Does Money Equal MLB Success? Howabout Smarts?

August 15, 2009

Sports radio in Chicago is going bat-shit about how poorly the Cubs are doing.  The Sox, btw, are not exactly KILLING out there either, but it seems to always come back to the money.  “The Cubs spend so much money, there are higher expectations,” say some.  I wouldn’t disagree.

But it’s not like the White Sox are scraping the bottom of the barrel.  They’re actually one of the biggest spenders in the league as well… and have made some expensive moves just recently, trading for Jake Peavy and flat-out buying Alex Rios.

Annnnyway, the “spending” criticism is the same reason most people really dislike the Yankees — as the tend to buy players.  Conversely, it’s the reason people tend to support small market teams that make smart moves… the Marlins, the Rays, and of course, the money-ballin‘ A’s.

There seems to be a sentiment that “buying” a winning team is inauthentic, when in fact, it’s really how the game is played.  I’ve pulled the ’08, and (projected) ’09 team wins and wanted to compare which teams get the most bang for their buck, which teams pay the most to still suck:

So.  Here’s a scattergraph that shows all MLB team salaries compared to their 08 and 09 (projected) wins:

Guess Which Ones Are The Yankee Ones.

The findings were not that wowing.  Part of that, obvs, is because I suck at math, but the trend seems to say if you spend 50 to 100 mil a year on player salaries, you could win anywhere from 58 to 90+ games.  HA!  Thanks, statistics.  Like that helps.  More interesting though, spending LESS than 50 million yielded similar results to spending a little less than 3-times that amount.

Let’s break it down a bit more.

The average number of wins it took to get into the playoffs was:

  • 93 games

So, in the spirit of competition, here’s the average total salary cost for all teams that won (or are projected to win) 90+ games in ’08 and ’09:

  • $106,744,830 (13 Teams)

Here’s the average total salary cost for all teams that won (or are projected to win) 93+ games on ’08 and ’09:

  • $117,918,703 (8 Teams)

But!  This is fuzzy math!  If $ 118,000,000 makes you “playoff-worthy”, we wouldn’t even HAVE a playoff this year.  The 4 teams that spent that much money in ’09 – the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, and Red Sox — include the sub-.500 New York Mets who are certainly not going to make the cut.

So, if the Mets spend that much and still suck, it makes you wonder — who are the most and least-efficient spending teams.  We’re going to look at the total wins vs. total salary in 08 and 09…

The Best – Cost Per Win

  1. Marlins $346,580.03
  2. Rays $583,294.12  (Lost in the World Series)
  3. Pirates $735,252.95
  4. Twins $735,965.13 (Missed playoffs by one game [ed. note: by one one hit])
  5. Athletics $748,077.70

The Worst – Cost Per Win

  1. Yankees $2,161,530.10
  2. Mets $1,747,504.19
  3. Tigers $1,587,633.73
  4. Mariners $1,481,209.80
  5. Cubs $1,405,588.00 (Made Playoffs)

Weird, eh? Lots of spending will not gurantee you a spot in the playoffs, but spending efficiently won’t really help that much either.  To be completely transparent, six of the eight teams that made it into the playoffs in 2008 were below the 40th Percentile in salary-to-games won, so, I guess spending — smartly or otherwise –does increase your chances of making it to October.

Yo Cubs, Yo

October 3, 2008

Despite this comic making 0 sense, I had to post it. (Found it on The Barnacle Press comic archive).


I digress.  By now I think even Cubs fans can admit that the “Go Cubs Go” theme is getting a bit obnoxious.    Recently, Eddie Vedder’s Cubs tribute, “Someday We’ll Go All the Way” was all the rage, but as Chicago radio played that one into the ground, North and Southsiders alike are likely to groan when it comes on.

Anyway, hip-hopper Verbal Kent felt that perhaps it was his time to throw his Cubs ode into the ring.  Not particularly bad, not particularly good, and suspiciously leaking online in early October.  Check it on GoWhereHipHop.

Also, since Baseball and Mixtapes go together like, um, A.J. Pierzynski and anyone else, Greg Kot has put togther a playlist for both the White Sox and the Cubs playoff seasons on his Trib page:


North Side:

  • “For the Love of Ivy,” Gun Club: Wonder if singer Jeffrey Pierce ever visited Wrigley?
  • “One Hundred Years,” the Cure: Even Robert Smith realizes 1908 was a long time ago.
  • “Trail of Tears,” Guadalcanal Diary: How else to explain the last 99 years?
  • “Break the Curse,” Iron Savior: German metal band tries to break the “Billy Goat” hex cast in 1945.
  • “Waiting for an Alibi,” Thin Lizzy: In 2003 it was Steve Bartman, in 2008 it will be …
  • “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request,” Steve Goodman: One for the diehards.
  • “My Wasted Friends,” Ike Reilly: One for the Bleacher Bums.
  • “Even the Losers,” Tom Petty: “… get lucky sometime.”
  • “Louie Louie,” the Kingsmen: Bet it wouldn’t be difficult to persuade Piniella to lift a cold one while this one is blaring from the P.A. after the North Siders win.
  • “Four Horsemen,” The Clash: The Cubs win the World Series? Surely the Apocalypse would be next.


South Side:

  • “Winning Ugly,” the Rolling Stones: The Tony LaRussa-era motto still applies.
  • “Godzilla,” Blue Oyster Cult: For the big mashers – Thome, Quentin, Junior, Dye, Konerko.
  • “Have a Drink on Me,” AC/DC: A blue-collar song for a blue-collar ‘hood.
  • “Dead End Street,” Lou Rawls:  Should be Ken “Hawk” Harrelson’s theme song —
  • “They call it the Windy City because of the Hawk, the almighty Hawk.”
  • “The Yankee Flipper,” the Baseball Project: An homage to ex-Sox pitcher “BlackJack” McDowell, as sung by rocker Steve Wynn.
  • “Bark at the Moon,” Ozzy Osbourne: From one Oz to another.
  • “My Big Mouth,” Oasis: About Ozzie? About Sox hater Jay Mariotti? You decide.
  • “My Fist, Your Face,” Aerosmith: A.J. has a way of stirring up harsh feelings in the opposition; just ask Michael Barrett.
  • “Stronger,” Kanye West: A South Sider’s song of celebration.
  • “Twistin’ the Night Away,” Sam Cooke:  And another one.

While it looks less-and-less likely that a “Redline” cross-town series is likely, I’ll leave you with a little preview of what to expect in the Second City if that does, indeed, happen.