Here it is!
Money, Money, Money by Adam Lowenstein
The last 15 of 16 World Series winners have had payrolls in the top half of all the teams in Major League Baseball. Most casual sports fans could have told you that. However, not too many people can state that in 14 of the previous 16 seasons, at least one bottom half payroll team has made the playoffs. In the business of baseball, the goal of most teams is to advance to the postseason. The MLB has the lowest percentage of teams making the playoffs (27%) out of the four main professional sports; the NFL has 38% of its teams while the NBA and NHL have more than half of their teams making the postseason dance.
Reaching the postseason is a significant measure of a successful ballclub in the major leagues. Well-known Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane, who built his team with young players and low salaries, has said, “My job is to get us to the playoffs.” He invented the ‘Moneyball’ approach that many teams have since adopted. After Beane took over as the A’s GM in 1998, he brought a last place team in 1997 and 1998 to the playoffs in each of the four seasons from 2000 to 2003. His new pervasive outlook on baseball has benefited many small market teams that cannot spend as much money as the wealthier teams.
There have been 7 seasons out of the last 16 in which at least 3 bottom half payroll teams have made the MLB playoffs. This was best represented by the Florida Marlins shocking victory over the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series. The Yankees with the highest payroll lost to the Marlins, the team with the 25th highest payroll. That should not happen according to conventional wisdom. The Yankees, with 8 players with higher salaries than Florida’s highest salaried player, should have at least forced a Game 7 versus the lowly Marlins. Still, the Marlins, behind the outstanding pitching of Josh Beckett, won the World Series in 6 games at Yankee Stadium with a payroll $100 million less than that of the Yankees.
In the 19 years that the Florida Marlins have existed, they have been good enough and ‘lucky’ enough to win 2 World Series Championships. Although they had the 7th highest payroll in 1997 for their first win, from 1998 to 2011 the Marlins have kept their team payroll near the lowest in the league. Florida has been successful because most of their young players and low-risk decisions have panned out. For example, in 2003, the Marlins starting rotation of Josh Beckett, Carl Pavano, Mark Redman, Dontrelle Willis and Brad Penny garnered less than $7.5 million combined. Most aces make much more than that in a year. Those investments provided very high rewards for the Marlins.
Small market teams are hoping they can hit the jackpot like Florida did. Most of them though have not fared as well. Franchises like the Expos/Nationals, Royals and Orioles have had a lot of trouble succeeding. Since those teams do not have the same resources that high payroll teams do, they have to depend on developing players through their farm systems. Conversely, teams such as the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers and Mets can afford to take on many large contracts at a time. Many say that Red Sox General Manger Theo Epstein has done a very good job, but having a large payroll allows him to make mistakes. Since 2003 when Epstein began as the GM, the Red Sox have not had a payroll lower than 6th in the MLB. Having a substantial budget gives him the opportunity to dish out risky contracts. Since trading Nomar Garciaparra midway through 2004, the Red Sox have had a revolving door at shortstop, which has included the horrifying contracts of Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo. In 2005, Epstein gave $8 million to Renteria, who made an MLB-high 30 errors and did not even reach hitting 10 home runs at the plate. Then a few years later, Epstein gifted a lot of money on Lugo, who had a .319 on-base percentage and .346 slugging percentage with Boston. The Red Sox organization paid him over $35 million, which included $8.85 million of his $9.25 million contract with the Orioles in 2010. Even with these questionable signings, the Red Sox have continued to make the playoffs 6 out of the last 7 seasons and have won 2 World Series in that time.
In 2011, the Boston Red Sox, with the 3rd highest payroll, are in a prime position for yet another postseason appearance. In addition, as of today*, the playoffs would also include the Yankees (highest payroll in MLB), Phillies (2nd highest), Tigers (10th), Rangers (13th), Braves (15th), Brewers (17th) and Diamondbacks (25th). This slate of teams includes 2 bottom half payroll teams, which is approximately the average number over the last 16 years. It appears that a fourth of the playoff teams tend to be teams with lower payrolls. Overall, money can lead to positive results in the MLB, but low-payroll teams can be successful in the business as well if they make the right decisions.
*Today: standings before games on Monday, August 15.
**The MLB expanded from 28 to 30 teams in 1998. For data from 1995 to 1997, top half payrolls are 1-14; for 1998 to present, they are 1-15.
