I am going to be bringing you my perspectives on the status of the Marlins in the post-Loria/post-Stanton era as it is being built by the Jeter/Sherman regime. Stay tuned – and hold on.
When the new ownership group arrived in sunny South Florida, there was a different energy that was buzzing through the fan base – it was hope. It is not a stretch to say that most Marlins fans have been tortured by the Loria era, often depicted as a huckster who brought in his stepson to run the organization. We’ll be coming back to that narrative a lot in future reports, but for now, let’s use it as a baseline to establish the dichotomy between Loria and Jeter.
The hope and promise of a legendary, hall of fame shortstop from the hallowed Yankees organization was too much to bear. Most Marlins fans breathed a sigh of relief and whispered to themselves, finally. Yet, it was not as optimistic as we may have hoped.
A series of firings were unleashed – Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, all gone as special assistants. After canning fan favorite Tommy Hutton, Fox Sports gave Rich Waltz his walking papers and cleared out the booth. It is a new era, after all.
Along the way, Jeter had mentioned his plan and revealed it through the descriptors “financial discipline” and “payroll flexibility”. The number tossed around is $400M in debt and it was Jeter and Sherman, both innocent of the previous regime’s mess, that were setting about to do things right. We were told they had a plan and MLB signed off on it – despite two other bidders with formidable financial portfolios.
So, let’s take a snapshot of how much winning in MLB actually costs.
The Marlins payroll, ranked 20th in MLB last year as of opening day at $111.881M (total). They ended up with 77 wins (placing 2nd in the NL East) which puts them at $1.453M per win.
At the top end are the Dodgers, who spent $242.665M on their total payroll last year and they racked up 104 wins which puts them at $2.327M per win.
World Champion Houston Astros spent $124.343M (total) on payroll (18th overall) and earned 101 regular season wins making them grind at $1.231M per win.
Just putting together some basic figures, if you want to win 90 games next year, at $1.5M per win, you are looking at a payroll of $135M. 95 wins at $1.5M means $142.5M for your payroll.
The point is, extremely wealthy teams don’t have to be efficient because they have loads of revenue – tied into TV contracts and ticket sales along with advertisement money, etc. Those who don’t have as large of a revenue stream have to be efficient – like the Astros. That said, there is no way you are going to contend with a payroll under $100M.
The Dbacks did make the playoffs last year with a highly efficient $93.257M payroll, resulting in about $1M per win. (On the flipside is Detroit with only 64 wins last season but a $199.750M payroll resulting in $3.121M per win!)
Money is not a guaranteer of results. You can spend and end up like Detroit or you can spend very little and end up like Arizona. Those results, however are not common.
The reason this is important is because Jeter has said he wants to see payroll be reduced to the $90M mark for this upcoming season and this is a large reason why Stanton’s contract was unloaded as it was going to swell to $25M for this upcoming season. Yet, with a $1.5M per win figure in place, $90M is only going to get you 60 wins – down from last year’s 77 win total. Is that going to build excitement and draw fans to the games?
What if the Marlins increased their payroll last season by $20M resulting in a total payroll of $131.881M? With a $1.5M figure per win mixed in, that results in 87.92 wins next year – enough to contend for a wild card spot.
Does having the league’s MVP and being in contention sound like a better situation for generating revenue? Or a total burn down of the roster with a 60 win season on the horizon?