Big League Chew: Money doesn’t buy wins for Blue Jays


For this edition of Big League Chew, Shaun Doyle (@JaysFromCouch) and I (@MuellerRyan11) wanted to look at Craig Calcaterra (NBC Sports) article on the correlation between payroll and winning, which was inspired by an article by Brian MacPherson’s article in the Providence Journal. We wanted to look at it from a Blue Jays prospective.

RM: Since the end of my college days, I generally try to steer clear of anything to do with stats, but this article really caught my eye. My stats teacher had a saying, “there are lies, dam lies, and then there are stats.” The fun thing about stats is the ability to skew them anyway you want and paint the picture you want the public to see. Prior to the 2012 off-season Jays fans whined and complained about managements refusal to add payroll and how the Jays could win if Rogers would just spend like the Yankees. Now the Jays have the 10th largest payroll and they are a .400 team (May was an outlier). 

SD: The Miami deal did indeed add payroll. But, what KIND of payroll? Obviously, everyone is questioning the return on investment. I think spending money is a slippery slope. Once you go down the rabbit hole, it is difficult to come back. The Red Sox keep unloading and then reloading big contracts. It’s almost in their DNA at this point. I don’t think that backing up the Brinks truck to every player available is a guarantee of winning. But, when big time players are available, they can help. There are those that fill needs. To throw a blanket statement and “policy” out there is just silly. You have to be smart about spending money. That means not throwing it around like you’re in a hip hop video. But, it also means actually spending money. What is the point of going to an auction if you’re just going to sit on your paddle?

Make it rain 

RM: I read this B/R article in December about the success of long-term contracts  and the success rate of these contracts aren’t very good. With the elimination or the drastic reduction of PED in baseball, we can expect to see less and less star players putting up elite stats into their late 30’s.

Also, the recent trend of locking up young talent to long-term deals will put more onus on drafting and developing. This means that Alex should quickly ink Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchison, and even Daniel Norris to long-term deals.(I said as much in a three part series)

SD: I agree that we want to lock up those guys. It’s a good idea because the longer you wait, the more expensive they get…. Assuming they live up to the hype. If they do, it’s genius. Of course, it could also go all “Ricky Romero“.

But, I maintain that even locking up these guys, money will still need to be spent outside the organization.

I Alps don’t like the waiting for your young stars to make up the most dominant rotation in baseball. It’s like staring at the sky waiting for a double rainbow. It could happen. But what are you missing while you wait?

RM: That is the risk every team takes when signing any players…young or old. Rickey was a good signing but who could have known….Look at Josh Hamilton. He got a monster deal and look at his production thus far. Jose Reyes is signed to a long-term deal and has been very consistent, despite the option of many so-called Blue Jays fans. Signing our young players to long-term deals will allow Alex to keep his young players for longer. It will also allow him to utilize team friendly contracts in trade talks when there is a better option in Triple-A.

Last Word

RM: It isn’t about how much you spend, it is who you spend it on. The Jays should consider locking up some of their young guns like the Rays have. One less position for AA to improve, which leaves him more time to find a second baseman.

SD: I agree. The key is deciding WHO to spend the money on. I don’t think anyone expected Romero to fall off the face of the earth. Which is why locking up young pitching is a gamble. One that has to be made, though. But, even if the Blue Jays do that, at some point, they’re still going to need to dip into free agency and trades. I don’t care how good you are at drafting, you can’t draft 25 guys to get you to the promised land.