MLB: Big Money Spending vs. Front-Line Starting Pitching
Many fans of America’s pastime believe that “money buys championships.”
Whether or not you're a subscriber to the theory, the amount of cash thrown around in the offseason has sparked considerable debate.
Last fall, the San Francisco Giants captured the World Series title with top-tier pitching, not an abundance of multimillion-dollar outfield players. Some might say, “Pitching trumps hitting, each and every time.”
The New York Yankees' roster is a prime example of an excessive payroll coming up short of a World Series championship. After not reaching the Fall Classic last year, the Yankees' payroll enters the 2011 season in excess of $196 million.
In 2010, the Yankees fell victim to a much-maligned, over-paid pitching staff. C.C. Sabathia carried his weight, but A.J. Burrnett’s $82 million contract left fans wondering whether the organization’s money was being put to good use.
This offseason, the Yankees added catcher Russell Martin and set-up man Rafael Soriano to the ranks of their near-$200 million payroll. Those moves most likely will improve the lineup and bullpen, but New York struggled with front-line pitching beyond Sabathia’s outings.
And now, the Yankees cannot rely on veteran Andy Pettitte. The lefty Texan called it a career this winter having won more postseason games than any pitcher in MLB history.
For the Yankees, the increased payroll doesn't make things any easier. With first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Carl Crawford arriving in Beantown, the rival Boston Red Sox added the top-two free-agent position players this offseason.
There's no doubt Boston upgraded their day-to-day lineup with two hard-hitting sluggers. Many pundits have penciled the Red Sox in as American League East favorites.
Perhaps the Red Sox are taking a different approach to the saying, “Money buys championships.” Instead of upgrading the pitching staff or adding support in the bullpen, the Red Sox management followed the common fan slogan, “Chicks dig the long ball.”
After all, somebody other than David Ortiz has to send baseballs flying over Fenway Park’s Green Monster. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford seem to fit that part, not to mention each player’s athletic fielding ability as well.
Then again, past World Series winners have proven quality pitching outlasts powerful hitting. The San Francisco Giants showed that precise pitching coupled with timely hitting is the ultimate recipe to secure a World Series ring.
Just ask the Philadelphia Phillies.
Philadelphia's shortcomings were revealed when its so-called “timely hitting” ran out, and after coming up short the past two seasons, forming a dominant pitching rotation became the main priority.
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With the additions of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt over the last two years, the Phillies appear primed for another World Series run.
As Philadelphia wrapped up its free-agent acquisitions, its 2011 payroll exceeded $161 million.
Although it's only spring training and the World Series is eight months away, the Phillies appear to be covering all the bases. Not many teams can compete with their pitching staff, long-ball sluggers and sure-handed fielders.
Then again, there are only a handful of teams that can afford to spend that kind of money to win a World Series.
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