We did this text question during Saturday night’s Red Sox/Mariners broadcast. Response was overwhelming, but one player stood out as the clear favorite (here’s a small sample):
-Ted williams is always tempting, but this year i say bring back vintage pedro martinez.
- Tough choice but could imagine pedro of 2000 in this rotation? that would be a formitable force on both sides of the ball. -Dave, Maine
-Pedro Martinez = World Series
-Playoff Rotation: Pedro Martinez, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester.
-I would bring back Pedro Martinez. Then the Red Sox would have 1,2,3, pitchers to match anyone. Pedro,Beckett, and Jonny Lester. Go SOX!
-1999-2000 Pedro Martinez…. Best pitcher in the game in the middle of the Steroid Boom
-Pedro Martinez they need another reliable starter & his playoff experience
-Young Pedro. The best pitcher I’ve ever seen in person.We could use a dominate arm. Clay Gainsville, Fl
-I would bring back Pedro Martinez in prime… Back then if the sox scored more than 2 runs 95% of the time it meant a sox win… With this offense, we wo uld be planning our championship parade right now in early august
-Hi Joe & Dave. I’d bring back Pedro. When he was in his prime, he was DOMINANT! Leslie from NH
-Pedro Hello? Is it even a question?
Joe Castiglione sent a text message to Pedro himself to let him know the amount of people who want to see him back in a Red Sox uniform, and Pedro responded to him earlier today. Pedro wrote, and i quote:
Pedro wasn’t the only player that you wanted to see back in a Red Sox uniform. Here are a bunch of other texts we received:
352 I Would bring back Fred Lynn enjoyed watching him catch hard to catch hit ball. Syco lynn. T from Monson Ma
401 John pesky! Red sox 4 life. Why not bring him back?
207 MIKE LOWELL!
413 I would bring back yaz he played the game the way it was intended!! Rudy Wilk Palmer Massachusetts
801 Hey guys.. besides the obvious of teddy ballgame or Pedro I would bring back kevin millar. Loved his personality. Rob in carver
207 Jim Rice 76 to 79 was there a better hitter
603 Feed Lynn circa 1975
646 Dick ratitz (the monster) to save games
781 Curt Schilling: bulldog tough & great in the big game
503 What about big Mo Vaughn? Our last MVP!
508 Nomar in his prime would be something
860 Jim Lonborg, for his fearless style.
413 I loved bill lee. He had a great Vegetarian lasagna recipe! He also hated the red shoes. maureen From Westfield
617 id bring back jerry remy!
603 Sean casey. The mayor
413 Trot nixon. love that dirt dog
617 Dewey … Because they need a RF who can hit for power, get on base, play every day and lead by example …
860 Tony Conigliaro because he never got to play in the 67 world series & his bat wouldn’t hurt
413 Kevin mallar!
207 Rico Petrocelli, it just rolls
413 Pedro, DUH! From Thomas
915 Trot and Millar… my favs!
401 Dick Drago, need I say more!!!!!
512 Why not Cy Young? I heard he could pitch pretty well.
774 Ted williams the guy hit 400 what more could u want
617 curt schilling post season record speaks for itself yankees suck
860 2011 team + Pedro in his prime = championship.
781 Lou merloni….Red sox legend
207 Brian daubach no doubt
603 Rem Dog why not
860 I would bring back Nomar. The sox could really use a reliable shortstop right now.
401 Curt schilling . he played with is messed up and I showed me I had a lot of willpower
617 1995 Mo Vaughn
413 Wade boogs
312 Ted Williams because he made everybody better
413 Bring back curt schilling
413 Bob montgomery. Mr clutch
207 Louis taint awesome starter and closer
413 Dewey Dewey Dewey
207 Dave stapelton!
207 Curt schillings great pitcher CHAD IN MAINE
401 tony c before he got injured just to see what could have been
774 Wade Boggs lol
781 Ted williams always
617 Nomar … Because they’ve been looking for a SS since Nomar!
774 Curt shilling. Best In the post season. Greg cape cod
339 Tom brunansky
603 Ah, Babe Ruth…winning duh!
617 Oil Can. We need humor these days.
785 Curt Schilling. Because right now, this pitching staff needs HEART!
304 Manny or Jim Rice, ’cause they need a RH bat. Go Sox from Pat in WV.
401 El Tiante!!!
315 Bring back Babe Ruth as a pitcher. If he hadn’t become an everyday player, the Cy Young award might have been the Babe Ruth. Rich in Syracuse, NY
