"There's no question they'll spend the money to be competitive,"
-- MLB Commissioner Bud Selig as quoted in a ESPN.com AP article from May 4, 2006 entitled, "Lerner selected as new Nationals owner".
"...I won't name the teams in the American League that had payrolls all over $100 million that ended up last -- do you want those $100 million teams? Or do you want the $40 million team from Tampa that went to the World Series? OK. You don't care about payroll. What you care about is your team. Payroll is not a guarantee of success, and it is not an excuse for losing. So don't be distracted by it, no matter how much the media wants you to be distracted by it. OK? Care about the team."
-- Washington Nationals' team President Stan Kasten in his now famous, "Stanifesto" rant as recorded by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "The Stanifesto".
"The Nats, who clinched the game's worst record on Wednesday thanks to a Pirates win, are on the verge of becoming a lightning rod of criticism, especially by big-market teams that pay into the game's huge revenue-sharing pot, according to numerous baseball sources contacted over the last three months."
-- Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell in a 10/1/09 article entitled, "A D.C. Game of Moneyball".
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, after the back-to-back 100+ loss seasons, after the loss of their No. 1 pitching prospect to Tommy John surgery and rehabiliation, after a season full of "Natinals" jokes, 142 errors, and not a single 10-game winner amongst the Nationals' pitchers, and after the team somehow mustered the awesome power necessary to (possibly) keep Adam Dunn from hitting his trademark 40 HR's for the first time in six seasons, comes Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell's incendiary article entitled, "A D.C. Game of Moneyball", wherein Mr. Boswell quotes an anonymous "American League executive" who says, "You're probably going to see revenue-sharing reform pretty soon..." in reaction to what Mr. Boswell describes as the Pittsburgh Pirates' "business model":
"...keep the payroll tiny, lose a ton of games every year, yet turn a profit thanks to revenue sharing and then claim it's the only way to survive in a tiny market."
"But," (and here's where it suddenly starts getting embarrassing for the DC Faithful), Mr. Boswell writes:
"...the Bucs have an excuse: Their metropolitan market -- like Denver, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City and Milwaukee -- is less than half Washington's size (No. 9 in the United States)...
"If the Nats keep operating as they have, they'll be seen as the only top-10 market with the gall to act like a bottom-five town."
Mr. Boswell begins the article by writing that the Nationals, "operate on such a low budget and possess such a healthy bottom line that they are the financial envy of most other franchises," but those other franchises, Mr. Bowsell goes on to explain, have begun to question the way in which baseball's so-called "have-nots" are using the funds generated by baseball's revenue-sharing system, (an estimated $400 million total transferred from revenue sharing and luxury tax, according to a SportsBusinessDaily article), which have allowed for the Pirates, who, Mr. Boswell writes, "...have fielded 17 straight losing teams," to turn, "...a profit in each of the past six seasons." The Nationals, who were ranked, (after the 2008 season), as the "second-most profitable team in baseball..." by Forbes Magazine, had a $63 million dollar payroll before the Lerners bought the team in 2006, according to Mr. Boswell, and, "...cut that budget immediately to $37 million," and they paid $61 million for this year's 56-103 roster, but that number, "will still plummet...to $40 million in current '10 obligations," when the season ends.
Is that a $40 million dollar 2010 Nationals' roster that could go to the World Series like the Tampa Bay team Stan Kasten referenced in the "Stanifesto"? Are the Nationals going to spend $20 million+ this offseason to bring the payroll back up to the $60M range they were at when the '09 campaign began? Should fans care about payroll? Should I care how much the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets have to pay in revenue-sharing and luxury tax? Should I care what the Nationals do with that money? Should I care that 6 of the Top 10 teams in terms of total 2009 payroll, (the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Phillies and Dodgers) are headed for the 2009 postseason, or that the other two playoff teams are ranked 13th (Cardinals) and 18th (Rockies), placing them in the middle of the payroll pack, while no team in the bottom 1/3* (* = the Twins have a "chance" still) will be playing after this Sunday? Mr. Kasten?
"Payroll is not a guarantee of success, and it is not an excuse for losing. So don't be distracted by it, no matter how much the media wants you to be distracted by it. OK? Care about the team."
I do, Mr. Kasten, I do care about the team, and they're 56-103 right now. Are a couple of relievers and a defensive middle infielder really going to change things?