Monday, October 19, 2009

State of MLB- Some Things Will Never Change

First of all, as always, I am enjoying the hell out of the MLB Playoffs. One of my favorite times of the year. However, even though I have enjoyed the Yankees comebacks and watching the Red Sox get swept and watching the Dodgers bullpen, even i have to admit, that it will always be this way. Nine times out of 10, the top dogs will win. The top dogs are the ones who spend the money.

Here’s a list of 2009 team player payrolls: (Numbers are before the season started and don't include payroll additions and in the Pirates case, subtractions)
2009 payroll
New York Yankees
New York Mets
Chicago Cubs
Boston Red Sox
Detroit Tigers
Los Angeles Angels
Philadelphia Phillies
Houston Astros
Los Angeles Dodgers
Seattle Mariners
Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox
San Francisco Giants
Cleveland Indians
Toronto Blue Jays
Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals
Colorado Rockies
Cincinnati Reds
Arizona Diamondbacks
Kansas City Royals
Texas Rangers
Baltimore Orioles
Minnesota Twins
Tampa Bay Rays
Oakland Athletics
Washington Nationals
Pittsburgh Pirates
San Diego Padres
Florida Marlins

Baseball's final four is again made up of the rich teams. All four teams still playing are in the top 9 in payroll. Sure, occasionally a team like the Rays can go on an improbable run to the World Series every once in a while, but often the case the big dogs make it.

So what do fans of the Bucs, or the Reds, Marlins, Nationals, etc. hope for? Who should they model them self after? Billy Beane's Oakland A's? Sure they have made some good deals and have made some post-season runs, but last time I checked, they haven't won anything. The Twins? Here is a good model for small market teams. They keep running young arms up to the big leagues. The win by playing Ron Gardenhire ball. the have no problem simply plugging players in for those that they lose and they continue to produce.

Eventually, I could see some similarities between what the Bucs are trying to do and what the Twins have done for the last decade. The difference though between the Bucs (and other small market teams) and the Twins is that the Twins have guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. So no matter the young guys they have to play, they still have two studs in the middle of their lineup. Maybe the Bucs could eventually get to that point with McCutchen, Alvarez, Tabata, etc., but the key to the Twins success is sustaining the pipeline of young talent to the majors. They continue to develop young players.

The most likely scenario for a team like the Bucs is the one the Rays just went through. Stockpile a boatload of young talent and when they are ready, get them to the big leagues all together and hopefully let them learn how to win together. The advantage the Bucs would have over the Rays is that they aren't in the AL East. However, they are still in a division that spends money- Cubs, Cards, Stros.

I still believe, that it can happen, but even I understand how difficult it will be, given baseball's current economic state. What can Bud Selig do to fix things? Salary cap. Although, no way that will ever happen. Union wouldn't let it, and if I'm a team like the Yanks, I don't want a salary cap. I don't hate the fact the Yanks have five times the payroll as the Bucs. It's actually nice to see an owner put the money back into the on field product. Even though 200mil is ridiculous, Yankees fans can never say that their management is not doing everything possible to try and win. I'm not saying the Bucs have to go out and spend 200 mil, but facts are facts and the teams that spend the money necessary to put a real product on the field, generally have the best success.

The one thing I'm truly tired of though is Bud Selig's constant plea of parity in the game. What a crock of shit to feed the fans. Just because the Rays made it to the World Series last year doesn't mean there is parity in the game. Some teams still have zero chance of even competing next season. Some type of balance has to be met. I give Selig some credit. Revenue sharing has worked, but it is up to the teams to put the money back into the on field product. Now the Bucs needed an overhaul of their farm system so I will cut them a break this time around. Soon though, they are going to have to spend to compete. There is still no reason that the Brewers should have nearly double the payroll of the Pirates.

Even though there is reason to get excited about the young talent that is on the way, until the decide to compete with other teams economically, the Pirates are very unlikely to compete with them on the field.

