How Important Is Rays Cost Efficiency?

May 1, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman talks to the media after signing designator hitter Hideki Matsui (not pictured) to a minor league contract at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

After Albert Pujols signed his monster contract this past offseason Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times penned an article title No "bang for the buck" trophies in baseball. His article started off as why he felt the Mariners ownership should sign off on the signing of Prince Fielder, even at 25 million a year, in an attempt to keep pace in the division with the Angels.

About midway through the article the tone shifts to why fans care about the ownership being frugal. Baker says, "I continue to be intrigued by the level of interest fans have shown in which teams are getting the best "value" for their dollars spent. The best "bang for the buck" so to speak." He goes on to ask the rhetorical question as to whether or not a trophy is handed out at the end of the year for being cost effective which of course he then ask "if the fans are not seeing their teams win a trophy for such cost-effectiveness, or are not receiving a percentage fo the money saved, why do they care so much?

It is the final point that I don't believe he understands the segment of fans who are intersted in baseball on a budget when it comes to their teams efforts. In Bakers opinion, a certain group of fans place too much of an emphasis on the cost-effectiveness of their GM's:

I do think the overwhelming majority of fans deep down want their teams to win championships in the long run. But in the process of getting there, I think they place too much emphasis on the cost-effectiveness of their GMs.

It was the last quote that caught my attention last year since the DRaysbay front page says:

DRaysBay -A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget

We are a fanbase that does place emphasis on the cost-effectiveness of our front office. Of course, this isn't out of some desire for $tu Sternberg to make more money it is out of our desire, as Rays fans, for the organization to have the resources to remain competitive year after year as they have done since 2008.

Yesterday, Bloomberg came out with their Second Annual Ranking of the Smartest Spenders in Sports and the Rays were ranked #1. Here are the top 10 smartest spenders in sports according to the methodology used by Bloomberg:

MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays came in at #1 with an efficiency index of -1.82, followed by #2 MLB’s Texas Rangers; #3 NHL’s Detroit Red Wings; #4 NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers; #5 NBA’s Boston Celtics; #6 NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins; #7 NFL’s New England Patriots; #8 NFL’s Green Bay Packers; #9 NFL’s New York Giants; and #10 NHL’s Boston Bruins.

The Rays are in good company and teams that spend efficiently seem to be some of the most consistent in terms of being competitive. Taking a look at the bottom teams:

Dead last on the ranking is NFL’s St. Louis Rams, coming in at #122 with an efficiency index of 4.07. Joining the Rams in the bottom 10 least efficient spenders are #121 NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves; #120 MLB’s New York Mets; #119 New York Islanders; #118 NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs; #117 MLB’s Chicago Cubs; #116 NBA’s New York Knicks; #115 NBA’s Brooklyn Nets; #114 NHL’s Winnipeg Jets; and #113 MLB’s Seattle Mariners.

Maybe teams that focus on bang for the buck are actually looking deeper into players, past their brand name and past their past performance, and are looking into future value and performance? The Rays along with 29 other Major League teams recently had a cash boon fall to them in the form of the new TV deal with ESPN. The current contract with ESPN was paying teams $360 million a year and sources say that the new deal will pay teams closer to $700 million annually.

This new contract will cause salaries to increase over time but the initial influx of money should provide the Rays with a bridge in revenue between now and the time that they can negotiate a new contract with Sun Sports and hopefully be moving into a new stadium.

And of course, we'll get a number of articles about how owners can go out and spend, spend, spend. Hard to believe that Mr. Baker has already penned one of the first titled New TV deal with ESPN shows MLB teams have plenty of cash to keep spending big.

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