It's only two games in a long year, but watching the Dodgers on Sunday and Monday was painful. They had the look of a team that's out of sync, almost lost. On Sunday, 16 men were left on base against a not very good Marlins team, and Monday's 10-0 defeat at hitter-friendly Coor's Field was no better. I'm betting that this is the start of a frustrating month. I'm also betting that the addition of so many high-profile players so quickly might be counterproductive. Look, change has to be managed carefully in any business. It's not just having a fat checkbook - it's knowing how and when to spend the money. It's also gauging chemistry, personality, and drive. The new Dodger owners want a championship badly (it raises the value of the club just in time to negotiate a TV deal), but this group seems like a handful. Josh Beckett was practically thrown out of Boston for his belligerent manner and mediocre record, and Hanley Ramirez (pictured) wasn't exactly the most popular guy in Miami (don't be surprised if he's out of sorts for losing the spotlight to the Red Sox players acquired in the recent trade). Perhaps they were just misunderstood at their previous jobs, but a problem employee at one company often ends up being a problem employee at another. Personalities don't change on a dime. (Remember a guy named Manny Ramirez?) One other problem: spending sprees don't always result in victories. From the WSJ:
Since 1990, teams that increased opening-day payroll from one season to the next padded their win total only 49.5% of the time. In fact, the correlation between spending more and losing less was .06, which represents almost zero relationship whatsoever, according to a study by the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, an organization of Harvard students and faculty. In this span, for instance, teams that took on more than $20 million extra in salary added just 0.89 win the next season, while the teams that shed more than $20 million added 1.89 wins. From 2003 to 2004, the Texas Rangers took $48.4 million off the books, including getting rid of Alex Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro--that's the biggest downgrade in this study. The Rangers won 18 more games the following year. Meanwhile, when the Detroit Tigers added $42.5 million in payroll from 2007-08, the biggest increase in this study, they lost 14 more games (See: Dontrelle Willis: 24 innings, 0 wins, $7 million).
Let's also not forget that Chad Billingsley, arguably the team's strongest pitcher in recent weeks, is on the disabled list for at least the next couple of weeks. That alone could turn out to be a season killer. Bad vibes.