Here is a good article by Joe Starkey to check out as well


  1. good post. i agree that eventually you have to spend. one way to fix things is to have not a hard cap but the kind of cap that has a minimum and maximum that teams must spend. say 150 mil max, which would stop the yanks some and say 75 mil minimum which would make teams spend cah on the major league product.

  2. i like your thought process, but something like that would never work. yes, the big teams wouldn't be able to spend 200mil, but your small market teams would suffer more.

    Teams like the Bucs would have to start paying journeymen 6-7 mil just to reach the minimum.

    Add to that it would take away from the farm system to a point where small market teams wouldn't be able to bring players up becuase they would have to keep salary on the roster

    good thought but it wouldn't work

  3. matt

    good article again. keep writing more. to the guy above, that definitely wouldnt work. do you want to eventually see alvarez, lincoln, tabata etc.


    do you want them to go through burnitz, randa, laroche and more bums all over again?

  4. Success is not measured by a half-earned, half-fluke appearance in the post season.
    Success should be measured by a period of time that a team consistently makes the playoffs. That being said, I don't see the Rays in the playoffs this year. Nor do I see the A's or the Cleveland Indians. This isn't a model for the Pirates to attempt to duplicate, rather this should be enough evidence to Bud Selig and his MLB flunkies in New York that there are a lot of imperfections the economic structure that limit how much a small market team can achieve.
    Do they see it? Probably. Will they do anything about it? Almost certainly, no.
    MLB makes money from the large market teams being in the playoffs and that's what it's all about. Free agents are not interested in going to small market teams because of endorsement money and fame.
    I don't see the Bucs making all the necessary moves anyway. Sure, they have improved their farm system and they certianly (and justifiably) blew up the team but that's not all it takes.
    We need a long-term commitment from Nutting and that hasn't happened. At no time has he expressed a monetary commitment to spend whatever it takes to build a long term winner.
    And their reluctance to admit that JR "Mr. Mumbles" is a complete failure concerns me to no end.

  5. The difference between my Reds (and your Pirates) and the Yankees? The Reds make one financial mistake, and it sets them back for years. The Yankees strike out with a Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano, and they are like "whatever"

    Of course, there are other differences, but this is one of them. The contracts of Wily Tavares for the Reds is killing that team, as is the contract of Francisco Cordero (though at least he is producing).

    Just gotta hope one of our teams catches that "lightning in a bottle" one of these years, spend some money to fill the holes, and spend it wisely.

  6. Good Comments and I agree with all of you guys. One thing to be careful of is just spending money to spend money. We have seen it before.

    if you spend money on crap, then you are going to get crap for your dollars. One thing a team like the Pirates can't afford is bad contracts. look how long it took them to get from under the Kendall deal.

    In the Bucs case, the right thing to do is identify what youngsters you are going to build around and then fill in the holes. If you have to overpay for some players well then do it. This ownership group has been frugal for too long.

    I've always said that this franchise won't turn the corner until 1 marquis guy says "Pittsburgh is where I want to sign"

    If the opportunity is there to help the team turn the corner then yes, go for it. But we know they won't pursue a Matt Holliday type of player so basically then they are rolling the dice on whoever they will sign.

    If it comes down to signing a guy just for the sake of signing a guy to make it look like they are trying to improve the club, well then I say wait a year. 2011 is my goal to start winning anyways.

  7. spending doesnt always win. look at the orioles fo the last decade. look at last yr. clev 81 mil. the god awful reds 73 mil. the joke of a franchise royals spent 70 mil. i mean would you believe kc spent 70 mil

  8. i dont believe that is what everyone is saying. the post want necessarily about the pirates having to spend money next season. it would be nice but it was more about the imbalance between baseball's "haves" and "have nots"

    An example was the Rockies, who were the playoff team with the lowest payroll. They still spent 75 mil. yet they still have young talent.

    I agree with Bill that Nutting will have to commit to spending. Add experienced talent to the young talent coming up. I just don't see that happening.

