Final 2013 MLB Thoughts

Quick analysis of the remaining MLB post-season match-ups, using payroll (total amounts & value received) as the best determining metrics:


Dodgers $220,395,196 (now listed as #1 in MLB. NYY now #2, adjusted down to $203,445,586[!])
Better starting pitching is the real difference here, with Clayton Kershaw ($11.75M–best pitcher in baseball), Zack Greinke ($21M, a #2 starter), and Hyun-Jin Ryu ($3.3M–bargain!).
The enigmatic Ricky Nolasco ($11.5M) is their #4 starter.
The LAD lineup would be significantly better than STL, if they had CF Matt Kemp ($20M).
Even without Kemp they are clearly better; with Hanley Ramirez ($15.5M), Adrian Gonzalez ($22M), and rookie sensation Yasiel Puig (N/A, but surely a HUGE bargain!).
Andre Ethier ($13.5M) supplies always valuable OBP, even if he lacks SLG.
Carl Crawford ($21M) is a complete overpay with his lack of both OBP (.329) & SLG (.407).
The only position the LAD were at or below replacement level in 2013 was catcher.
Josh Beckett ($17M) and Chad Billingsley ($11M), both starting pitchers, are on the 60-day DL. Added in with Matt Kemp, the LAD have $48M on the DL for the post-season.
They also have another $10M or so in the minors between Edinson Volquez, Jerry Hairston Jr and Carlos Marmol.

Cardinals $102,790,110 (now listed as #14)
As you can see, STL has less than half the payroll of the LAD.
Their best chance of competing with the LAD is to get better value.
Unfortunately there is too much wasted payroll here also.
Adam Wainwright/Chris Carpenter should be thought of as one pitcher, because they are never both healthy at the same time. That’s 25M/year for a NL ace, who this year is Adam Wainwright.
The rest of the STL rotation is a huge drop-off with Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha; each of whom earned around $500,000 in 2013.
Also on the DL are SS Rafael Furcal ($7.5M), SP Jaime Garcia ($5.9M) and RP Jason Motte ($4.5).
SP Jake Westbrook ($8.75M) is in the minors.
Matt Holiday ($16.2M) is STL’s HoFer, still holding on to his prime.
Yadier Molina ($14.2M) is the best catcher in baseball.
2B Matt Carpenter ($500,000–bargain!) is a championship player, along with RF Carlos Beltran ($13M).
Jon Jay for $524,000, works in CF.
The problem offensively is that the Cardinals are faking it at 3B, SS & 1B.

LAD should win this series easily. We’ll see.


Red Sox $140,657,500 (now 5th)
BOS was the best team in baseball in 2013.  That happened because management took advantage of good fortune by unloading 3 really bad contracts (plus Nick Punto), in a once-in-a-lifetime deal with the LAD at the 2012 trade deadline. It also helped to fire Bobby Valentine.
With that money saved, BOS went out and paid top dollar to fill holes with SS Stephen Drew (N/A, but likely somewhere around $10M), RF Shane Victorino ($13M), and 1B Mike Napoli ($5M, huge bargain).
DH David Ortiz ($14.5M), 2B Dustin Pedroia ($10.25M), and CF Jacoby Ellsbury ($9M) drive this lineup that has good hitters at every position except 3B.
BOS lacks a true ace, as homegrown SP’s Clay Buchholz ($5.75M) and Jon Lester ($11.6M) profile as #2 starters, up to this point.
John Lackey ($16M), Jake Peavy ($16M) and Ryan Dempster ($13.25) add rotation depth, but are all overpays.
BOS has about $20M combined on the DL and in the minors for the post-season.

