Fact-finding mission: Red Sox payroll

When the Red Sox fell $8 million short of matching Detroit’s offer to Victor Martinez, some e-mails and comments on the blog accused John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino of being cheap.

One particularly irate e-mailer sent a 400-word missive (on Thanksgiving, no less) that said, “they need to open the vault and stop short-changing the fans.”

In the interest of learning the truth, we went over to Cot’s Baseball Contracts to check it out.

Henry and his group have owned the Sox since 2002. Here are the top 10 Major League payroll expenditures going back to that season:

1. Yankees $1.679 billion
2. Red Sox $1.145 billion
3. Mets $1,040 billion
4. Cubs $924.4 million
5. Angels $905.5 million
6. Dodgers $904.3 million
7. Phillies $844.2 million
8. Mariners $838.3 million
9. Braves $836.3 million
10. Tigers $784.4 million


To be more specific with the Red Sox payroll:

2002: $108.3 million
2003: $99.9 million
2004: $127.2 million
2005: $123.5 million
2006: $120.1 million
2007: $143.0 million
2008: $133.4 million
2009: $121.7 million
2010: $168.1 million

Since 2002, the Red Sox have raised their payroll by 55.2 percent. Within the American League East, they have outspent the Rays by approximately $800 million and the Orioles and Blue Jays by $511 million.

Within all of baseball, they have outspent the next highest-spending team (the Mets) by 10 percent and the next highest-spending American League team (the Angels) by nearly 26 percent.

The problem, of course, are the Yankees, who have outspent the Red Sox by 46.6 percent since Henry became owner, an average of $59.3 million a year.

Though the Red Sox have significantly outspent 28 other teams, the disparity with the Yankees is so striking that people tend to focus on it.

But for the extra $534 million the Yankees have spent the last nine years, they have 36 more wins in the regular season and a grand total of two more victories in the playoffs. For a team with apparently unlimited resources, that is not much of a reward.

If your argument is the Red Sox need to spend their money more effectively, perhaps you have a point. But look at the Mets and Cubs, who have dropped close to $2 billion on a lot of nothing.


The verdict: The cold hard facts show the Red Sox have opened the vault and spend more than enough money to win. If you choose to compare them only to the Yankees, they come up woefully short. But unless you want a nutty Russian oligarch owning the team, that probably isn’t going to change.

The tangent to this discussion is whether Henry purchasing Liverpool FC is somehow detrimental to the Red Sox. To believe that conspiracy theory, one would have to assume that wealthy people invite disaster when they own more than one company and Henry’s phone doesn’t work when he visits England.

Readers of this blog, of course, are smarter than that.

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