The New York Yankees are criticized for "buying" a championship level team.
Bottom line is that it is not the amount of money spent, but rather how the money is spent that makes the difference. Give the Yankees their due. They spend money well, and they don’t make excuses for failures.
They have had the biggest payroll in baseball in every year of the current century, and are making their 10th postseason appearance in the 11 years.
Buying a championship? Well, the Yankees and Phillies, who ranked fourth in payroll, are the only teams in the postseason this year to rank among the top eight major-league franchises in terms of payroll.
Boston, ranked second, is the only one of the six high rollers that didn’t advance to the postseason to even post a winning record. The Chicago Cubs (third in payroll) and New York Mets (fifth) are both looking for new leadership this October instead of battling for the world championship. The others who couldn’t buy happiness were Detroit (sixth), the Chicago White Sox (seventh) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (eighth).
NL West champion San Francisco (ninth) and AL Central champion Minnesota (!0th) have joined the Yankees and Phillies in the playoffs along with NL wildcard Atlanta (15th), AL East champion Tampa Bay (19th), NL Central champion Cincinnati (20th) and Texas (27th).
Consider that in the last 11 post-seasons:
• Only three times has the team with the second biggest payroll been involved in baseball’s October showdown – the Red Sox in 2007, 2005 and 2004;
• Five of the top eight teams in terms of payroll advanced to the postseason in 2008 and 2004, the most of any season in the 2000s. In 2008, the top three teams in terms of payroll – the Yankees, Mets and Detroit — were left out of the playoffs.
• There are only two top-eight payrolls in the postseason this year; three of the top eight payrolls advanced in 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2000, and four advanced in 2009, 2007, 2005 and 2001.
• This is the sixth time in 11 years that at least two of the three teams with the highest payroll in baseball did not advance, the third year in a row, and fourth time in five seasons.
• The Mets have ranked among the top eight in payroll every year of the 2000s, including second to the Yankees in 2009, 2008 and 2003, but have advanced the postseason only once – 2006 – since losing the World Series to the Yankees in 2000.
• Fifteen teams ranking in the lower third in payroll have made the playoffs in the 2000s, including Cincinnati and Texas this season. There were three teams ranked 21st or lower in 2007 (No. 23 Cleveland, No. 25 Colorado and No. 26 Arizona).
• Twice the team ranking 29th in payroll advanced – Tampa Bay, which lost in the World Series to Philadelphia in 2008, and Oakland in 2001 when it was eliminated in the first round.
• Three franchises ranking among the top eight payrolls have combined to win five World Series in the last 10 years: The Yankees ranked No. 1 in 2000 and 2009; Boston ranked second in 2007 and 2004, and Arizona was No. 8 in 2001. St. Louis was 11th in payroll in 2006, Philadelphia No. 12 in 2008, the Chicago White Sox 13th in 2005, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 15th in 2002, and Florida was 25th in 2003.
• Philadelphia had the highest winning percentage (.599) during the regular season, the third time in five years that no major-league team had a winning percentage of at least .600. That happened only four times prior to 2006 – 1926, 1958, 1982 and 2000.
• Cincinnati (14-16), the Yankees (13-17) and Atlanta (14-16) had losing records in September/October. The only other time since the advent of divisional play in 1969 that three teams with losing records in September/October advanced was in 2008 with Milwaukee the White Sox and Tampa Bay.
• Randy Winn of St. Louis remains at the top of the list of active players with the most games (1,717) without appearing in the postseason. His three closest competitors will make their debuts this week: Michael Young of Texas, Aubrey Huff of San Francisco and Mike Sweeney of Philadelphia.
• Two scouting directors have been let go so far – Eddie Bane with the Angels and Tommy Allison in Arizona, where his desire to use the No. 1 draft pick last June on Chris Sale was overruled by his superiors. Sale, by the way, was the one player out of this year’s draft to get to the big leagues. He had a 1.93 ERA and four saves in 21 appearances with the Chicago White Sox.
• A.J. Hinch, who went from running Arizona’s farm system to managing the Diamondbacks despite having never managed at any level, is now the director of pro scouting in San Diego even though he’s never been a scout. Jeff Moorad, who was Hinch’s agent when Hinch was a player, is the managing general partner in San Diego.
• After nine years as general manager in Cleveland, which produced one postseason appearance (2007) and two winning records (2007 and 2005), Mark Shapiro has moved up from general manager to president of the Indians with his chief aide, Chris Antonetti, assuming the GM chores.
• Biggest roadblock for Bobby Valentine becoming the next manager in Florida remains a conflict with Marlins president David Samson, stepson of owner Jeffrey Loria, who is hands-on in the operation of the team.
Odds and ends
• Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, who also advanced to the postseason with the Giants and Cubs, is the sixth manager to take at least three different teams to the playoffs since divisional play began in 1969. The others were Davey Johnson (Baltimore, Cincinnati and Los Angeles Dodgers), Tony La Russa (Chicago White Sox, Oakland and St. Louis), Joe Torre (Atlanta, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers), Lou Piniella (Cincinnati, Seattle and Chicago Cubs) and Billy Martin (Minnesota, Detroit, New York Yankees and Oakland).
• The Reds’ playoff drought had spanned 14 seasons, which was fifth longest among teams. The longest belongs to Montreal/Washington at 29 years followed by Kansas City (25), Pittsburgh (18) and Toronto (17). Baltimore is now No. 5 at 13 years.
• Traditions continue to fade. Nancy Faust, organist for the Chicago White Sox for 41 years, and Ernie Hays, who handled the chores for St. Louis the last 40 seasons, both retired at season’s end.