Let me start by saying I agree with those fans that feel the Orioles should spend more on their payroll. Dan Duquette has mentioned the $100 million figure for the 2014 payroll and the O’s should spend at least that much on talent for this season.
With their payroll somewhere probably around the low $80s right now, they have some money to spend according to the head of the club’s baseball operations.
Some fans are stirred up over the payroll issue and the Orioles are probably never going to hear the end of that unless they win to start the 2014 season and then go on to have a better season than many of you who post here have predicted.
But I would like to point out some facts, and they are facts that you can’t really dispute.
You do not have to spend big to win. That point has been hammered home often in the majors, most recently just last year.
Of the clubs with the top 10 payrolls in 2013, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts Web site, just three made the playoffs. Of the clubs with the bottom five payrolls last year, three made the playoffs.
So only 30 percent of the top payroll clubs made the postseason while 60 percent of the bottom five made it.
Did I mention you do not have to spend big to win?
The top 10 payrolls from 2013:
$229 million - New York Yankees
$217 million - Los Angeles Dodgers
$160 million - Philadelphia Phillies
$159 million - Boston Red Sox
$149 million - Detroit Tigers
$137 million - San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels
$125 million - Texas Rangers
$124 million - Chicago White Sox
$119 million - Toronto Blue Jays
By the way, of the 10 clubs that did make the playoffs last year, just five spent $100 million or more on players and five were under, some well under that amount.
Bottom five payrolls from 2013:
$67 million - Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland A’s
$62 million - Tampa Bay Rays
$50 million - Miami Marlins
$26 million - Houston Astros
Here are the O’s payrolls for the last three seasons:
2011 - $87 million
2012 - $84 million
2013 - $92 million
Guess which season of the three they had both their lowest payroll figure and made the playoffs? Yep, 2012.
Now, no doubt you could research other years and likely get a result where most of the top payrolls probably did prevail. This is a one-year look, but in the most recent year, clearly spending big dollars didn’t work out for seven of the top 10 spending clubs.
Spending doesn’t necessarily equal trying as so many fans have said so many times. It does give the big-dollar boys perhaps more room for error. If the Yankees make a $50 million dollar mistake, they just write another check. A mistake of that amount would be damaging to many other clubs.
O’s fans are frustrated and everyone gets that. The club has let some pitchers that signed for low dollar amounts (by today’s salary standard) go off the board, including Dan Haren, Bartolo Colon and now Bronson Arroyo. It looks like A.J. Burnett could be the next to sign - but maybe not with Baltimore.
If the O’s pursue Ervin Santana and/or Ubaldo Jimenez, they have to give up their first-round draft pick to sign either. It seems to me they could have gotten a decent pitcher for fewer years and dollars without giving up a pick, but they’ve now likely waited too long for that to still be true, unless they pull off a late miracle and land Burnett.
Now let me go back to the first sentence I wrote before you charge my house with pitchforks. I, too, think the club should spend more and soon.
But I also don’t think spending directly leads to wins and playoff appearances and we only have to go back to last year for evidence to support that.