Monday, December 17, 2012

Dodgy Moves

Before I begin, I would like to thank you for your continual support and views despite my lack of posting. This was a piece done for my school newspaper The Blueprint

   On December 11, 2012, the Los Angeles Dodgers ruined Major League Baseball. The ownership’s free spending attitude and overall disdain for homegrown talent has dramatically changed baseball’s landscape from one of patience, persistence, and, save for a few teams, frugality, to one where the teams who have money dominate the ones who do not. When the storied franchise signed right hander Zack Greinke to a six year deal worth nearly $150,000,000, it dramatically increased the already inflated value of good pitching to a record high. 

     From a business perspective, such a move is crucial to establishing credibility to an ownership group lacking experience. Signing Greinke gives the impression that the team now has two top of the rotation starters, the other being Clayton Kershaw, and will generate more revenue for a team in dire need of it. While the Dodgers shocked the league by accepting the brunt of some of the most disgusting contracts in baseball history in a trade with the Red Sox, giving such a large contract to such an average player signified the final blow to the baseball establishment. Maybe I’m overreacting. It’s a distinct possibility when sports are involved. The Dodgers merely took advantage of their large market surroundings and played to their strength-money, and to an extent that’s true, but the team’s blatant disregard for the salary cap and ensuing luxury tax sent a message-that mere fines are no deterrent, and championships can and will be bought in the near future, and that parity as we know it is dead. Baseball doesn’t need any more organizations like the Yankees. It needs more like the Reds, Cardinals, and Athletics, teams that actually have a budget. 

     Only from a performance perspective does this deal show signs of backfiring. Besides the inevitable issue of a decline in production towards the end of the deal, Greinke will get paid $26,000,000 at age 34, it is important to note that he is hardly better than Homer Bailey. The man is talented, no doubt, but statistically, he is only slightly above average. His career ERA is 3.77, far from meriting title of ‘ace,’ or a contract worth five times the GDP of Tuvalu. He also only wins three more games, on average, than a league average, replacement level player, making his very expensive impact negligible. While Greinke had an exceptional season in 2009 that won him the AL Cy Young award, his performance as of late has shown such a feat to be unrepeatable. Furthermore, his off the field issues may prevent the right hander from having any productive years at all. He has been diagnosed with severe Social Anxiety Disorder, and putting him in the spot light of Los Angeles is unfortunately a disaster waiting to happen.  

     Greinke’s contract exposes a growing problem in baseball. The decision to sign a league average pitcher to the richest contract at his position in history is absurd in principle, but in terms of simple economics, justifiable. There is always a large demand for quality pitching, but this year, there were very few pitchers who fit the profile. High scarcity and even higher demand makes for dramatically inflated prices, regardless of how much the item in question, in this case starting pitching, is actually worth. The fact that the Dodgers were willing to put themselves far into the luxury tax to have an average pitcher creates a bubble that will never burst-just get bigger, unless something is done to change it. Maybe I’m overreacting. But I do not find it fair. Something has to be done, one option being a ‘harder’ salary cap and a more harsh system of fines and draft pick compensations. However, December 11, 2012 will forever be known as the day that the Los Angeles Dodgers ruined baseball.  

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