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01-16

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3

Overthinking It: How the Braves Can Keep a Good Thing Going
by
Ben Lindbergh

08-27

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12

Manufactured Runs: Are The Astros Really the Most Profitable Team in History?
by
Colin Wyers

08-15

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0

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 266: How the A's Were Built/Why the Dodgers Are Winning
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

06-03

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1

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 215: Does Money Still Make Teams Better?/Taking our Temperatures on Tim Lincecum and Chris Davis
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

12-20

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15

Skewed Left: How to Analyze the Astros' Spending
by
Zachary Levine

12-12

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9

Bizball: Yankees' Focus on $189 Million Not Just About the Luxury Tax
by
Maury Brown

12-10

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0

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 98: Zack Greinke and the Dodgers' Bottomless Bankroll
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

10-23

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12

Bizball: 2012 MLB Postseason Shows Money Matters
by
Maury Brown

10-18

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29

Overthinking It: Baseball's Most Immovable Players
by
Ben Lindbergh

08-17

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11

The Process: Resetting the Astros Roster
by
Bradley Ankrom

07-02

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4

Bizball: How Much Salary Can You Allocate to One Player and Be Competitive?
by
Maury Brown

02-06

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18

Prospectus Hit and Run: Beware of Falling Payrolls
by
Jay Jaffe

03-16

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0

Contractual Matters: AL Central Payroll Projections
by
Jeff Euston

03-09

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3

Contractual Matters: NL Central Payroll Projections
by
Jeff Euston

03-02

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0

Contractual Matters: AL East Payroll Projections
by
Jeff Euston

02-23

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8

Contractual Matters: NL East Payroll Projections
by
Jeff Euston

02-16

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3

Contractual Matters: AL West Payroll Projections
by
Jeff Euston

02-09

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1

Contractual Matters: NL West Payroll Projections
by
Jeff Euston

08-12

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3

Squawking Baseball: Do New Owners Spend More?
by
Shawn Hoffman

04-22

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4

Contractual Matters: Payroll Puzzle
by
Jeff Euston

03-25

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0

Contractual Matters: AL West
by
Jeff Euston

03-18

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2

Contractual Matters: NL West Projected Payrolls
by
Jeff Euston

03-11

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18

Contractual Matters: AL East
by
Jeff Euston

03-09

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4

Prospectus Hit and Run: NL Central Competitive Ecology
by
Jay Jaffe

03-04

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7

Contractual Matters: NL East
by
Jeff Euston

02-24

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15

Contractual Matters: NL Central
by
Jeff Euston

02-23

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8

Prospectus Hit and Run: AL Central Competitive Ecology
by
Jay Jaffe

02-12

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18

Prospectus Hit and Run: AL East Competitive Ecology
by
Jay Jaffe

02-09

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10

Prospectus Hit and Run: NL East Competitive Ecology
by
Jay Jaffe

02-03

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13

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Lay of the Land
by
Jay Jaffe

01-28

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9

Contractual Matters: AL Central Payroll Projections
by
Jeff Euston

05-17

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20

Prospectus Idol Entry: Jeff Euston's Initial Entry
by
Jeff Euston

03-10

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17

You Could Look It Up: The Magic 15 Puzzle
by
Steven Goldman

04-16

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0

The Ledger Domain: A Look in the Black Book (Part I)
by
Maury Brown

10-09

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0

The Ledger Domain: Breaking Down the 2006 Season by Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
by
Maury Brown

09-20

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0

The Ledger Domain: Are the Marlins the Biggest Overachievers of All Time?
by
Maury Brown

07-07

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Thinking and Rethinking: Part 2
by
Dan Fox

06-29

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Variations on a Monetary Theme
by
Dan Fox

11-22

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0

The Dick Martin Award Finalists
by
Michael Groopman

11-19

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0

Marginal Dollars per Marginal Win
by
Ben Murphy

04-12

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0

Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
by
Doug Pappas

04-06

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0

Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
by
Doug Pappas

03-16

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0

Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
by
Doug Pappas

03-09

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0

Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
by
Doug Pappas

10-06

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0

Marginal Dollars Per Win, 2003
by
Doug Pappas

03-31

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0

As Seen In The New York Times Magazine
by
Doug Pappas

02-19

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0

Prospectus Feature: Where Does the Money Go?: Taking a Look at Major League Payrolls
by
Doug Pappas

04-18

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0

Sensible Revenue Sharing
by
Keith Woolner

03-14

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Prospectus Feature: Comparing Balance: Are the Yankees Unbeatable?
by
Derek Zumsteg

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January 16, 2014 8:17 am

Overthinking It: How the Braves Can Keep a Good Thing Going

3

Ben Lindbergh

We just want to say three words to the Braves: "service time" and "extensions."

