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High payrolls win again


GuidoSarducci

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Yes, the high payroll teams have once again proven they can win 3 games out of 5 against some of the lowest payrolls in baseball, including the three lowest payrolls in baseball besides Miami and Houston, all three of whom failed to win 50 games and were simply given playoff spots out of charity.

I mean, I agree, I hate the disparity and it's totally unfair. But it's three games. This is silly.

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I was going to post a thread about this with a little more research. The long and short of is, anyone can get to the playoffs, but if you want to play in a championship series you better be ready to pony up the cash. I looked at the last six years and this is what I found:

Average Salary of a CS team: $127,971,557

2013: $160,254,781

2012: $154,400,843

2011: $97,233,850

2010: $125,267,620

2009: $132,155,109

2008: $98,517,262

Lowest team payroll: 2008 Rays, $43,820,597

Highest team payroll, 2012 NYY, $223,302,212

Occasionally, a low payroll team will sneak in (5 teams with less than 100 million out of 24 CS teams) but it is rare. Low payroll teams just have to pass the tougher test. They have to get more decisions correct and can't falter on a big deal to a player who doesn't produce because of age, injury or ineffectiveness.

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I don't think the OP is silly at all. If anything, in these short series, the higher payroll helps more than it does in the regular season, for one reason - the infamous 'ACE' pitcher costs many more millions than teams like the A's are willing to pay. Sonny Gray (and Gerrit Cole before him) are very good young pitchers, but they could not match up, in that big-game situation, with Verlander/Wainwright.

Verlander's salary in 2013 is $20M. Wainwright's is $12M. It is very doubtful that either the A's or the Pirates will ever have a pitcher costing even Wainwright money, let alone Verlander money.

Look at the salaries of the top two pitchers on each of the CS staffs:

Verlander - $20M

Scherzer - $6.7M (but they also have Sanchez at $8.8M this year, and $15.8M next year)

Lester - $11.6M

Lackey - $15.2M (they have Buchholz at a good price of $5.5M, for now)

Kershaw - $11M (a bargain, for now, but not for long - and it's doubtful he stays with his original team even to this point if that team was the A's or Rays, or others)

Greinke - $19M (they also have Ryu at $3.3M, which increases annually to $7.8 eventually, but either way looks like LA got a steal there).

Wainwright - $11M

the rest of their rotation is cheap, but they have Carpenter on the DL at $10.5M

Other than the Cardinals, almost none of these pitchers would ever pitch for a team like the A's or Pirates, at this point in their careers; their ONLY hope for pitching excellence is to develop their own, like the Rays have done with Price - but even in those cases, many times the ACE is gone before he gets too expensive, either in arbitration or in FA (as Price may very well be soon).

The bottom line is that the higher payroll teams have a much better chance to succeed (IMO) in a short series, because they have a better chance at having the pitching matchup in their favor. Even a very good young staff, like Oakland's, can be overmatched in a short series, or in a clinching game. And, like Camden Yardbird has said, there is a much higher margin of error for high payroll teams, because a guy making $10M plus (like Carpenter, or many other examples) that is out for a year does not hamstring them.

Yes, teams can spend their money wiser - certainly the O's can. And yes, small market front offices can build very good to great teams. But that doesn't change the fact that there is a competitive advantage to having a $400M annual TV contract (for instance).

This will never change, and I long ago gave up arguing about it, but it's false to pretend like it doesn't exist.

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The longer the series the greater the chance, I think, that the large payroll team has the advantage. It's not so much about the starting nine and the top of the bullpen as it is with the end of the bench and bullpen. Teams with high payroll typically have experienced players in these positions who are not overwhelmed by post-season appearances, whereas teams like the Rays and A's (and O's last year) will have AAAA players filling out the end of the roster - less experience in high stress situations.

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I don't think the OP is silly at all. If anything, in these short series, the higher payroll helps more than it does in the regular season, for one reason - the infamous 'ACE' pitcher costs many more millions than teams like the A's are willing to pay. Sonny Gray (and Gerrit Cole before him) are very good young pitchers, but they could not match up, in that big-game situation, with Verlander/Wainwright.

Verlander's salary in 2013 is $20M. Wainwright's is $12M. It is very doubtful that either the A's or the Pirates will ever have a pitcher costing even Wainwright money, let alone Verlander money.

Look at the salaries of the top two pitchers on each of the CS staffs:

Verlander - $20M

Scherzer - $6.7M (but they also have Sanchez at $8.8M this year, and $15.8M next year)

Lester - $11.6M

Lackey - $15.2M (they have Buchholz at a good price of $5.5M, for now)

Kershaw - $11M (a bargain, for now, but not for long - and it's doubtful he stays with his original team even to this point if that team was the A's or Rays, or others)

Greinke - $19M (they also have Ryu at $3.3M, which increases annually to $7.8 eventually, but either way looks like LA got a steal there).

Wainwright - $11M

the rest of their rotation is cheap, but they have Carpenter on the DL at $10.5M

Other than the Cardinals, almost none of these pitchers would ever pitch for a team like the A's or Pirates, at this point in their careers; their ONLY hope for pitching excellence is to develop their own, like the Rays have done with Price - but even in those cases, many times the ACE is gone before he gets too expensive, either in arbitration or in FA (as Price may very well be soon).

