Money Doesn’t Buy Wins: Why the Dodgers and Angels Are Struggling


Aug 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis (14), pitcher Rubby De La Rosa (41) and catcher A.J. Ellis (17) react during the game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. The Giants defeated the Dodgers 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

At the start of the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels seemed to have a lot going for them. The Dodgers started the season strongand the Angels were expected to be contenders to win the AL West. The Dodgers’ winning streak was short lived as they are now 32-42 and last place in their division. The Angels aren’t in last place in their division; the Astros are. The Angels have a record of 33-43, however, and that is nothing to be proud of.

Despite the obvious similarities of location and record, the two LA teams also share something else in common, a high payroll for their teams. In fact, the Dodgers and the Angels have the second and seventh highest payrolls in Major League Baseball respectively. The two teams spent a lot of money to bring talent to their respective teams, but neither the Dodgers nor the Angels have been able to make use their talent to produce wins consistently. Why is that?

Money can help when it comes to winning the World Series. The Yankees (the team with the highest payroll) have won the World Series three years in a row from 1998 through 2000 and again in 2009. In the same amount of time, 2008 was the only year they didn’t make the playoffs. The Philadelphia Phillies (number three on the list of highest payrolls) won the Word Series in 2008. Boston (number four on the list) won in 2004 and 2007, and the San Francisco Giants (number six on the list) won in 2010 and 2012.

One thing to note is that these teams don’t win every year. Even the Yankees, who made the playoffs almost every year in the last decade, only won in 2009. The takeaway lesson here is that 2013 may just not be either the Dodgers’ or the Angels’ year. Next year could be different.

But why are they doing so poorly? For both teams, the answer has something to do with injuries. The Dodgers currently have eight players on the DL; these players include Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Matt Kemp—players who were once starters and have some of the highest salaries on the team. Angel’s pitcher Jared Weaver has already been injured this season, and there’s worry that Josh Hamilton’s wrist injury will linger for the rest of the season.

I think injuries are causing most of the woes for the Dodgers; however, for the Angels, I think there’s more to it than just injury. I think a lot of the problem has to do with the Angels bringing in new talent based on the player instead of the team’s needs.

In other words, they bought players who were in demand instead of buying players who would be good fits for their team. Take Albert Pujols for example. He has a list as long as my arm of all the accomplishments he’s earned during his career, but he’s in his 30s and his batting stats have been slipping since 2010.

I’m not saying he’s washed up, but the Angels seem to have bought Pujols for what he’s done in the past, not what they think he’s likely to do in the future.