Dodgers facing big-money challenge
High-spending teams fall short more often than win World Series championships
It's not how much money a baseball team spends. It's how the money is spent.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been on a spending spree that has them challenging the New York Yankees for the largest payroll in the business.
Now, however, comes the hard part. Now the Dodgers have to take the field and try and translate that payroll into victories.
Some numbers to consider:
• Only four times in the past 11 World Series has a team with either the highest or second-highest payroll advanced to the World Series. The Yankees won the World Series in 2009 and lost in '03. They had the highest payroll in baseball those seasons. The Red Sox ranked second in payroll when they won the Series in 2004 and '07.
• In the past 13 World Series, 75 teams that ranked in the top 10 in salary did not advance to the postseason, which was expanded to 10 teams in 2012 and had included eight teams the 12 previous seasons.
• In those past 13 seasons, 36 teams that ranked in the bottom 10 payrolls advanced to the postseason.
• Three times in the past six years, a team that ranked 25th or lower advanced to the World Series. Texas, which ranked 27th in 2010, lost to San Francisco. Tampa Bay, which ranked 29th in '08, lost to Philadelphia. Colorado, which ranked 25th in '07, lost to Boston.
• Only twice in the past eight years have two teams with top-10 payrolls met in the World Series. No. 8 San Francisco beat No. 5 Detroit in 2012. The No. 1 Yankees beat No. 7 Philadelphia in '09.
• The team with the 29th-highest payroll advanced to the postseason in each of the past two seasons: Oakland as the American League West champion in 2012 and Tampa Bay as the AL Wild Card in '11. Oakland was ranked 29th when it advanced to the postseason in '01 and No. 27 Minnesota lost to eventual World Series-champion Anaheim in the AL Championship Series.
Growing indications are that the first two picks in the First-Year Player Draft will be right-handed pitchers Mark Appel of Stanford and Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma. Houston has the No. 1 pick and the Chicago Cubs go second.
If the Astros balk at taking Appel, wanting to save some of their allotted $7,790,400 signing-bonus money for the No. 1 pick to use later in the Draft, Gray will be their choice, and the Cubs are expected to quickly take Appel.
Part of the challenge in trying to sign Appel, who is advised by agent Scott Boras, is that he does not face the July 13 signing deadline because he is a college senior. As a result, even if a team offers Appel less than what the allotted bonus money is for when he is drafted, it can't risk using any of Appel's potential bonus money until he is signed, which could drag past the deadline for other selections to sign.
Appel gambled a year ago when the Astros passed on using the No. 1 pick on him and instead took shortstop Carlos Correa, who signed for $4.8 million. That was $2.4 million less than the allotted money for the top pick overall, which Houston used to sign players selected later. Appel, however, has performed as well if not better this year, reaffirming the belief he is the best player available.
Appel slipped to eighth in the first round a year ago and turned down Pittsburgh's $3.8 million offer. If the Astros balk at giving him a substantially larger bonus this time around, the Cubs are allotted $6,708,400 for the No. 2 pick. If he somehow slips past the second pick, Colorado, allotted $5,626,400, won't hesitate, according to sources in the industry.
The Pirates took the gamble last year but didn't lose too much in light of the fact they will get the No. 9 pick overall this year because Appel didn't sign.
• Mets right-hander Matt Harvey has been a one-man show. He is 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA. The rest of the Mets' rotation has combined for 10 starts, in which it is 2-5 with a 5.69 ERA.
• Colorado's snowouts against the Mets on Monday and Wednesday leave the Rockies with 15 such postponements in their history, including 14 in April. Colorado was snowed out for the first time on Sept. 13, 1993, against Houston. In their 20-plus years of existence, the Rockies have had only 21 home rainouts, for a total of 36 postponements.
• Two left-handed pitchers from last year's Draft already have made it to the big leagues. Lefty Paco Rodriguez out of the University of Florida, the Dodgers' second-round pick last June, debuted in September after making 21 Minor League appearances and working 19 2/3 innings, and made the Dodgers' Opening Day roster this year.
Now comes Michael Roth for the Angels. The lefty out of South Carolina was 14-3 with a 1.06 ERA in his collegiate career, but slipped to the ninth round because he was a senior and has a fastball in the mid-80s. He made his debut Saturday against Houston, earning a victory in relief by pitching two shutout innings, during which he struck out four.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.