The bottom line is that the higher payroll teams have a much better chance to succeed (IMO) in a short series, because they have a better chance at having the pitching matchup in their favor. Even a very good young staff, like Oakland's, can be overmatched in a short series, or in a clinching game. And, like Camden Yardbird has said, there is a much higher margin of error for high payroll teams, because a guy making $10M plus (like Carpenter, or many other examples) that is out for a year does not hamstring them.

Yes, teams can spend their money wiser - certainly the O's can. And yes, small market front offices can build very good to great teams. But that doesn't change the fact that there is a competitive advantage to having a $400M annual TV contract (for instance).

This will never change, and I long ago gave up arguing about it, but it's false to pretend like it doesn't exist.

Excellent post... as I was watching Verlander mow downtthe A's it was really hitting me how fare the O's are from being a CS team. You have to have that ace or two to win the big games.

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The longer the series the greater the chance, I think, that the large payroll team has the advantage. It's not so much about the starting nine and the top of the bullpen as it is with the end of the bench and bullpen. Teams with high payroll typically have experienced players in these positions who are not overwhelmed by post-season appearances, whereas teams like the Rays and A's (and O's last year) will have AAAA players filling out the end of the roster - less experience in high stress situations.

See, I feel the opposite of this. I think of it like this: in a one game series between the A's and the Tigers, who has the better pitcher on the mound in all likelihood? Almost certainly the Tigers, especially when post season (or in some cases, any kind of) experience is factored in. In a five game series, you get the 'ace' matchup twice - so that's two games where the Tigers have a relatively clear advantage on the mound, going in.

Now, in a season long series of 18 games or whatever (division games), you have a better chance of those frontline players having less impact on each individual game - more times when the 'best' pitchers aren't matching up - hence the regular season success (and relative 'failure' in the postseason) over the years of teams like the Twins, A's, and Rays (WS appearance notwithstanding). I think the chances of a lower budget team having a good 5th starter, or a good bullpen, are equal to those of the higher budget team, because those types of position are such a crapshoot anyway. It's hard to just throw money at the 5th starter role - there just isn't anybody out there worth spending money on, so everyone is in the same pool so to speak. Same with the majority of bullpen roles - the volatility and interchangeability of BP arms from year to year has been discussed a lot.

All in all, I think the #1 ingredient to winning a championship is a true, blue number one, 'ace' starter. If you don't have that, you are at a disadvantage in a post-season series. And, for the most part, by the time a guy gets to that level - when he can really be counted on as the ace of a staff, not a developing ace or future number one, or whatever you want to call him - he has priced himself out of the market for a lot of teams.

If Sabathia was pitching for the O's last year in game 5, instead of the Yankees, who wins that game? Probably the O's....

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I'm not really advocating an absolute position here and I agree with you the TOR starter, if available in the deciding game, plays a lot into the outcome. The point I'm trying to make is that the ability to extend a series to get to your TOR in the deciding game is a function of all the players on your roster in a 5 or 7 game series. Not to cause people bad memories, but if you look at the Yankees roster during their dominant run, I don't think that you'll find a lot of Ryan Flaherty's, Omar Q's , etc. I think the bench has the potential of playing a major role in some of these games and if your bench is bad....

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See, I feel the opposite of this. I think of it like this: in a one game series between the A's and the Tigers, who has the better pitcher on the mound in all likelihood? Almost certainly the Tigers, especially when post season (or in some cases, any kind of) experience is factored in. In a five game series, you get the 'ace' matchup twice - so that's two games where the Tigers have a relatively clear advantage on the mound, going in.

Now, in a season long series of 18 games or whatever (division games), you have a better chance of those frontline players having less impact on each individual game - more times when the 'best' pitchers aren't matching up - hence the regular season success (and relative 'failure' in the postseason) over the years of teams like the Twins, A's, and Rays (WS appearance notwithstanding). I think the chances of a lower budget team having a good 5th starter, or a good bullpen, are equal to those of the higher budget team, because those types of position are such a crapshoot anyway. It's hard to just throw money at the 5th starter role - there just isn't anybody out there worth spending money on, so everyone is in the same pool so to speak. Same with the majority of bullpen roles - the volatility and interchangeability of BP arms from year to year has been discussed a lot.

All in all, I think the #1 ingredient to winning a championship is a true, blue number one, 'ace' starter. If you don't have that, you are at a disadvantage in a post-season series. And, for the most part, by the time a guy gets to that level - when he can really be counted on as the ace of a staff, not a developing ace or future number one, or whatever you want to call him - he has priced himself out of the market for a lot of teams.

If Sabathia was pitching for the O's last year in game 5, instead of the Yankees, who wins that game? Probably the O's....

Unless Joe Saunders is pitching for the Yankees.

