rafael Soriano, formerly a successful closer for the Tampa Bay Rays who had been relegated to pitching the 7th inning for the Yankees. He’s their closer now. (Remember that thing about how it’s good to have money.) After Soriano, New York’s bullpen quality drops off. So getting to the bullpen early is extra important in this series.

Start spreadin’ the news.


  • Hiroki Kuroda – SP signed for one year, $10 million
  • Raul Ibanez – LF Signed for one year, $1.1 million.
  • Michael Pineda – SP acquired in trade from the Mariners for DH/C Jesus Montero and SP Hector Noesi.


  • Mo Rivera – Best closer of all time, out for the year, torn ACL.
  • David Robertson – Rivera’s replacer, stud set-up reliever, 15-day DL with oblique strain
  • David Aardsma – Reliever, 60-day DL with Tommy John surgery
  • Joba Chamberlain – Reliever, 60-day DL with MCL surgery
  • Michael Pineda – Starting pitcher, out all year with labrum surgery
  • Brett Gardner – Starting LF, 15-day DL with right elbow injury