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Revisiting Barry Bonds And The Seven Dwarves

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Buzzword alert, courtesy of the Mets' GM Sandy Alderson: "Payroll concentration." Learn it, know it, live it. I'm talking to you, Spicoli.

Here's what Alderson is talking about, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:

"If you want to look at the data and the way we look at data and associate winning teams with payroll concentration, you realize that there are limits to how effective an overall team can be with their payroll concentrated in a small number of players," Alderson said. "It's just a historical fact."
It's all the rage: Get a bunch of solid free agents for the price of one megastar, and you have the possibility of the 2013 Red Sox at your fingertips. Alderson's star employee, David Wright, makes the argument here (h/t MLB Trade Rumors).

Reminds me of a story we used to tell our kids, back in the golden age of run production: "Barry Bonds And The Seven Dwarves."

That's mid-'00s slang for the situation the Giants created for themselves, trying to surround the then-mega-salaried Bonds ($18 M a year -- how quaint!) with a cast of solid, workmanlike characters. Or so the Giants tried to convince us. Ray Durham. Michael Tucker. Mike Matheny. Matt Morris. Slap some unwashed chin fuzz on those guys, and hi ho, hi ho, lovable World Champions from Boston.

There was a specific moment, if you could call an offseason a moment, when the BB+7D strategy came under the most scrutiny. After the 2003 season, Vladimir Guerrero was a free agent, and boy, did we want him here in San Francisco. Bonds in left, Vlad in right... Go Giants Go. Even though Vlad had just finished an injury-marred season, he was still awesome when he was on the field. For those of you who only know Vlad from his more-sad-than-comical right field misadventures in the 2010 World Series, please know this instead: for most of his career Vlad Guerrero was a baseball beast.

By late 2003, however, the injuries were already a risk, and the Giants shied away from Vlad, or from any other expensive slugger, despite the entreaties of Bonds himself. Head honcho Peter Magowan underscored the strategy the following winter, too:

"It's unlikely you'll see a $14 million player on the Giants next year in addition to Barry Bonds," Magowan said. "That's too much money for two players. I don't think that's going to happen, but I think we'll have opportunities to find good players (who) will help us."
Marquis Grissom. Moises Alou. Omar Vizquel. The Giants found several solid players who did good things. But the win-loss records trump all. Those pre-Lincecum years are looked back upon by Giants fans with as much fondness as the Russians have for the siege of Stalingrad. Jose Castillo, Armando Benitez, and if you were fast enough, a rat for dinner. 

But now? Payroll concentration? Blech. Looks like the Giants were simply ahead of their time. Big Papi And the Seven Dwarves: I'll let you guess which one is Dopey.
 

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