Baseball Thinking

Monday, May 15, 2006

Does 120 Million Pay for Mediocrity?

Since the start of the 2000 season, the New York Yankees have spent 1.07 billion dollars on their players. Think about that. That is in the billions, not millions. The figure doesn’t include the tax penalties, but does include, however, the 2006 season. Even one billion dollars (think of Austin Powers with his pinky finger in the corner of his mouth) can’t buy a Major League Baseball championship.
That brings us to the 2006 edition of the Boston Red Sox. While the combined salaries have decreased over the past two years after reaching a high of 127 million in 2004, the Red Sox have remained competitive, winning almost the same amount of games in 2005 (95) as the Cleveland Indians (93), although the Indians had less than 1/3 the salary ($41,000,000) the Red Sox had. Does 120 million (current payroll) buy a mediocre team?
As of this writing, the Sox were tied for 1st in the AL East with the Yankees, one game ahead of the surging Toronto Blue Jays ($71,000,000). They have the 3rd best record in the AL behind Chicago ($102,000,000) and Detroit ($82,000,000), just ahead of Texas ($68,000,000). They currently stand 6th in Major League Baseball, behind the upstart Cincinati Reds ($60,000,000) and the St. Louis Cardinals ($88,000,000). So with the second highest payroll in MLB, the Sox currently have the 6th best team. Shouldn’t this type of cake buy a better team, such as the number one team?
The Red Sox started off their first week in fine fashion, establishing the early AL East lead with a 6-1 record. Since then, they are barely above being a .500 team, going 15-13. Shouldn’t that kind of cake buy a team better than .500? I love cake, by the way.
Long gone are the high scoring Sox from the previous 3 years, when they were near or at the top of most offensive categories. They are now a middle of the road offense who can’t hit in the clutch. The Sox are 19th in MLB with runners in scoring position and 21st in batting with the bases loaded. One hundred and twenty million clams doesn’t buy clutch, I guess. All this displays is mediocrity.
The current edition of Red Sox Nation is based on pitching and defense. As advertised, the defense has been spectacular, ranking first in MLB. The pitching has been decent, but they have similar stats the 2005 team had during the same time period last year. Again, middle of the road, nothing spectacular, and certainly not worth $42,000,000 that has been spent on 12 arms. The Seattle Mariners ($87,000,000) and Oakland Athletics (62,000,000) have similar pitching records with less payroll commitments.
So where does that leave us? To date, we love our one hundred twenty million dollar team that is playing .500 ball. Is it true that only mediocrity can be purchased for such a large amount of money? Or is it money unwisely spent. The remaining 75% of the season should answer these questions. Stay tuned, Red Sox Nation.

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