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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Does More Spending Lead To More Wins

Originally written for publishing on May 14, 2013.

Every year at the beginning of spring training, everyone debates on who were the winners of the winter offseason. Every spring, all the writers and columnist debate on who had the biggest signings of the offseason and who made the smartest trades during the winter. Everyone predicts what team will do the best during the season and who will come out on top and by the end of October; all those predictions never come into fruition as there is always a team that nobody speaks of that comes out of nowhere.

This year will be no different as all the talk in spring training was about the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers. These three teams made the biggest moves of the offseason and were all considered to be locks to not only make the playoffs but advance pretty far once in the playoffs.

The Blue Jays made two blockbuster trades during the offseason when they traded many young minor leaguers to the Miami Marlins for shortstop Jose Reyes, righty pitcher Josh Johnson, lefty pitcher Mark Buerhle and catcher John Buck who then flipped Buck and more minor leaguers to the Mets for reigning Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey. If the trades weren’t enough, they also signed outfielder Melky Cabrera, coming off a great but PED tainted season.

The moves seemed to have positioned the Blue jays at the top of the A.L East and seemed to assure them their first playoff birth since 1993 and many columnists predicted that they would win the World Series. Then everyone seemed to blast Marlins Owner, Jeffery Loria, for blowing up his team after asking the city for millions of dollars for a new ballpark after one season. Loria said the team didn’t work and all the money he threw into the team was a waste as it was a disappointing season and everyone still blasted him. A little over a month into the new 2013 season and Loria seems to be the smartest one of all as the Blue Jays are sitting at the bottom of the A.L. East with Reyes on the DL and Johnson and Buerhle with ERAs over 5.00. Dickey is also struggling mightily on the mound with a 5.06 ERA while dealing with some shoulder problems.

The team to join the Blue Jays in the World Series according to most columnists in the spring was the Dodgers. With a newfound money pit, the Dodgers went out there and spent all they could on top free agent pitcher Zack Greinke, $147 million guaranteed over six years, and Korean lefty pitcher Hun-Jin Ryu, $36 million. These moves seemed to made the Dodgers a lock to go to the World Series but they find themselves at the bottom of the N.L. West just like the Blue Jays. Greinke is on the DL after suffering a broken collarbone in a fight with San Diego Padres’ outfielder Carlos Quentin, Ryu has been decent but their offense is struggling and have lost nine out of their last 11 games with two streaks of six or more games lost in a row.

The other team in the Los Angeles/Orange County area who spent big for the second consecutive year in a row was the Angels when they signed the top offensive player on the market, outfielder Josh Hamilton. A year after signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year contract, the Angels gambled on Hamilton for five years after their failed attempt to re-sign Greinke. With rookie sensation Mike Trout at the top of the lineup and Hamilton protecting Pujols in the middle of the lineup, the Angels looked loaded to take the A.L. West and maybe more but are sitting in fourth place with their worst start in franchise history and would be in last place if it weren’t for the lowly Houston Astros joining their division.

What these teams seem to miss is that spending money hardly ever works. They tried to emulate the New York Yankees to be as successful as them but they didn’t realize that when the Yankees were at their best, they were consisted of mostly smart trades, low level signings and a core of prospects; Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettite. Once the Yankees started to spend ridiculous money on Jason Giambi, Gray Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and even Alex Rodriguez is when they started to come up short and went on an eight-year World Series drought. They didn’t win again until 2009 when they started to make smart signings, smart trades and build from their farm system again when they signed CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira and called-up Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner.

What big offseason signings and trades don’t account for is the chemistry a team needs to get to the mountaintop. As the first baseman for the two-time World Series Champions in last three years San Francisco Giants Brandon Belt said after being asked about the Dodgers big spending, “Money can’t buy you chemistry.”

In order for a team to be successful is to build a foundation through the draft and a strong farm system, sign players who will come in and help you win immediately and trade for players that fit your team and fit the chemistry of your team. Money doesn’t guarantee you anything other than headaches when those players get old and expensive, i.e. Rodriguez and soon to be Pujols. Next time a team goes out and spends a lot of money, remember every team that has failed with the model and bet on the team that has chemistry instead.

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