Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekly In-Depth Look: Oakland Athletics (38-27)

Out of all the low salary teams that we have examined, the Oakland Athletics have been arguably the most successful. From 2001-2002, the Athletics won 205 games (second to only the Seattle Mariners) with a team salary that ranked second-to-last in the league. Although they faced some struggles in the following years, a couple shrewd trades and signings put them back on course as they won 94 games and won their division. With a total team salary of $63,994,500, the Athletics rank 26th in the league in payroll, but 8th in winning percentage. They started the 2013 season out strong, but soon faced injuries and struggles from their key players, pushing them to the back of their division. Recently though, the Athletics have been back to their winning ways, taking 6 of their past 9 games. With the help of Bartolo Colon's surprise season, and Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick's return from the disabled list, it seems the Athletics are poised for another solid season. By developing a young core of pitching for their framework, the Athletics have been able to spend their money elsewhere, such as on short contracts to veterans that people underestimate. Coco Crisp and Bartolo Colon are great examples of this, as they were both signed to contracts under $10 million a year, but have performed way above the league's average. Cespedes's contract, which was for $36 million over 4 years, seems like one of the biggest bargains in recent years as he pushed his way into the top 10 for MVP voting last year. Billy Beane, the Athletics' General Manager, has been praised for his success in utilizing sabermetrics so much that several other teams have tried to follow in his footsteps, for example the Boston Red Sox used Beane's methods to put together their 2004 World Series winning-team. Not only do the Athletics have one of the youngest and strongest teams in the league, but they also have one of the deepest minor league systems that should continue to supply them with cost-efficient players to lead their team of the future.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Weekly In-Depth Look: Tampa Bay Rays (31-25)

After two weeks of examining teams that are currently in the rebuilding process, we finally take a look at a team that is experiencing success right now, the Tampa Bay Rays. With a team salary of $55,955,272, the Rays rank 28th in the league for total payroll, but rank just outside the top ten in winning percentage (11th). Even after trading away one of their top starting pitchers, James Shields, and one of their most efficient relievers, Wade Davis, the Rays have continued their recent success. Although they received several top prospects in return, including one of the top outfield prospects in the league, Wil Myers, the Rays' major league team still took a big hit that should have taken a toll on its winning percentage. Fortunately for the Rays, it did not, mainly due to their extreme pitching depth. In recent years, the Rays have been one of the best examples that a low team salary does not ensure a low winning percentage. Over the past five years, the Rays have made the playoffs three times, even making it to the World Series in 2008. Dealing with one of the bottom five lowest payrolls, they have competed with the rest of the league mainly by developing a young core of pitching, headed by 2012 Cy Young award winner David Price, along with the offense of their franchise third-basemen, Evan Longoria. The main problem the Rays have faced over the past few years is that they do not have the money to resign their all-star players, therefore they instead must trade them before they hit the free agent market, like what they will most likely do with David Price this year. By trading away their major league all-star talent in exchange for top minor league prospects, the Rays have developed one of the strongest farm systems in the league that will hopefully carry their franchise in the upcoming years.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Weekly In-Depth Look: Miami Marlins (13-37)

With a record of 13-37 and team salary of $35,071,900, the Miami Marlins rank last and second-to-last respectively in winning percentage and team salary. After spending millions of dollars during the 2011 offseason on superstar free agents such as Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell, the Marlins struggled mightily throughout all of last year. They finished with a record of 69-93, placing them twenty-fifth in the league for winning percentage and last in their own division. With much anguish from their fan base, the Marlins' management decided to purge their large contracts and go through a small rebuilding process after their horrible 2012 campaign. When they finished trading almost all of their superstars away, most of whom went to the Toronto Blue Jays , in return for several high-rated prospects, the Marlins were left with only one true all star, Giancarlo Stanton. Only twenty-three years old, their right-field powerhouse has MVP-caliber potential, making him one of the most highly-touted trade targets on the market today. Although the Marlins do not seem due for any immediate success, they still seem content on keeping Giancarlo Stanton and using him to build their future team around. Even with the Marlins' bleak Major League roster, they still boast a fairly strong Minor League system with a good amount of promising young stars that could lead their team in a few years. Some of the Marlins' minimal success has been due to injuries to several of their key players, such as Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison, but they still would not be doing much better, mainly due to their lack of skills at the Major League level. Although the Marlins have yet to demonstrate this year that their low payroll does not ensure them a low winning percentage, they have shown, through last year's struggles, that a high payroll does not ensure a high winning percentage and that the key to a successful team is not through spending big on the free agent market.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Update on Success vs. Salary

