Dodgers Trade Highlights MLB's Big Issue

The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Trade All-Stars

By Derek Togerson
|  Saturday, Aug 25, 2012  |  Updated 7:48 PM PDT
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Dodgers Trade Highlights MLB's Big Issue

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LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: First baseman Adrian Gonzalez #23 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a three run home run in his first at bat as a Dodger in the first inning against the Miami Marlins on August 25, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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On August 16, Major League Baseball owners approved the sale of the San Diego Padres to a new ownership group. The new owners talked about their commitment to the game, to the city, and to the fans of the Padres.

Co-owner Phil Mickelson even said he could see the Padres pumping up their payroll to $100 million at some point. In case you're wondering, San Diego has never had a payroll higher than the  $73.6 million they shelled out for the 2008 season.

In today's MLB, $100 million even would give them the 10th-highest payroll in baseball, just behind the defending World Series champion Cardinals.

That number is important because 11 of the last 16 World Series champs have had a payroll that ranks in the top-10 in baseball.

The questions for the Padres are, how long will $100 million be feasible? And, how long with $100 million dollars still be a decent payroll in a game that's financial inequity is getting out of control?

The Dodgers acquisition of Adrian Gonazlez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from the Red Sox adds nearly $270 million to their payroll. They'll pay a shade under $260 million of that.

L.A. also gave massive contracts to Matt Kemp (8 years, $160 million) and Andre Ethier (5 years, $85 million), as well as $19 million to Clayton Kershaw.

And don't forget about the other trades, most notable being Hanley Ramirez and his $34 million dollar price tag.

Along with Joe Blanton, a pitcher the Dodgers claimed off waivers from Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Dodgers have taken on a whopping $533 million dollars for 9 players.

Can the Padres ever do that? No, and they shouldn't. While the deal looks nice and splashy, and will energize the fan base for a bit, it still didn't address the Dodgers' biggest need, which is depth in the starting pitching rotation (an area where they're still light years behind the Giants).

Basically, it's your typical Hollywood blockbuster directed by Michael Bay. Really cool visual effects that don't have much substance and don't hold up over time.

Sorry, I got off point there.

The point is, Bud Selig has allowed the free spending of the Yankees and Red Sox and Phillies and, now, the Dodgers to create an unbalanced, unfair system.

Teams that, by no fault of their own, cannot afford these kinds of massive deals become more reliant on home-grown talent. If the MLB Draft has taught us anything, it's taught us player development is an inexact science.

If a small-market franchise misses on a few picks (see Bush, Matt) it can cripple the organization for years.

If a big-market team misses on a few picks (see Taylor, Brien) it can just throw more money at free agents to fix the hole and continue to thrive.

Commissioner Selig has done a lot of good things for baseball. The Wild Card, drug testing and Interleague Play come immediately to mind. But if he doesn't stand up to the owners and make this right, baseball will stop being "America's Pastime." It'll start being "The Pastime Of A Few Cities In America."

Places like San Diego and Kansas City might make a run every now and then when a bumper crop of prospects comes along. But as soon as those players become too expensive to keep (see Gonzalez, Adrian) they'll be off to join the MLB elite.

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