Why Do We Care About Money?

Why do we care about money? If our favorite team signs a player for more than we think he's worth, why do we care? Why does giving a three-year deal at $10 M per to a merely OK relief pitcher bother (some) of us? It's not our money, after all - and the owners are more than wealthy enough to afford an extra couple million bucks. Better it go to the players than line his pockets, yeah?

These arguments (and more!) are some I've heard when complaining that my team over-payed a certain player. You know what; it's kind of a good question. Why do I care so much about the money portion of the deal? What are the implications of over-paying for a player?

Here's some (half-baked) ideas (this post is largely for discussion - I'm interested in other people's ideas on the matter):

  • While over-paying for one player won't make or break a team most of the time, those things add up. If you over-pay for players constantly - especially on multi-year deals - then there will come a time where there really are big budget constraints. Sign a mediocre reliever to an expensive two/three year deal each season, and by year three you'll be paying $15+ M for 150 innings of a 4.00 ERA out of the pen (2 wins maybe?) - and then you still need to fill out the rest of the team with players to actually help you win some games.
  • Owners may be wealthy, but I don't see why we should expect them to be OK with their team's losing money consistently. That means there are budgets, even if they can float around quite a bit depending on circumstances.
  • And as to the "it's not your money" point; where do people think team revenue comes from? By going to games and buying merchandise I'm helping subsidize the team's spending, and I'd prefer they used that money wisely.
  • Also, while it's not strictly a one-to-one, it's fair to think that extra money spent in one area (players) leaves less money for other areas (the draft, scouting, international prospects).
  • "Better to spend it on player A than (worse) player B" is unconvincing; it boils down to "do something dumb instead of doing something dumber". Why not do neither?
  • When asked why I care at all about money, I've taken to using a set example: would you care if the team gave Paul Bako $30 M? If so, then we're just arguing over where the line is, no?
  • Additionally, there are the process concerns (as opposed to results like budget limits and whatnot). If the team values players poorly, then that doesn't increase one's confidence in their ability to put together a competitive team over the long run.
  • More generally, it's dumb. Even if there are no "real" consequences. I could afford to go to the dollar store and offer them $5 for one of their knick-knacks. There are really no negative after affects, and I'm still getting some benefit from the purchase. But it seems pretty clearly dumb, right? 

So what else do you all have? Arguments from either side welcome. I guess this issue partially involves the distinction between fan and analyst, but to me that only distinguishes the level of emotion about a deal and not the basic reaction.

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