It’s always a nice story to see a situation like in the movie Moneyball, where the underdog team with the low payroll hangs in there with the powerhouse big spenders. But all it is is a nice story. More often than not, David doesn’t beat Goliath.
Nice stories don’t always have happy endings and now that the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A’s have been eliminated from postseason competition, we once again get to see the competitive imbalance in Major League Baseball.
What do the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals all have in common? All four teams have payrolls over $100 million and are among the nine biggest spenders in the game.
Taking a look at each team, the Yankees and their $197 million payroll (highest in MLB) can afford to add to their team at any time.
The Tigers in the offseason found out that Victor Martinez would be lost for the season and they were able to go out and sign Prince Fielder to a mega-deal to replace him. At $132 million, they have the fifth-highest payroll in the majors.
The Giants have a payroll topping $117 million (eighth in MLB) and were able to afford to add a big bat at the trade deadline in Hunter Pence, who will likely cost $15 million or more next season.
Finally there’s the Cardinals and their $110 million (ninth in MLB) payroll, who allowed Albert Pujols to walk, but can still afford to throw money at whoever they want, including the likes of Carlos Beltran, who proved to be a difference-maker.
Basically this once again shows that the teams willing to spend money have greater success. Every once in a while a team with a smaller payroll can catch lightning in a bottle, but more often than not, the teams willing to spend win out in the end.
You look at the Pirates and their $63 million (fifth lowest) payroll and it’s frustrating to watch the Bucs come so close the past couple of seasons, only to watch the rich keep getting richer.
What Bob Nutting fails to realize is that while the Bucs can develop talent and every once in a while can develop a legitimate major leaguer, the more he continues his frugal ways, the smaller the Pirates window will be to do something with the likes of Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez in a Pirates’ uniform.
It’s a very simple process. Talent wins games and talent cost money.
Unfortunately, until Nutting realizes that and is willing to support this franchise in the proper fashion in order to make the necessary moves, then the Bucs will always be a franchise trying to catch lighting in a bottle.
Instead of acquiring a Travis Snider-type, hoping he pans out, it would be nice to see Nutting allow his baseball people to openly go out and improve this team with proven talent.
Again, talent wins games and talent costs money.
Will the Pirates be any better next season than in 2012? Maybe a few games, but they still have the same holes as they did this year and it’s almost a guarantee that they won’t fill those holes with proven commodities.
But that’s not all the Pirates fault. The system is broken. But the system is what it is and you either decide to jump into the deep end or stay in the shallow end of the pool.
If Nutting needs a visual aid to understand what it takes to compete, just look at the teams still playing this deep in October, which is supposed to be the goal, isn’t it?
Unfortunately though, as fans, we all know that if the Bucs don’t get lucky and catch lightning in a bottle, they will never get out of the kiddie pool.