Movin’ On Down

In what I would say is a surprise to most Red Sox fans, the Sox no longer are the second-highest paid team in baseball.

Here’s the Top 5 payrolls, courtesy the Globe.

  1. N.Y. Yankees — $209,081,579
  2. Detroit — 138,685,197
  3. New York Mets — 138,293,378
  4. Boston — 133,440,037
  5. Chicago White Sox — 121,152,667

Also, consider the bottom five:

  • Washington — 54,961,000
  • Pittsburgh — 49,365,283
  • Oakland — 47,967,126
  • Tampa Bay — 43,820,598
  • Florida — 21,836,500

What these 10 payrolls tell me is that it remains hypocritical for fans of teams in Detroit, say, or Chicago to complain about the alleged Yankee-Red Sox duopoly. True, the Yankees lead the second-place Tigers by more money than 11 teams’ payrolls, but that hasn’t exactly led to more championships, has it? Yet the Tigers, one of those "poor" teams just a few years ago, are now spending loads of money in their quest for a world title.

Also, it highlights the flagrant abuse of the luxury tax and revenue-sharing system MLB has in place to help small-market teams. The Rays and A’s are exceptions, as they seem to have concrete plans in place. But $21 million for the Marlins? Less than $50 million for Pittsburgh, or less than $55 million for a Nationals team that just opened a new ballpark? Never mind catastrophes like the Twins, Orioles and Rangers, who pay nothing to their players, receive nothing in return, yet (presumably) rake in money that goes nowhere but the pockets of the teams’ ownership.

Owners need to be held accountable for the money they’re receiving from teams like the Red Sox and Yankees. On this, Hank Steinbrenner and I agree. We are seeing an opposite effect from what was intended — rich teams in big markets are spending more and more money, but poor teams in small markets are content with mediocrity in exchange for the free money provided by the rich.

12 comments… add one
  • Paul, your second graf has been my rant for a couple of years. If you’re gonna get the luxury tax money, spend the luxury tax money. On payroll or player development.
    One of more eggregious and disgusting offenders is Kansas City and owner/CEO David Glass come from WalMart money. He’s not poor. But his team is 25th of 30 in payroll at $58M. And it’s not like the money is being spent on player development.

    I'm Bill McNeal April 2, 2008, 1:09 pm
  • Paul, your second graf has been my rant for a couple of years. If you’re gonna get the luxury tax money, spend the luxury tax money. On payroll or player development.
    One of more eggregious and disgusting offenders is Kansas City and owner/CEO David Glass, who comes from WalMart money. He’s not poor. But his team is 25th of 30 in payroll at $58M. And it’s not like the money is being spent on player development.

    I'm Bill McNeal April 2, 2008, 1:19 pm
  • Where is the $51,111,111.11 accounted for?

    Mike April 2, 2008, 1:49 pm
  • In the next round of negotiating, the owners should offer up the taxes as payroll for something equally significant from the players. Question is: What is that?

    A YF April 2, 2008, 1:52 pm
  • @ Mike – it’s not. Not last year. Not this year. Just like the Yankees 25 million for Igawa.

    A YF April 2, 2008, 1:54 pm
  • The $51.1 mil certainly isnt accounted for here. A valid point, as it serves to reinforce the areas in which the Sox and Yankees do utilize their financial resources that dont show up in the payroll figures. Id be interested to see how it looks when all of the baseball operations are accounted for ie- scouting, draft bonuses, foreign player signings. I have a feeling that we would be seeing a separation from our two teams and the rest. These expenditures are precisely what has allowed the sox to lower their payroll and the yankees may be able to do the same next year. (Not that they need will need to with the new cash cow stadium)
    I echo the frustration about the lower market teams which are simply taking money from other teams and putting in their owners’ pockets while declaring poverty. Considering that if a full roster was making just under the league average of $3 mil would give a full roster of $75 mil, that tells you how much these teams are underspending on their product. That coupled with the $6 bil or whatever the figure was for MLB’s gross last year, makes me wonder what the hell is going to allow these teams to act like they do. Thank god Im a yankee fan!

    sam-YF April 2, 2008, 1:57 pm
  • The Hardball Times annual this year had a great article that showed that money spent on scouting and development, as well as on overslot bonuses for draft picks, are far and away the best investments a team can make.
    The Yankees and Sox spend a lot of money in these areas, but the main difference is that it’s still a low-cost area overall — every team should be able to spend that much; the ones that don’t are robbing their fans, in my opinion.

    Paul SF April 2, 2008, 2:07 pm
  • Absolutely, Paul. The fact that the Red Sox and Yankees have had such strong farm teams in the last few years truly shows how valuable scouting and development are.

    Atheose April 2, 2008, 2:19 pm
  • Exactly, Paul.
    The way I see it, teams should be spending their money mainly on two areas. Scouting/development, for one, and then keeping the talented young players they scouted and developed. Not only is this the most cost-effective way to build a team by far, what with the ludicrous salaries being paid to mediocre-at-best free agents and the general lack of quality in the free agent market, but it’s also the best way to build up a fanbase – who doesn’t prefer to root for kids brought up through the farm system? Sure, us Sox and Yanks fans can enjoy some of the biggest and best free agents, but we’re still all going gaga over Jacoby/Buchholz/Hughes/Joba and company.
    With the amount of revenue sharing money floating around the game, other teams can damn well afford to do the same kind of work on their farm systems even if they aren’t picking first every year like the Devil Rays. The next time a team refuses to draft a top talent because of “signability” issues should be the last.

    Micah-SF April 2, 2008, 2:22 pm
  • (and yes, I refuse to call them the “Rays”)

    Micah-SF April 2, 2008, 2:24 pm
  • Is there really a way to ensure owners spend more money on their teams instead of hoarding it?
    I’m sure they are actually spending the luxury tax money on their teams… it’s just that they use it to replace the money they would have normally spent on salary or player development. The spending and payroll remain the same, only now a good portion comes from the league instead of their own pocket. They’ll just spend less.

    doug YF April 2, 2008, 5:32 pm
  • it’s ironic [and funny] how the arguments have changed now that the yanks are not alone in the 100 mil club, while they are admittedly alone in the 200 mil club…it’ll be interesting to see how the gap looks over the next couple of years as the yanks shed some of their more cumbersome contracts…and it’s good to see other teams invest in their product…the sox are only a journeyman away from reclaiming 2nd place paul, but i know that’s not your point…other teams are now playing in the same sandbox…someone will remind me that the yanks haven’t been able to “buy” a championship for 8 years now, but that’s not the point…they have continued to be competitive and “in the running”, at least giving fans hope every year, in part because they have invested in players, some of whom actually started in the organization…the change in thinking is that you can’t win by doing that [acquiring high priced former all stars via free agency] exclusively and depleting the farm…folding in younger players and allowing them to develop to supplement the established guys is a better way, but it requires patience, something the yanks haven’t always shown [understatement of the day]…and i’m not naive, so i realize that the yanks will probably always be at the top of the heap in spending, unless something drastic happens…i do think the yankees’ change in philosophy toward younger players and shying away from a free agent here or there can’t help but slow the growth of their payroll, assuming they stick with the plan…i very much agree with those of you arguing the luxury tax abuse by so-called less-advantaged teams, which i think was only the secondary point of the post…of course teams should use that money to be more competitive, that’s the point of the system, but there’s nothing compelling them to do that…there’s plenty of money to be made even if your team stinks…you just charge 10 bucks for a beer and ride the backs of the teams responsible for creating fan interest and generating the shared revenue…

    dc April 3, 2008, 9:51 am

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