It’s not always easy being a Yankees’ fan. Whether you remember four titles in the 90’s or one in 2009, nobody is ever going to sympathize about the Yankees’ lack of winning lately.
Nobody is going to care when they don’t sign the big free agents (basically every single one since 2009), or if they have injuries and overcome them every year, or if they don’t post the highest posting fee (like with: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, Yu Darvish and now Ryu Hyun-jin).
The Yankees will never get the benefit of the doubt and with a $209 million dollar payroll, for the most part, they don’t deserve it.
But with every fire sale and failed spending spree, Major League Baseball proves over and over again how spending money does not equal winning. In fact, it no longer equals guaranteed contention or even respectability and competitiveness.
The most recent teams to go on spending sprees since the Yankees executed one and won the World Series in 2009 have been: the Phillies, Marlins, Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers and now the Blue Jays. Take another look at those teams.
The Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and increased payroll by $74 million dollars on Opening Day, 2012. They went from losing the World Series, to losing the NLCS to losing the NLDS to failing to make the playoffs in consecutive years as their payroll increased each season.
The Angels have raised payroll each of the past four years and $42 million dollars overall since 2007. They have not won a playoff game since 2009 and after acquiring both C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols last year, failed to make the playoffs, even with the emergence of MVP candidate, Mike Trout, who cost virtually nothing and trades for Dan Haren and Zack Greinke.
The Red Sox might be one of the best examples of big spending gone poorly. What was once a fanbase of romanticism and endless torture has always remained the biggest critics of the Yankees. Sox fans hate Yankees’ fans for their “arrogance”, “elitism” and the team’s ability to spend “recklessly”.
So what happened next? The Sox won two titles in four years, they saw the fanbase get commercialized with pink hats and corporate sponsors, Fenway became a trend and the fanbase became a clone of New York’s, expecting to win every year without fail and rubbing its success in every other fanbases’ faces.
In total, though inconsistent and before a blockbuster fire sale, the Sox increased payroll by $55 million dollars from the end of the 2006 season before blowing the roster back to the stone age when it realized the massive spending of the past few seasons produced no playoff wins since 2008 and a 90+ loss team in 2012.
They didn’t exactly copy everything about the Yankees, but fans are more excited than ever that Boston got rid of the players it spent money on to begin with.
The Dodgers were on the other end of the Boston firesale and in one season acquired the salaries of: Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and even, Nick Punto. Though the 2012 payroll was actually three million dollars less than it was in 2007, the Dodgers go into 2013 with nearly $150 million dollars owed to just 10 players and a projected payroll of 192 million overall, an $84 million dollar increase from 2007.
The story is not yet written on how this turns out for Los Angeles, but it will have to start by making the playoffs, something it failed to do in 2012 while watching its arch rival, the San Francisco Giants, win the World Series for the second time in three years.
The Marlins “moved” to Miami and went on a spending spree, shedding the persona of the “little engine that could” and turning into a bona fide mid-market team with high expectations. It was likely a feeling every Marlins fan who ever existed longed to feel. Their team was finally willing to spend money on putting a product on the field while spending years and years hating the Yankees for doing the same thing.
Of course, in 2007, the Marlins had a 30 million dollar payroll and by 2012 it was over 101 million for the first time in franchise history.
The Marlins took their new-found ability to spend and signed: Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and then promptly lost over 90 games, just like the Red Sox, and if not for a late September surge, it would have been just like the Phillies.
Miami has since traded away: Anibel Sanchez, John Buck, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and fired its manager, Ozzie Guillen. Not because it couldn’t sustain spending, but because its evil, greedy owners don’t want to, despite taxpayers funding the majority of the brand new stadium with the expectations owners would spend on fielding a competitive team.
Don’t be surprised to see over 100 losses in 2013 after raising payroll by $50 million between 2011 and 2012.
That leaves the Blue Jays, the one team with no track record of failure so far and like the Dodgers, the team to go on a “shopping spree” through trade and not through free agency.
The Jays’ payroll was only 2 million more in 2012 than it was in 2007 but next year will owe over 42 million dollars to all the players they just signed, bringing the increase in payroll likely to over 45 million dollars in the past five years.
Blue Jays: +45 million
Red Sox (until firesale): + 55 million
Dodgers: +84 million
Phillies: +74 million
Marlins (until firesale): +71 million
Angels: + 42 million
To reiterate, six teams have gone on big spending sprees since 2009 and raised payroll over $40 million dollars since the end of 2006 or beginning of 2007 and not one of them has improved the team, with just the Phillies even winning so much as a playoff game in that span, but getting worse and worse each season in the process.
They began 2012 at $209 million dollars, still, significantly more than any team mentioned. They are also operating on a savings budget to lower the payroll to $189 million dollars.
This not only means decreasing the payroll by $20 million from 2012 to 2014, but the plan for New York will be to have the same payroll on Opening Day 2014, as it did on Opening Day, 2007.
It’s impossible to tell at this point playing in a division where all five teams are now legitimate playoff contenders, but even in 2009 when the Yankees signed: A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, payroll actually lowered by eight million dollars from the year before with all of the money coming off the books that off-season.
The Yankees made a lot of mistakes in the early part of last decade, signing stars left and right and raising payroll nearly $100 million dollars from 2001 ($112 million) to 2008 (@209 million), but those days seem to be in the past.
The largest market in the country with owners who have always demonstrated a will to field a winning product will always be among the leaders in payroll and fans of the team will never and should never expect sympathy.
But by 2014, the Yankees will likely no longer be the top payroll in baseball and over the past five years, plenty of teams around baseball have tried to do the exact same things that annoyed their fans about New York.
They are cheering idly by while their teams do the same exact things always being blamed on the Yankees or discredited to the Yankees in regards to their winning.
At least six teams have attempted to be the thing their fans have criticized for years, and all of them so far have failed miserably in the process.
But hey, it sounds so intelligent to say “money buys championships” to any fan who’s team hasn’t tried it yet.