  9. good topic to discuss and i agree with bits and pieces from everyone so far.

    First of all as a Pirates fan I don't think the salary thing is totally broke. Could be tweaked though. Look i hate seeing the Yanks spend 200mil, but any team could do that. Give them and other teams credit for putting the money back into the team. 200 mil is a bit excessive, but it goes right back to the on field product.

    The Bucs make money and could put some of it back into the on field product, but they choose not to. If numnuts (Nutting) would have sold the team to Mark Cuban then we would have an owner that would spend money.

    Blame the owner not the system.

  10. next is where I blame Bud Selig and MLB. i think someone touched on why elite free agents sign with big market teams (exposure, endorsements, etc.)

    That is partially baseballs fault. Everytime the red sox-yanks play, they are on national tv. When is the last time the Pirates have been on Fox Saturday baseball? Answer is a few years ago when they played in New York. Only because it was Roger Clemens comeback start.

    When is the last time the Bucs have been on an ESPN game. Hell, it can't be within the last 5 years. MLB chooses to advertise some teams and not the others. In the NBA & NHL, every team is on national TV atleast once a season. In the NFL teams are seen throughout the country. In MLB, it's the same 8-10 teams all the time. It's who THEY want to give exposure to.

    Of course no free agent is going to sign to a team where it is impossible to be seen by the rest of the country.

  11. you raise a good point about exposure, but the reaon the red sox- yanks are on tv all the time is that people want to watch that. it's mlb's highest ratings of the season. tv is like all other business. the goal is making money

  12. ok i will give you that, but why cant mlb put the bucs on a sunday night espn game vs a big market team like phillies, mets or dodgers. it would still draw ratings

  13. very simple answer guys and keep the discussion going. good topic. the networks, in this case fox and espn air the teams they want. mlb has very little input in this.

    espn looks at the schedule when it's released and then chhoses what game to air. same with fox.

    There are certian mlb restrictions to follow but usually it is the networks that decise who is on tv

  14. it cant be that hard to show everyone on national tv atleast once. everyone else does it in sports.

    just a case of bud just woorrying about his dollars and not caring that 10 teams in the league simply cant compete with the big teams in the current structue

  15. espn would be foolish on a sunday night to bump cards-cubs, dodgers-giants or yanks-sox to show pirates-mets.

    the other games are worth people around the country to watch. that is what the networks want. someone in iowa is more likely to watch a good matchup than a bad pirates team

  16. The networks control everything in every sport. it's big money and it's all about the money

  17. as much as i hate to say it, we are a laughing stock and laughing stocks don't get coverage. There is only one way to get national attention and that is start winning.

    And we aren't going to start winning until Nutting commits to it. everyone else in the organization is committed to winning in the future except nutting.

  18. what's sad is no one is expecting Nutting to shell out 100mil in payroll. Just make a commitment and go out and improve the ball club

  19. i still feel the rebuilding has to continue through next season, before he opens the wallet. They aren't ready just yet. Unless Nut-job can add a marquis player, which obviously he can't.

    I agree with what you said before me though. It would be nice to see a commitment from Nut-job. Eventually when the young guys are ready, there are still going to be holes to fill.

    My fear is that Nut-job isn't commited to this and won't try to improve the team. Again i'm looking at 2011, not 2010

  20. they can first start to make a commitment to winning by not letting guys get away. The true test on how committed Nutting is wont come for 5 or 6 years.

    We will see what they do when Cutch, Alvarez, Tabata, Lincoln, etc. will eventually become free agents. They better not let one single one walk. or they better not deal one of those guys.

    if they do, then they will become a fraud and should lose their entire fan base

  21. this is a great discussion for the offseason, but it feels like a waste of breath. i have gotten my hopes up too many times. To actually think they would commit to winning now is not only foolish on my part, but all of you and everyone else as well

  22. since we are talking about mlb making things right for small market teams. how about instituting a world wide draft? so that these latin players like mateo and sano aren't able to sign with any big market team they choose.