Here’s a visual reminder that it’s not about how much the Cubs spend, but how they spend that’s important.
Only twice in the past 10 years have the Cubs seen an increase in payroll translate to more wins. However, four times they spent more on player salary than the year prior–only to lose more games.
The result of careless spending ultimately limits roster flexibility. It makes it tougher to acquire players and increasingly difficult to trade underperforming ones signed to gaudy contracts.
Doubling down on payroll can open a small window to win a championship, as it did for the Cubs in 2007-08, but we know it’s no guarantee to winning a ring and the long-term effects makes it virtually impossible to maintain any success.
That’s why Theo Epstein is taking a more careful approach with team payroll than his predecessor Jim Hendry. Building the Cubs into a consistent winner, one that reaches the postseason year-after-year, gives the club its best odds of winning a World Series.
To build that model Epstein has to first relieve the pressure of what became a suffocating team payroll and roster gridlock under Hendry. It means making smarter investments, taking fewer risks and practicing more patience until some roster flexibility returns.
Of course building a core player group won’t come on the cheap. Neither will supplementing the core group with the best available free agents. No doubt Tom Ricketts realizes it’s going to take significant dollars to build a championship roster. It’s just important the payroll and roster talent grow together and not apart.
A staple of smart investing is discipline and patience. It’s understanding there’s no penalty for making smarter, smaller moves. But there are, however, severe consequences for losing sight of the long-term goals with greed and impatience.
What better way to sum up the chart above.