413 The rocket before all the bull happen chris from myrtle beach south carolina
401 Mike greenwell was pretty awesome
508 Kevin millar because he was the coolest red Sox ever!
207 yaz would get 180 rbis in this lineup
413 Luis Tiant. 1975World series performance was incredible
860 I would bring back Nomar. The sox could really use a reliable shortstop right now.
617 Jim Lonborg alway need pitchers who win in the clutch
609 The Spaceman, Bill Lee. He could pitch AND he was fun!
603 Pre wrist injury Nomar
401 Solidify right field with Dwight Evans… Crawford, Ellsbury & Evans would be a very feared outfield!
860 Shilling super clutch
203 Nomar! Nomar! Nomar!
860 Johnny Pesky, he was great good lord beckett, whatta u doing??!!?
774 Jim rice. Hall of famer and brings a smile to the clubhouse
207 Tonight i would take 07 beckett!
207 The splendid splinter. .406 nuf said.
339 Luis tiant .doesnt get enough credit. clutch and classy man.
413 Easy Ed Romero
603 Carlton Fisk circa 1975 nuff said
603 Bring back Babe Ruth! Joe, Pelham, NH
413 Carlton fisk. Just because. Solid player.
415 Bill Lee-just for the interviews alone.
860 Dave Roberts – he saved a Nation….
413 Best redsox player of all time Mo Vaughn no doubt
802 Bernie Carbon; now that he’s clean, pinch hit HR city ;)
And my PERSONAL favorite……..
Our Sunoco Text Question of the night is this: Follow the link below and watch the video. Is it real, or edited? If you think it’s legit, should the Red Sox have the batter at Fenway Park for a demo? Text us your answer to 8-50-8-5-0 during tonight’s broadcast to let us know what you think!
Joe and Dave will mention some of your answers during the game, and I’ll post your responses here later on!
Nicholas Bove is one of our interns here at WEEI. As a student at BU, he did a previous intern stint with WEEI.com, and wanted to try out the programming side of radio. He’s been a top-notch intern for the Sox Radio crew this summer….and here’s his first Sox Booth blog post (sorry it took so long for me to post this, Nick!!):
If you’re taking the time to read this, then there’s no need to preach to the choir. Any one of us out there would do anything to have a paying job covering baseball on a nightly basis, especially in the largest and most devoted baseball market featuring the best team in the league. Unfortunately I don’t quite have that job – I’m a step just below it. I get to do all the fun stuff for free. I’m Nick Bove and I’m one of WEEI’s Red Sox production interns.
To a very, very small portion of you, I may be familiar. I wrote for the WEEI website last summer, mostly transcribing our big three radio shows (sorry Mikey) and putting together countdowns with a few features thrown in here and there. It was exciting, and heartbreaking, to help cover last year’s Celtics and Bruins as they pushed through the postseason. In the end however the Red Sox always made their way to the forefront and onto the front page. That’s what brings me here this summer.
I’m currently entering my final year at Boston University with a Broadcast Journalism degree, so this job is more my cup of tea. Being in Boston is a far cry from where I grew up in Schenectady, NY. It’s the Upstate heart of Yankee territory, but don’t worry, I can’t respect the organization and I can’t stand the fans (don’t get me started on John Sterling and Michael Kay). On the other hand, spending four years in Fenway’s shadow has really grown on me and I’m enjoying the atmosphere here in Red Sox Nation.
Of course this year, the Sox have been making themselves especially easy to love. As I write this, they’ve come off two consecutive walk-offs by Jacoby Ellsbury, bringing their total to seven walk-offs this season.
Even though the offices around here are pretty barren for night games, there’s still a slightly noticeable buzz when a walk-off happens. The few workers there are scramble to capture Dave O’Brien’s masterful commentary for the archives and rush to get a postgame show ready that was completely different five minutes earlier. And yet through it all there’s still a very calm demeanor of the professionals you don’t see in the studios and the ones you hear on the air. Everybody’s done this before and they know what they’re doing. It’s that kind of story I want to tell for the fans. Consider it scene-setting for those who can’t get through security downstairs.
I’m looking forward to giving you, the faithful, all the news you need and insight on what you might not know (or at least as much as Bernie will let me). Working behind the scenes has been a real eye-opening experience and I hope I can convey that excitement to everyone over the next few weeks here on the blog.
