Yankees lowered spending, still hit with $18 million luxury tax
The New York Yankees lowered spending on players by $12 million this year, cutting payroll by $5 million and slashing their major league-leading luxury tax by more than $7 million. New York was hit with an $18 million luxury tax Tuesday by Major League Baseball. The tax was New York's lowest since 2003 and down from $25.7 million last year, when the Yankees won the World Series.
"Atta baby. And right now we're in the $170s," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said, looking ahead to his 2011 payroll.
Season-ending payroll information and the tax was sent to teams Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press.
Boston is the only other team that will have to pay. The Red Sox, who missed the playoffs this year, exceeded the payroll threshold for the first time since 2007 and owe $1.49 million. According to the collective bargaining agreement, the Yankees and Red Sox must send checks to the commissioner's office by Jan. 31.
Since the current tax began in 2003, the Yankees have run up a bill of $192.2 million. The only other teams to pay are Boston ($15.34 million), Detroit ($1.3 million) and the Los Angeles Angels ($927,000). New York's payroll was $215.1 million for the purpose of the luxury tax, down from $226.2 million, and the Yankees pay at a 40 percent rate for the amount over the threshold, which rose from $162 million to $170 million. Boston's luxury-tax payroll was $176.6 million, and the Red Sox pay at a 22.5 percent rate.
"We're doing a better job of managing our payroll and managing our decision-making as we enter the free-agent market," Cashman said. "Our payroll doesn't necessarily have to live at that level, but it's nice to know that our owners are committed to allow us to get there if we need to."
Boston's payroll rose by $30.2 million to $170.7 million. The $44.4 million between the Yankees and Red Sox was larger than the payrolls of San Diego ($43.7 million) and Pittsburgh ($44.1 million).
After moving into Target Field, Minnesota's payroll also went up by $30 million, leaving the Twins 10th in the majors at $103 million. Cincinnati increased its payroll by $9.8 million to $82.5 million.
■ The Mariners traded catcher Rob Johnson to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Johnson was Seattle's opening day starter behind the plate in 2010 but his struggles at the plate eventually led to his demotion to Triple-A Tacoma. Johnson, 28, played in 61 games last season with Seattle, but hit just .191. He also struggled with an American League-high nine passed balls in less than a half-season.
■ Rich Harden is rejoining his first major-league team. The right-hander and the Athletics finalized a $1.5 million, one-year contract after he passed a physical. Harden went 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA last season for the AL champion Texas Rangers.
Linares to return as Legends manager
The Houston Astros announced that Rodney Linares, who managed the Lexington Legends last season, will return for the 2011 season. He'll be joined by hitting coach Joel Chimelis, pitching coach Dave Borkowski and trainer Grant Hufford. Former Legends pitching coach Charley Taylor rejoined the Astros' minor-league staff in a full-time position after missing most of the last two seasons while fighting cancer. Taylor's health has improved significantly, and he will work with the Astros' Gulf Coast League team as well as other Astros' minor-league pitchers. Taylor served as the Legends' pitching coach from 2001 through 2008.
Orton says he needs knee surgery
Orlando Magic rookie Daniel Orton told the Orlando Sentinel before Tuesday's game against the Dallas Mavericks that he likely will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee within the next week to repair cartilage damage. Orton, who played one season at the University of Kentucky, originally injured the knee in high school and hurt it again during a recent NBA Development League stint. He said he's been told he'll probably be out until the All-Star break in mid-February.
■ Caron Butler scored 20 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 17 and the Mavericks became the latest team to topple the reconstructed Magic in a 105-99 road victory. Tyson Chandler added 16 points to help the Mavericks pull away in the fourth quarter for their 16th win in 17 games. A night after winning at Miami, they shot 50 percent from the floor, including 46 percent from three-point range. The Magic again looked like a team that hasn't had time to hold a practice since newcomers Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu were acquired on Saturday. They've lost the first two games since the pair of blockbuster trades and dropped eight of their last nine. The latest came on another monster night for Dwight Howard, who had 26 points and 23 rebounds but got no help.
■ Kevin Durant scored 32 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a poor shooting night by dominating the fourth quarter in a 99-81 road victory over the reeling Charlotte Bobcats. The Thunder quickly erased a 69-68 deficit entering the final period with a 25-3 run full of dunks and transition buckets off Charlotte turnovers. The Bobcats missed their first 11 shots, threw the ball away five times and didn't get their first field goal of the quarter until 2:52 remained, producing sarcastic cheers.
■ Derrick Rose and Luol Deng each scored 22 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 121-76 for their eighth win in nine games. Chicago dominated nearly every offensive category and recorded its most lopsided win of the season. Rose also had 12 assists for his seventh double-double, while Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Kurt Thomas added 12 points.
Promoter: Pacquiao to fight Mosley
Manny Pacquiao plans to fight Sugar Shane Mosley in his next bout May 7 in Las Vegas. Promoter Bob Arum said that the deal will be done after Mosley's lawyers approve the final paperwork for the welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Arum said Pacquiao chose the bout because Mosley is the most accomplished and famous boxer in the field of candidates, which included Juan Manuel Marquez and welterweight champion Andre Berto. Arum said he realizes he could have trouble selling a fight against a nearly 40-year-old opponent who will be nearly 2½ years removed from his last victory when he faces Pacquiao, but he said Mosley's skill and speed will challenge Pacquiao. Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) is on top of the boxing world after trouncing Antonio Margarito in a one-sided decision in Texas on Nov. 13.
■ Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to open a two-match exhibition series for charity between the world's top-ranked tennis players. Federer sealed victory on Nadal's serve with a backhand crosscourt return in front of 10,000 fans at sold-out Hallenstadion indoor arena in Zurich. This was the first time they have played each other in Federer's home country. The rivals will be in Madrid on Wednesday for a return match in the top-ranked Nadal's home country.
■ The Jordan Brand Classic high school basketball All-Star games are moving to Michael Jordan's arena. Sponsor Nike announced that the event scheduled for April 16 will shift from Madison Square Garden in New York to Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena. The facility is home to and managed by the Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats.
The last word
Donovan McNabb felt disrespected by the way he was benched by Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan. McNabb told ESPN he strongly disagreed with the decision, but he has a bigger problem with the way he says the organization leaked the news to the media before informing him:
"Everything was handled awkwardly, somewhat to a disrespect to me and to the team. ... The way this whole thing went down to me was 'off' and one that I strongly disagree with, because I've always believed that if you start something you finish it. I wanted to be out there with the team."