I’ll leave this one to The Associated Press.
NEW YORK (AP) — 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.
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.”
To compute the payroll, Major League Baseball uses the average annual values of contracts for players on 40-man rosters and adds benefits. The Yankees failed to land free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee despite being given permission from ownership to make a $150 million, seven-year offer. Lee agreed to a $120 million, five-year deal with Philadelphia.
“We weren’t going to exceed where we were this past year, but the bottom line is that now that the Lee thing has declared itself, it would be hard-pressed for us to get up to that level,” Cashman said.
Some notes and links:
• A.J. Burnett is getting himself ready to work with Larry Rothschild next week in Maryland. Ken Davidoff reports that Rothschild is expected to visit Burnett for a week to 10 days. 
• In the notes of the Davidoff story is this quote from Cashman about why Joba Chamberlain is no longer considered a rotation option: “His stuff plays so much significantly (better) out of the ‘pen. We had given him an opportunity to pitch in the rotation, and the velocity dropped. It’s just not the same stuff.”
• Governor David Patterson has been charged $62,125 for his tickets to the 2009 World Series.  The charge includes the face value of the seats, plus fines.
• The Yankees aren’t the only ones finding the price of pitching a little extreme. The Mets are also waiting for the prices to drop. 
• Austin Kearns on his return to Cleveland:  “I enjoyed playing here. There are a lot of good guys on this team. Guys I’ve maintained relationships with. They have a lot of talented young guys on this team.”
• The Plain Dealer listed three right-handed outfield alternatives to Kearns. Two of them are familiar names: Shelley Duncan and Chad Huffman.
Associated Press photo