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Can't Buy Me Wins...

The Dodgers', Angels', and Blue Jays' hopes for the 2013 season may as well be on this stretcher.
The Dodgers', Angels', and Blue Jays' hopes for the 2013 season may as well be on this stretcher.
Scott Boehm

"I don't care too much for money
For money can't buy me love wins
Can't buy me wins...(now just the altos!)...

The 2013 season has been, to this point, a remarkable referendum on the belief that a team can parlay success out of big spending. In 2012, the A's opened the season with a payroll under $53M and ended the season with 94 wins, but that didn't stop the Los Angeles Dodgers from adding Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez to a group led -- well not really -- by Carl Crawford. Then they added Zack Greinke and before you knew it, the Dodgers had a staggering $216.7M payroll. They end play today 15-21, dead last in the NL West.

Yet remarkably, the Dodgers aren't even clearly the worst, or most overrated team, in Southern California. Even after 3 wins in a row, the Angels sit at 14-22 with a slugging duo of Lame (Pujols, literally) and Lamer (Hamilton, figuratively) and a starting rotation that inspires fear only in Angels fans. It's not the Angels' payroll ($137+M) that stands out so much as the commitments they have made to Pujols and Hamilton, 10 and 5 years respectively, totaling $365M. All to be 14-22 now.

Then there are the Toronto Blue Jays, who got tired of being a perennial 80-84 win team so they went out and got R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera...and are 15-24, which puts them on pace to win 62 games. Oops.

At least the New York Yankees have turned their $228M payroll into wins, off to a 23-13 start. Actually, that's not true either. Much of that payroll -- $80M of it, to be exact -- is tied up in the contracts to Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira, none of whom have played a single inning this season. The Yankees are winning behind guys like Hiroki Kuroda, a shrewd under-the-radar signing, a homegrown talent in Brett Gardner (who is earning all of $2.85M this season), and a motley crew of cheap and unwanted castoffs like Travis Hafner ($2M), Brennan Boesch ($1.5M), Lyle Overbay ($1.25M), and Jayson Nix (0.9M). The Yankees are winning despite their payroll, not because of it!

Granted, you can't be completely parsimonious (Marlins) or devoid of talent (Astros) and win. But if 2013 is any indication, opening up your wallet -- especially to pay big for past performance -- is no panacea either. Just ask the Dodgers, Angels, and Blue Jays, who are a combined 25.5 games out of first place. And it's only May. And most of the worst contracts are in their early stages. See you in 2021, Albert!