Adam whipped up this blog post over the weekend, and finished it up tonight…he touches on the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry from a different vantage-point:
While cutting Yankees/White Sox highlights from tonight’s game, Intern Adam wrote up his new Sox Booth Intern blog…..here’s Adam with his opinion on the Home Run Derby held every year by Major League Baseball:
Derby Dilemma by Adam Lowenstein
Perennially, the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby is the most exciting event of the summer. While all the other professional sports are not in season, the MLB takes center stage and presents their best players during the 2011 All-Star Weekend. As the All-Star Game itself becomes less and less enjoyable as more players decline their invitations, the Home Run Derby steps up to the plate as the most electrifying MLB spectacle of the mid-summer celebration.
Unfortunately, players seem to hurt their swing by participating in the derby. Every year, some of the participants experience an extreme offensive drop off after the derby. Even a few players endure injuries soon after. For example, after playing 13 games since the All-Star break, Rickie Weeks severely sprained his left ankle and is out for approximately a month. Last year, Hanley Ramirez played 86 of the Marlins’ 88 games in the first half of the season, but missed 18 games after the All-Star break due to an elbow injury. And in 2009, Nelson Cruz missed 27 games in the second half of the season after only missing 7 in the first half. Also, in 2009, Carlos Pena played 88 of 89 first half games and then missed 26 of 73 after the derby. Injuries can significantly hurt a team because these power hitters are very hard to find and extremely difficult to replace.
In previous years, the Home Run Derby has statistically hurt players much more than it has helped. In 2008 itself, four of the eight derby participants had significant depletions in their hitting after the derby. Lance Berkman went from having a first half of .347 AVG/.443 OBP/.653 SLG to a second half of .259/.384/.436. 2008 Derby winner Justin Morneau and Dan Uggla also had their struggles. After the All-Star break, they both fell off by more than .050 in batting average, .040 in on-base percentage, .200 in slugging percentage and .13 in home runs per game from their first half statistics. Chase Utley did not fair too well either with regard to home runs. He had 25 HR in 94 games (.27 per game) before the derby; however, afterward, he had only 8 in 65 games (.12 HR per game). What could be the worst incidents of ‘Derby Depression’ are Bobby Abreu in 2005 and Brandon Inge in 2009. Abreu dropped from 18 HR and .307/.428/.526 in the first half to 6 HR and .260/.376/.411 in the second half after winning the derby with the best single derby HR total (41). Inge was even worse: a first half of 21 HR and .268/.360/.515 to a second half of 6 HR and .186/.260/.281.
These horrendous collapses from Home Run Derby hitters are even apparent in the limited number of games since the All-Star break this year. Before Rickie Weeks went down with his injury in the second half, he was hitting .217/.308/.413 after a first half of .278/.351/.486. In addition, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Matt Holliday and Jose Bautista are all experiencing falls in their HR numbers after the derby. Gonzalez has 1 HR in 15 games since the break (0.07 HR per game) after having 19 in 87 games (0.22 per game). Ortiz has 1 HR in 13 games and neither Matt Holliday nor Jose Bautista has any HR since the derby. Obviously, these players do have two months to turn around their power numbers in the second half of the season, but as of right now, the Home Run Derby is affecting all of them.
Being an exhibition event, the Home Run Derby should be an enjoyable experience for both fans and players. Unfortunately, players are somewhat reluctant to participate because of the consequences to their hitting. The majority of hitters reformulate their swing during the derby in order to hit as many home runs as they can. Therefore, they must readjust to normal pitching after the 3-day All-Star break, which includes the derby. This awkward situation presents the ‘Derby Dilemma,’ in which a good or even great home run hitter must decide whether to risk his second half power numbers by being a part of the Home Run Derby.
*All statistics are official as of games before Monday, August 1
RHP Chris Balcom-Miller is a 22 year old from California. The Red Sox got him from Colorado when they traded Manny Delcarmen to the Rockies last August. Balcom-Miller began the year with high A Salem where he pitched to a 2.34 ERA before being promoted to AA Portland. So far with the Sea Dogs he’s 2-4 with a 4.83 ERA through 10 starts. Combined he has 78 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched. The Rockies selected him in the 6th round of the 2009 draft out of West Valley College in California. Thanks to Portland broadcaster Mike Antonellis we have this conversation.
Once in awhile here in the studio, our broadcast interns will write a blog post for us…here’s Adam’s first edition:
Dale Arnold recently took his AllStar vacation week and went to Paris, France…..little did he know that his hotel location would have a close connection to our Italian broadcaster, Joe Castiglione:
Also…..do they serve finger sangwiches at this bar?