When it comes to building baseball teams, it’s generally good to be young, but bad to be the youngest. A young team tends to have fewer players who’ll get hurt or head downhill, which bodes well, all else being equal. But fielding an especially high percentage of young players is often a sign that a team plans to throw in the towel short term, making do with league minimum instead of ponying up for performance.

This is more true on offense than it is on the mound, because pitchers tend to arrive in the majors roughly as good as they’re going to get. Of the 10 clubs projected to have the youngest pitching staffs this season, six made the playoffs in 2013, and seven were winning teams. Of the 10 clubs projected to have the youngest batters, only two are coming off playoff appearances. Which is why it stood out, as I researched the potentially historically old Yankees, that the Atlanta Braves bucked that trend. Here are the teams with the five lowest projected average team batting ages for 2014, based on our depth charts:

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No. No they aren't.

It’s that time of year again, when Forbes gives us its estimates of baseball team finances and baseball teams dispute the estimates. This year’s reporting comes with an especially sensational headline:

2013 Houston Astros: Baseball's Worst Team Is The Most Profitable In History

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Ben and Sam talk about how the A's are winning in an unusual way for a small-market team, then discuss why the Dodgers have been the exception to the trend of money not leading to wins.

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Ben and Sam discuss whether the ability to spend big helps teams as much as it once did, then talk about their expectations for Tim Lincecum and Chris Davis.

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December 20, 2012 5:00 am

Skewed Left: How to Analyze the Astros' Spending

15

Zachary Levine

The Astros won't win in 2013 no matter how much they spend on free agents. So what should we make of their moves?

While Major League Baseball operates without a salary floor, it's not like there are no restrictions on the frugal. The baseline for fielding a major-league team is found right there in the rule book.

4.17 A game shall be forfeited to the opposing team when a team is unable or refuses to place nine players on the field.

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A look at the multi-fold reasons the Yankees have for getting under the luxury tax threshold by 2014.

Taking stock of the Yankees this offseason is a little like watching The Walking Dead. With the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the left-side of the infield has decimated, and who knows how their future Hall of Fame closer, Mariano Rivera, will rebound from his injury last year? At a time when getting aggressive in free agency would be part and parcel for the Yankees, they are, instead, paring back. As strange as it sounds, “fiscal restraint”—whatever that is for the Yankees—has become a hot topic. In interview after interview, be it Hal Steinbrenner or Brian Cashman, talk of getting below “189” seems to find its way into the conversation.

For the uninitiated, “189” is a reference to MLB’s luxury tax ceiling of $189 million in player payroll that is set to hit in 2014. The Yankees have said that they are serious about getting under the figure by then, when the tax rate for the club would hit a whopping 50 percent for every dollar over that $189 million threshold. Last year, the Yankees had a luxury tax bill of $13,896,069, and they’ll certainly be paying again this year when the end-of-year payroll figures are released just before the holiday. As of 2011, the Bronx Bombers have paid $206,109,142 in luxury tax penalties, or 91 percent of the $227,119,157 total collected since 2003. It’s been painful to the Yankees’ wallet, so getting under that $189 million threshold is all about avoiding the luxury tax, right? In part, but there is something else to consider.

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Ben and Sam discuss the Zack Greinke signing and the Dodgers' astronomical payroll with Mike Petriello of Dodgers blog Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness.

Ben and Sam discuss the Zack Greinke signing and the Dodgers' astronomical payroll with Mike Petriello of Dodgers blog Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness.

Episode 98: "Zack Greinke and the Dodgers' Bottomless Bankroll"

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October 23, 2012 5:00 am

Bizball: 2012 MLB Postseason Shows Money Matters

12

Maury Brown

How important is money when it comes to making a deep run into the playoffs?