As of today, only two, the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates, of the bottom five teams in salary rank in the top ten of winning percentage. This is mainly due to recent struggles by the Oakland Athletics and that many of the low salary teams are currently in the rebuilding process, almost assuring them minimal success this season. The Pirates, in fact, rank third in the league for winning percentage and second in the National League. Some low payroll teams, though, rank just outside of the top ten, for example the Colorado Rockies rank eleventh in the league. As for high payroll teams that have not demonstrated success this year, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the second highest team salary in the league, rank twenty-second in the league for winning percentage, and they are last in their respective division. After handing out the highest contract in the league this offseason, to Zack Greinke, and trading with the Boston Red Sox for former all-stars last season, the Dodgers have attempted to battle freak injuries and extreme struggles, but have failed miserably to the tune of a 19-26 record. Another high payroll team that has failed thus far in the season is the Los Angeles Angels, who rank seventh in salary but twenty-fifth in winning percentage. Similar to the Dodgers, the Angels signed a superstar free agent, Josh Hamilton, to a $125 million contract this offseason, which they thought would assume them a rebound from last year's struggles. Much to their misfortune, the Angels have also battled injuries and slumps from several of their key players, giving them a very disappointing 19-27 record, and pushing them to second-to-last in the AL West, standing only in front of the rebuilding Houston Astros. Although it is still fairly early in the season, the success of several low salary teams and struggles of the Dodgers and other high salary teams proves that a high payroll does not ensure a high winning percentage.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekly In-Depth Look: Houston Astros (12-32)

With a total team salary of $17,987,800, the Houston Astros rank last in the league for payroll and are tied for last in winning percentage (.273). Although it may seem that this team does not have a very bright future, it in fact has one of the brightest. Over the past few years, this team has gone into full rebuilding-mode. Shedding away all of their large contracts over the past few years, the Astros have attempted to gather a group of players that they believe will someday win them a championship. Most of these players are in the minor leagues, but that does not take anything away from their talents. Headed by the 23 year-old second base phenomenon, Jose Altuve, the Astros major league team boasts a small group of rising-stars that will ultimately lead their team in the future. Their aces, Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris, have drawn much interest on the trade market, but the Astros seem content on keeping them, along with several of their other core players. One main way the Astros have built up one of the strongest minor league systems in the league is by drafting towards the top of the draft over the past few years. Although the Astros' low payroll is due mainly to their stage of rebuilding, they still cannot go out and sign superstar free-agents like the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers . Due to insufficient funds, the Astros have had to draft cost-controlled prospects in the past, which sometimes made them unable to draft the best player available. Even with this disadvantage, the Astros have put together one of the youngest teams in baseball that could potentially dominate the league in years to come. They clearly have no intent of winning any immediate titles, but the Astros have definitely set themselves on the right path.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

About this Blog

This blog was created as part of an Action Research Project in an effort to expose the success of low-salary baseball teams in recent years. As you can see on the right side of this page, I will follow the relationships between a team's ranking in salary and its winning percentage. Every week, starting on May 20th, I will also do a special report on one of the bottom five teams in salary ranking. My goal for this blog is to show the rest of the world that a high salary does not ensure a high winning percentage, and vice-versa. Like how Moneyball, the movie and book, helped to illustrate one low-salary team's success, the Oakland Athletics  in 2002, I want expose several other team's success, as well as the Athletics' success in more recent years. I hope you enjoy my future posts and will stick with me over the next couple of weeks.