Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Dodgers and Failures of bloated Payroll Teams

With the New York Mets win in Game Five of the NLDS, the Los Angeles Dodgers are again eliminated from the playoffs in the early rounds.  The reality is the Dodgers payroll is 60 million dollars more than the combined payrolls of both the NLCS teams in 2015: Chicago Cubs and New York Mets.

We return to the old conundrum in Baseball, something that hasn’t changed for decades on end: you can’t buy a World Series Title.  Whether its George Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees high payrolls, or post-2008 World Series Philadelphia Phillies overpaying half their roster, or the Rupert Murdoch’s FOX failed ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baseball history has shown us that throwing money at the problem doesn’t “fix” losing.

Despite all the hundreds of millions of dollars blown on players over the last 25 years, still the lessons of history are never learned.  The 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers arguably have more talent on their roster than both the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets combined, but talent alone does not win championships. Remember the 2003 Florida Marlins and 1990 Cincinnati Reds beat teams that were arguably “more talented”.


The 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers insisted that this year would be different by acquiring numerous players such as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Alex Wood to add to a team headlined by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Adrian Gonzalez.  Throw in young talent such as Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig, this team is on paper one of the best in baseball.  So again, we delve into the question that has been asked of so many talented rosters that did not win World Series titles in years past: What Happened?!?

The answer is both simple and complicated.  The Simple explanation is the answer to the question: “Will big dollar free agency signings and exotic trades create buzz and build a roster full of talent ball players?”  Neither of these actions will create chemistry nor solve every problem. 

Most of these moves are made to cover up roster weaknesses and place overemphasis on certain elements of the game.  Having a roster full of great pitchers or hitters doesn’t equal postseason success.  Having a roster full of players who feed off each other wins championships.  Every player on a roster is meant to complement other players, putting the team in the best position to be successful. 

Now for the complicated answer. The 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers do not complement each other.  This may sound crazy but lets break it down:

-Not enough pitching depth behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. 

Sorry but Brett Anderson, Mike Bolsinger, and Carlos Friars do not exactly strike fear in opponents.  Even when the 1990’s Atlanta Braves were led by Cy Young Award winners Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, they still had John Smoltz, Steve Avery and Denny Neagle to add depth to the rotation.


-Too many similar players in the batting order.

Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins are offensively very similar players.  The same can be said of Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson offensive skills.  Also, why so many left-handed hitters? There are eight players on the Dodgers roster who all would bat left versus right handed pitching.  Furthermore, there are only TWO players on the roster with over 100 at bats on the season with a batting average higher than .300: Corey Seager and Enrique Hernandez.


Team sports like Baseball and Football need complementary players on the roster in order get to be successful in the postseason.  You cannot always depend on the superstars to come through every time.  Let’s be brutally honest about this oddity:  offensive greatness in baseball is signified by being successful at least 30 percent of the time as hitters.  There is NO other sport in which such a low percentage number of success can equal “greatness”; so, in Baseball, it is very important to have several players with different skill sets.

This offseason, the Dodgers need to take an objective look at their roster to assess the short and long term future.  This team as constructed is not setup to win a World Series title, and the way the franchise has been going about building this team has not yielded any success beyond merely reaching the postseason.  A team with high expectations like the Los Angeles Dodgers owe their fans more than being “above average”. Spending tens of millions on numerous players has to add up to wins, not just jersey sales.  I’m not saying the Dodgers need to “blow it up” and start from scratch with their team.  Instead, the time is now to find a new mold and throw out the old formula.  The time has come to take a look at other teams around Major League Baseball and learn from their success, learn from their own failures, then apply it to their own team. 


“Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

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