I don’t care how many times you’ve heard it, but money matters in sports. Somewhere along the line, maybe starting with a book by some guy named Lewis about the A’s, someone confused “money doesn’t win championships” for somehow meaning that money doesn’t matter if you want to be competitive. That’s never been true.

We can haggle over this a bit. There’s empirical evidence—a good bit of which comes from this current season—that a team can get into the playoffs without having a massive player payroll. After all, there was “Moneyball” then, and someone will say we saw a new form of “Moneyball” in Oakland this season. But as Nate Silver and Dayn Perry said so eloquently in Baseball Between the Numbers, Billy Beane’s shit hasn’t worked in the postseason. In truth, having money helps if you wish to go deep into the playoffs.

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October 18, 2012 11:26 am

Overthinking It: Baseball's Most Immovable Players

29

Ben Lindbergh

According to reports, the Marlins may have interest in Alex Rodriguez. Where does he rank among baseball's most difficult players to deal?

According to a report published yesterday, Yankees president Randy Levine and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria have had a casual conversation about the possibility of a trade between the two teams involving Alex Rodriguez. While the Marlins could use a third baseman and Rodriguez has close ties to Miami, it seems unlikely that they would be willing to pay much of the money he’s owed, and although the Yankees would like to avoid the rest of A-Rod’s decline phase, they won’t want to give him away. Even if there’s little substance to this particular report, though, it could be the opening salvo in a series of A-Rod rumors that might make the rounds this winter.

A-Rod’s combination of age, salary, and disappointing performance would make him a nightmare to move, but where does his contract rank among the majors’ most difficult to deal? No contract is truly untradeable if a team decides it’s a sunk cost, but the dozen deals below would find few takers unless a team were willing to help pay the player’s way out of town. (Note: rankings mostly for fun.)

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August 17, 2012 11:05 am

The Process: Resetting the Astros Roster

11

Bradley Ankrom

Jeff Luhnow's first task was to clear the mess Ed Wade made, and he's already given the Astros a fresh start.

Since taking over as the general manager in Houston last December, Jeff Luhnow has turned over a good chunk of the 40-man roster he inherited, a collection of players who contributed to the Astros’ first 100-loss (106-loss, to be precise) season in franchise history in 2011.

Lame-duck GM Ed Wade was able to unload the Astros’ top marketable assets—Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn—last summer, but the task of moving the team’s more onerous veteran contracts was left to Luhnow. That process picked up in earnest this summer when Houston shuttled veterans J.A. Happ, Chris Johnson, Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, and Wandy Rodriguez off to contenders in exchange for more than a dozen minor-league prospects from five organizations.

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A look at how teams structure their payroll and the merits of the different strategies.

The general manager and owner’s dilemma been around since Ban Johnson decided that it was better to pay players rather than having them play as amateurs, the dilemma of trying to balance a budget with creating the most competitive team possible. We armchair GMs like to talk about whether this deal or that deal is good or bad, often within the framework of how much a player is being paid and whether they are “worth it.” Indeed, Baseball Prospectus strives daily to provide data that works to define that conversation.

The general manager’s dilemma, however, is tougher than, say, the budget that you or I set for our household. With some exceptions, most of us have a general sense of what our income and expenses will be. We may get a modest raise and the cost of living may increase at a rate that we can see coming, so for the most part, our monthly budgets can be set and we can adjust accordingly.

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February 6, 2012 3:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: Beware of Falling Payrolls

18

Jay Jaffe

Does history give any clues as to how the Mets will perform with a lower payroll?

Late last month, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reported that the Mets are facing the largest one-year payroll cut in major-league history, at least in terms of total dollars. With owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz deprived of the profits they derived from decades of investing with Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, and struggling to find minority partners willing to provide a quick infusion of capital, the team is hemorrhaging money and facing a growing mountain of debt. According to general manager Sandy Alderson, the Mets lost $70 million last year, and made no real attempt to retain pending free agents Carlos Beltran (who was traded in midseason) or Jose Reyes (who departed for the Marlins in December). Barring even one additional midlevel signing, they could become the first team to drop $50 million in salary from one Opening Day to the next.

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