If you haven’t already, hop on Amazon.com and order Molly Knight’s “The Best Team Money Can Buy.”
It’s a incredible look inside one of the most fascinating two-yearish stretches not just in Dodgers history, but in the history of any franchise across professional sports. Re-live, if you dare, the death throes of the Frank McCourt administration, the arrival of Mark Walter and the Guggenheim Partners, and get to know the incredible juggling of personalities and egos in a clubhouse that was, at least in the regular season, winning almost despite itself.
(To learn more about the book, and how it was made — shameless plug coming — listen to my podcast with Molly Knight, here.)
With all the headlines about Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, what ought to be the most important lesson of the book hasn’t been discussed all that much — Having the Best Team Money Can Buy isn’t about buying the best players and having the biggest payroll.
Obviously the Dodgers can, and should when the right opportunity presents itself — Clayton Kershaw’s extension, for example. But while free agency is the splashiest, sexiest type of headline making, relying on it as the primary mechanism of team building is incredibly problematic.
Today’s young stars are more consistently being bought out of their arbitration years, keeping many locked up through their most productive seasons. That leaves fewer quality options on the market, driving up the cost to get them.
The Dodgers have wiggle room to absorb dead money, but even they have a tipping point. Smart teams, even rich ones, don’t routinely overpay for past performance because eventually those players become a drag on the roster.
That’s on the field.
CONTINUE READING: Off-The-Field Issues That Come With High Expectations