Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Show Me the Money

We liked the Akron Beacon Journal's take on this weekend's sports developments. As we've just noted, the Browns were a bust in a truly scary way--they were completely unprepared for their first game! The Buckeyes were terrific in a truly gratifying way--they were completely prepared for their biggest game! But the Akron Zips were terrific in a wholly different way--you could actually watch them take a giant step forward by beating a BCS team.

But what's really on our mind is a question we still can't answer: why did the Indians trade Bob Wickman? At last look, Wickman had 13 saves for the Braves, a team that like the Indians isn't going anywhere. The Indians got a low-level minor league catcher in the exchange which is about right since neither team knows whether either player will be around much longer.

What the trade of Wickman really was about, and GM Mark Shapiro has basically hinted as much, is money. And, most significantly, saving money. The figuring must be that since we won't be getting into the post-season anyway, what's the difference how many games we actually win. In other words, if we're going to lose anyway, we might as well do it as cheaply as possible.

But the problem with that line of thinking is that cheapskate owners Larry and Paul Dolan are still charging full price for the games, which seems a tad disingenuous if not outright unfair. But this particular fraud isn't even the biggest one being perpetuated on the fans. It's the oft-repeated mantra from no less than Paul Dolan himself that saving this money helps us be in a position to compete next year.

Really? How so? As we've said previously, the Indians aren't saving real money to spend next year. They're just shaving this year's payroll. There is little evidence that the Dolans will plow it back into the franchise. If they didn't this season when the Tribe was on the verge of returning to elite status, then when would they? Put it this way: even if the Dolans surprise everyone and spend all the money they saved by shaving payroll this season, that only gets us back to the undersized payroll we started with. And as we've also said previously, the Tribe's budget was hardly competitive anyway. The Tribe is fourth in the standings in the A.L. Central and fourth in payroll as well and losing ground each year. The Tribe will have to go well in excess of their payroll at the beginning of the season, not the end, to even get back into that race.

In short, explain again to me why the Indians traded Bob Wickman?

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