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Yoni Monat

Baseball Needs More Balance 18

  • Posted by: Yoni Monat
  • March 23, 2011, 2:14 PM


The New York Yankees have been accused of buying the 2009 World Series. You may be wondering why a similar payroll didn’t buy the 2010 World Series.

Baseball consists of two major elements: skill and luck. However, while skill can be bought, no one has control over luck. Based on wins and club payroll, analysts have concluded that an additional $7 million of payroll was worth one additional win.

At one end of the money spectrum are teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies, clubs that spend well north of $125 million (and over $200 million for the Yankees, who spend money like it’s water). These teams are devoted to putting a winning team on the field and endure paying a luxury tax when their payroll surpasses a certain spending threshold.

Red Sox owner John Henry termed baseball’s revenue-sharing system as “welfare”. The system puts money in the pockets of low-spending teams’ owners. Teams can spend however much their owner wishes due to the lack of a salary cap.

At the other end are the low-spending teams, which are frequently in small markets. These teams are the beneficiaries of the revenue-sharing system. Clearly, spending money on payroll will more than likely improve a team’s winning percentage. The different motivations and resources of clubs can give fans hope for the season or can force fans to endure another year of frustration. A way to bridge the astronomical gap that exists between payrolls is to institute both a salary cap and a salary floor.

The goal of the salary cap/floor is to increase the competitive balance among teams. General managers would be forced to assemble well-rounded teams without relying on big-ticket superstars. Developing a productive farm system would become necessary. With wise personnel decisions, even Pirates fans could have realistic hope. Additionally, fans would develop more team loyalty as marquee players would have less of a financial opportunity to skip town—humungous offers from competing clubs would be less frequent.

The salary cap should be $100 million with a floor of $70 million. This range encompasses approximately the middle third of 2011 team payrolls. Close-fisted teams such as the Pirates and Padres would be forced to increase their payroll, while the Yankees and Red Sox would need to limit their offseason splurges. As in hockey – whose hard salary cap/floor works well – the floor and cap would increase annually at the rate of the growth in league revenue.

The MLB players’ association rejected an offer that would have put a salary cap/floor in the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. However, the majority of players could benefit from a cap/floor due to a more even distribution of money. Only the most highly paid players would see a salary reduction due to the cap.

Both players and owners need to preserve the excitement, quality, and accessibility of baseball to maintain and grow its fan base. Baseball has an 800-pound gorilla of a competitor. In the past few decades, football has become an economic powerhouse that rivals and even eclipses baseball. Without cooperation between players and owners, baseball will continue to lose ground.

Championships should be won by astute general managers, not by owners’ deep pockets. Excellent players should be grown through a fertile farm system rather than owners growing profits in the bank. Victories on the diamond should override an owner’s financial wins. Astute coaching strategies should win games rather than a starting nine filled with high-priced signings. These elements keep the vitality in baseball.

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18 Comments

Wow way to write a article everybody cares about

no salary cap! think off all the amazing offseason moves, and how they wouldnt have been made with a salary cap because of too much expense. jeter wouldnt have stayed on the yanks with out a large release, same with paul konerko, matt holliday, and possibly albert pujols. they would all be too expensive and the players that have been with the club forever would leave.

"I think baseballs just fine!"

Baseball needs a salary cap like football.

Great comparing the pirates and the yankees. Two very different teams in pay roll and win %

only problem is that one is in the al and another is in the nl

thats awsomne

all daaaaaaay

ATL braves on deck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Great job on this Yoni. I'm not an expert with the money in sports but I've got a simple formula. Which division has the most money in baseball? The AL East right? Are they also arguably the best divison in the MLB? The board has to something about that.

That is not the MLB's responsibility. If the AL "B"East is the best division (which it is), it will turn around eventually. The AL East has not been the best since the creation of organized Baseball, after all.

Yanks are just a normal team with a lot of money.

no the yankes r 1 of the best teams EVER.

agreed ppl don't need to b haters on yanks bc we rock

no no no. the way the yanks get money is by jersey sales hat sales ect.

i agree

Baseball Socialism... However, we do need to somehow control the fact that some teams can kiss it good bye on February 12th....
BUT! If the good players get paid, they get paid! There should be no limit on what a team can spend…It’s their money, and they can spend it on their team, a soccer team or their wife…The point here being, rich owners build good franchises, who win games. Interesting debate...and another good article Yoni.

Agree with every single word Elephant Bunny.

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