Attanasio Against the Yankees
As every Brewers fan knows, Milwaukee is a small market compared to other teams in Major League Baseball. Due to the lack of a salary cap in baseball the market size becomes the biggest factor of how much a team can or cannot spend. No set restrictions by league offices leave the payrolls open to however much each owner wants. This creates a vast discrepancy between the highest (Yankees - $206,333,389) and the lowest (Pirates - $ 34,943,000), with everything in between varying greatly.
The Brewers enter the 2010 season with the 18th highest payroll at $81,108,278. That’s more than 125 million less than the Yankees. Adding the Brewers payroll to Detroit’s 6th highest payroll still falls short of the Yankees. This has been frustrating to the fans for many years, and that frustration might now be getting to owner Mark Attanasio too. In a recent USA Today article Attanasio said, "We're struggling to sign (first baseman Prince Fielder), and the Yankees infield is making more than our team."
That was a completely true and seemingly harmless statement, but it caused Yankee’s president Randy Levine to respond with, "I'm sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running the Brewers. We play by all the rules and there doesn't seem to be any complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years. Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your players.” The personal attack was uncalled for, but what he said has at least some truth to it. Revenue sharing has forced the Yankees to contribute $175,000,000 over the years. However that money goes into a pot along with what was collected from other organizations which is then divided among the clubs based on need. Obviously that’s a far cry from giving hundreds of millions to the Brewers, when they haven’t even given hundreds of millions to revenue sharing overall. Levine telling Attanasio to “sign your players” with the money the Yankees give him is ridiculous. With what the Brewers get directly from the Yankees in revenue sharing they might be able to get a below average relief pitcher – not quite what Mark was talking about.
The Brewers watched as the Yankees blew their offer for CC Sabathia out of the water, and now are concerned the same thing will happen with Prince Fielder. If it were to happen with Fielder it’d hurt quite a bit more as he is a home grown player brought up through the Brewers farm system. Building from within is the reason for the recent success of the Brewers. It’s unfortunate that they’ll lose that as soon as arbitration is up and have to start over.
The difference in spending is something that needs to be readdressed in Major League Baseball. Revenue sharing is better than nothing, but it still isn’t cutting it. Baseball is stuck in its ways and won’t be willing to change anytime soon, but the more it gets brought up the closer it’ll get. Media and fan objections alone will get no where, but public outcries by people involved with the league could slowly get it started. Attanasio should be applauded for his comments, no matter how small of an immediate impact it’ll have. Getting other small market owners to follow is the next step.