When you bring in your closer in the sixth inning, you either took a time machine back to the 1970s or you are in a world of trouble in actual time.
For the Athletics, it was the latter.
A team with the lowest payroll in baseball—$66 million to start the season, some $16 million less than the year before—was in Desperation Mode in their wild card game. Their seventh-inning guy started the game and gave up two runs after two batters.
It went downhill after that.
The Athletics had their chances early and couldn’t capitalize. So, the Yankees decided to just end the hope.
It’s easy to feel sorry for the poor, money strapped Athletics having to face the rich, money hemorrhaging Yankees. But if you look at the Yankees lineup, and who they have run out day in and day out for most of their 100-win season, you see it’s mostly kids making the major league minimum, or slightly above, and home grown.
Aaron Judge, $622,300. Luke Voit, $545,000. Miguel Andujar, $545,800. Gary Sanchez, $620,400. Gleyber Torres, $545,000. And, of course, the pitcher, Luis Severino, 4604,975. They even left Greg Bird ($582,000) off the wild card game roster.
This wasn’t a lopsided payroll contest, despite the Yankees having a payroll about three times that of the Athletics. It was a matchup of two young teams featuring their next generation of stars. The difference will be, once those stars get expensive, the Athletics will sell them off and the Yankees will pay to keep them.
Both teams have done, successfully, what the Rangers are trying to do. Build from within. The baseball Circle of Life. Always replenishing.
Oakland went from 75 wins and a last place finish in the West, to 97 wins and a second-place finish, really with a young, productive offense. They, too, took the scrap head starter route, but mostly that was to supplement a young, productive rotation (before they all got hurt).
Maybe Texas’s young position players are capable, as a group, of taking that next step forward like Oakland’s did. Maybe they gel. The trouble is, unlike with Oakland, Texas doesn’t have the pitching to take advantage of it. So, this young core the Rangers are so proud of, will simply wilt on the vine. The Circle of Life doesn’t work as as semi-circle.
Unless the Rangers get lucky, get wise, get generous, and get into the free agent pitching pool, Rangers fans will have to be witnessing winning baseball through the keyhole of other teams.
Now, the Yankees go from facing the team with the lowest payroll in baseball to the highest: the Boston Red Sox.
Let the overkill begin.