Bargain Shoppers

Sometimes Geoff Baker’s asshole migrates up toward his mouth, and then he starts talking. 

“The sad part of Moneyball, which really was an entertaining book, is that it seems to have convinced a generation of fans that being cost-effective actually means something in a sport where nobody is competing on an even economic footing.”

So cost-effectiveness is no help in a sport where some teams spend $200M and some spend $40M? That makes no sense. Baseball, with all its uneven economic footing, is exactly the environment where the Moneyball strategy is essential for some teams.

Baker later argues that many of these owners could be spending more. Ok, cool. Does it really matter what they could do? They can do what they want with their money, and the GMs simply have to work within those limits. Sure it would be nice if the Mariners ownership group decided to up payroll and make a guy like Prince Fielder more affordable. Maybe they would even make money. But if ownership doesn’t want to pony up, then Jack Zduriencik has his hands tied. Baker makes it sounds like the owners are playing Moneyball. The owners are just being stingy, and so it’s the GMs that are forced to play Moneyball, which is actually a very real and effective strategy (see: Tampa Bay).

So, Geoff, of course we are concerned with cost-effectiveness. We could fly to Japan and protest the Mariners owners’ fiscal conservation, or we could support a strategy that maximizes the product on the field with the given resources ownership has made available.

I completely agree that owners are mostly greedy jerkfaces who spend public money on their stadiums and reap the benefits. Would I like to change that? Hell yes, I would. But down at the field level, winning teams must be created within the given constraints, and adding wins with low-cost talent is good place to start. For some GMs, it’s the only place to start.

As a pro-Moneyballer-cost-effectiver, I support a GM’s efforts to find bargains, while I loathe the owners that make it so necessary. There are two separate issues at play; let’s not confuse them.

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