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I'm not really advocating an absolute position here and I agree with you the TOR starter, if available in the deciding game, plays a lot into the outcome. The point I'm trying to make is that the ability to extend a series to get to your TOR in the deciding game is a function of all the players on your roster in a 5 or 7 game series. Not to cause people bad memories, but if you look at the Yankees roster during their dominant run, I don't think that you'll find a lot of Ryan Flaherty's, Omar Q's , etc. I think the bench has the potential of playing a major role in some of these games and if your bench is bad....

I'm not taking a hard position either, really. I'm not saying money is the only factor, however I do feel it is a huge factor in these short series, so to dismiss payroll as a non factor due to a small sample size in a short series of games, or something like that (not saying you were doing that) is just as wrong as saying the only reason they won is because of money.

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They have to get more decisions correct and can't falter on a big deal to a player who doesn't produce because of age, injury or ineffectiveness.

I've pointed this out before, specifically about the Yankees.

The biggest injustice (in the sporting sense) about the Yankees' bottomless pit of a payroll is that there is no "risk/reward" factor for the Yankees. For most teams, if they splurge on a couple of highly expensive free agents that don't work out, that team will be pretty severely hamstrung financially as a result for several years. For the Yankees, it doesn't matter if they spend a lot of money on free agents that either bust and/or don't live up to the expectations that they had of them when they gave them all that money (Carl Pavano, A. J. Burnett, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera, etc.) Or for that matter, Derek Jeter's current contract. Jeter wasn't a free agent signing, but considering the ****load of money that they gave to him when he signed his contract extension back in 2010, he isn't coming close to playing like a $17 Million a year signing. They just keep spending and spending with little or no repercussions.

So having a payroll of more $200 Million for more than a decade, and having that type of payroll for 2 decades does not necessarily guarantee world championships, or even league championships (as the Yankees won in 2001 and 2003 before losing in those years' World Series), but it sure as hell makes it pretty damned easy to put a winning team on the field every year (as the Yankees have done every year for 21 consecutive seasons from 1993-2013), and/or put a playoff team on the field almost every year (as the Yankees have done 17 times out of 19 from 1995 to 2013.)

So, while the OP's specific point about this year's 4 league championship series teams can have holes poked in it (by countering that several other teams with considerably smaller payrolls like the Pirates, the Rays, and the Athletics also made the playoffs this year), his general premise overall is a solid one (that teams with considerably higher payrolls have an unquestionably enormous advantage over mid-market and small-market teams.)

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2) Los Angeles Dodgers $216,302,909

4) Boston $158,967,286

5) Detroit $149,046,844

11) St. Louis $116,702,085

http://deadspin.com/2013-payrolls-and-salaries-for-every-mlb-team-462765594

Guaranteed Contracts

Jose Reyes, SS: $86MM through 2017

Mark Buehrle, SP: $37MM through 2015

Jose Bautista, OF: $29MM through 2015

R.A. Dickey, SP: $25MM through 2015

Edwin Encarnacion, 1B: $21MM through 2015

Ricky Romero, SP: $15.6MM through 2015

Brandon Morrow, SP: $9MM through 2014

Melky Cabrera, OF: $8MM through 2014

Maicer Izturis, IF: $7MM through 2015

J.A. Happ, SP: $5.4MM through 2014

Sergio Santos, RP: $4.5MM through 2014

Dustin McGowan, RP: $2MM through 2014

Josh Thole, C: $1.25MM through 2014

Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses)

Colby Rasmus, OF (5.000): $6.5MM

J.P. Arencibia, C (3.059): $2.8MM

Esmil Rogers, SP/RP (3.135, non-tender candidate): $1MM

Brett Cecil, RP (3.152): $900K

Contract Options

Adam Lind, 1B: $7MM club option ($2MM buyout)

Casey Janssen, RP: $4MM club option

Munenori Kawasaki, 2B/SS: $1MM club option

Mark DeRosa, IF: $750K club option ($25K buyout)

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Guaranteed Contracts

Jose Reyes, SS: $86MM through 2017

Mark Buehrle, SP: $37MM through 2015

Jose Bautista, OF: $29MM through 2015

R.A. Dickey, SP: $25MM through 2015

Edwin Encarnacion, 1B: $21MM through 2015

Ricky Romero, SP: $15.6MM through 2015

Brandon Morrow, SP: $9MM through 2014

Melky Cabrera, OF: $8MM through 2014

Maicer Izturis, IF: $7MM through 2015

J.A. Happ, SP: $5.4MM through 2014

Sergio Santos, RP: $4.5MM through 2014

Dustin McGowan, RP: $2MM through 2014

Josh Thole, C: $1.25MM through 2014

Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses)

Colby Rasmus, OF (5.000): $6.5MM

J.P. Arencibia, C (3.059): $2.8MM

Esmil Rogers, SP/RP (3.135, non-tender candidate): $1MM

Brett Cecil, RP (3.152): $900K

Contract Options

Adam Lind, 1B: $7MM club option ($2MM buyout)

Casey Janssen, RP: $4MM club option

Munenori Kawasaki, 2B/SS: $1MM club option

Mark DeRosa, IF: $750K club option ($25K buyout)

What is the point of this? That spending lots of money doesn't guarantee anything? No one is saying it does. Plus, the Angels are probably an even better example of that point, IF that is even your point...

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