With baseball season rapidly approaching, it's time for a look back at the most overpaid flops (as a team) of last year, and some speculation on whether history will repeat itself. All payrolls here. Without further ado, here they are in reverse order of overpayment:
Seattle Mariners ($106 Million, 88-74) - The Mariners won their last 5 to finish 6 back of the Angels. Granted the Angels spent as much as the M's, but you'd like to be a little more competitive for that much money. The Angels led all summer. Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre, need I say more?
LA Dodgers ($108 Million, 82-80) - The NL West team with the highest payroll was lucky to break .500, and struggled mightily at the end of the year. Their 4th place finish was embarassing, especially since the Rockies and D-Backs COMBINED payroll was less than the Dodgers. The Padres were also under $60M.
SF Giants ($90 Million , 71-91) - Behind huge contracts to Zito and Bonds (neither of whom performed at a high level consistently), the Giants floundered to a last place finish and the 2nd worst record in the NL (Pirates, tied with Marlins). Good thing they let Schmidt go so they could sign Zito.
Baltimore Orioles ($93 Million, 69-93) - An increase of $20 Million over 2006 netted the Orioles absolutely no benefit, leaving them still the second-best team in the Baltimore-Washington area. As a point of pride, the O's finished ahead of the Rays. On the other hand, the Rays only paid $24 Million to finish 3 games worse.
Chicago White Sox ($108 Million, 72-90) - The White Sox appear to have overpaid to keep an aging team together following their World Series victory, and it really cost them last year. 4th place behind medium market teams is not worth the 5th highest paid team in the league.
So what about 2008? The Orioles unloaded Tejada and Bedard for a collection of prospects and nobodies, so that should reduce the payroll but not improve the record. The Giants wisely disposed of Bonds, but Zito's monstrosity of a contract will be a burden on that team for years. The Dodgers and the Mets are likely to have much improved years with the addition of Torre and Santana, respectively. The White Sox and the Mariners might have the same result as last year, for the same price. Those owners have to love it.
Only 4 of the top 12 teams in payroll made the playoffs last year, and 3 teams in the bottom 8 made the playoffs. Money isn't everything.