Tigers $148,414,500 (now 4th)
DET’s advantage over BOS would be their pitching. How much of it is real is questionable, as DET played in the weakest AL division, which artificially elevates their numbers in comparison to BOS, who won the toughest division in all of North American sports.
Justin Verlander ($20M) is a true ace.
Max Scherzer ($6.7M) is a nice 2013 Cy Young bargain.
Anibal Sanchez ($8.8M) has the stuff to handle the BOS line-up.
DET’s line-up starts with HoFer Miguel Cabrera ($21M) and 1B Prince Fielder ($23M), who is slipping fast and soon will be very overpaid for many years to come.
Other useful parts include DH Victor Martinez ($13M), SS Jhonny Peralta ($6M-underrated), and Omar Infante ($4M)–also underrated.
DET’s outfield is well-below average, with low OBP and SLG. CF Austin Jackson ($3.5M) is a minor bargain, but RF Torii Hunter ($12M) is an overpay. The Tigers are faking it in LF.
DET has around $6.5M wasted on the DL & the minors, which is by far the lowest total of any remaining playoff team.

BOS is the favorite, but DET’s payroll gives them a fair chance.

This is not about predicting a winner, it’s about understanding what’s going on.

2013 Season Awards:

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout
AL CY: Max Sherzer
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen
NL CY: Clayton Kershaw

The best manager in MLB is Joe Maddon.

HoF Ballot: Everyone I said last year, plus newcomers: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent.

Remember, you can enjoy baseball without knowing the numbers, but you can’t truly understand it.

2013 Post-Season Baseball

September 29
The TB Rays won a game today, to stay alive in Toronto. They must win tomorrow night in Texas to advance to the Wild Card play-in game, in Cleveland. If they win again, it’s off to Boston for the series opener.

This is why Wil Myers needed to be on TB’s opening day roster.
If you trade away James Shields for the 2012 MiLB Player of the Year, then he must be in the Rays lineup (which always desperately needs him), on opening day.

Owner/management played the arbitration game, and it has likely cost a great 2013 TB Rays team a decent shot at winning the WS. Fans do have a right to be disgusted with that.

TB Rays 2013 player payroll was $58 million. Only the Marlins & Astros spent less. Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, formerly of Goldman Sachs, is worth a reported $800 million.

RF Wil Myers was called up on June 17. The reason owner/management waited so long, was to prevent Myers from becoming a Super Two ($$) arbitration eligible player, after next season. Myers hit .293 with 13 HR & 53 RBI, while batting 3rd or 4th in the lineup, nearly everyday. If Myers is in RF on opening day, the Rays are closer to competing with the Red Sox for the division, than for the WC.

October 2  [after TB wins in Texas & Cleveland]
I’m feeling the TB Rays, while still standing by what I said in my last post.

Here’s another truth, no one in baseball admits: If you don’t win the WC play-in game, then you really didn’t make the playoffs.

October 5
The best team in baseball pounded a tired-looking Rays team last night.
2013 team payrolls according to ESPN:
Boston $140,657,500
TB $57,505,272

When it’s brains vs. $$; money usually wins.

October 5
Team payrolls are a fluid thing in MLB, as owners manipulate & hide where revenue and payroll goes, in order to escape paying income tax.
Today, has the Red Sox total payroll at $157,594,786, with the Rays at $59,070,272.

The difference between the Red Sox & Rays in 2013 total team payroll is around $100,000,000.

That difference is more than total payroll 16 MLB teams; and as a Rays fan, I must say that it’s pretty ridiculous to have to compete against that.

The Rays were eliminated last night, leaving the A’s ($65,447,000) & the Pirates ($66,289,524) as the only Moneyball teams remaining. Both are playing a decisive Game 5 against big-spending teams (the Tigers at $150,471,844, and the Cardinals more modestly at $115,722,085).
The Dodgers have also advanced, with their total payroll of $214,830,909.
I am rooting for the underdogs, but honestly this isn’t very interesting; watching payroll giants slowly crush the life out of short-stacked teams. RS

Postscript [10-10-13]: Both the Pirates & the A’s were completely dominated by big-money starting pitching in their Game 5’s.