Baseball’s first $300 million team batted .198, boasted three extra base hits (all doubles, see box score), and played on the wrong end of a no-hitter during their ill-fated series against the Houston Astros, a team with the second lowest payroll ($69 million) in baseball, this weekend.
1st of 3 losses. After signing long-time Phillie Chase Utley Friday to become the first team to top a $300 million payroll, the Dodgers promptly registered no hits against Mike Fiers, earning $512,500 this year, or just $5,000 more than the league minimum. The no-no marked the journeyman pitcher’s first complete game in the majors despite his 50 decisions (22-28) and 59 games started during his career.
The three-game composite of their starting line-up this weekend with salaries shows one of the worst returns on investments possible for the debut series. The starters alone total $163 million in salary:
|1st 3 games at $300M||Pos||Salary||AB||R||H||RBI||BB||Xtra|
|Jimmy Rollins||SS||11,000,000||13||1||2||0||0||1 2B|
|Chase Utley||2B||10,000,000||13||1||2||0||0||2 2B|
|Others on payroll||14||0||1||0||3||0|
|.179 BA, .211 Slug, .220OB||298,500,000 + bonus||95||3||17||2||5||0|
The free spending of Magic Johnson and partners seemed to give the Dodgers a great chance to secure the National League West over the San Francisco Giants. However, suffering through five straight losses the Dodgers fell to a one-game lead over the Giants, who gifted the Dodgers with a half-game buffer after a loss of their own. The Dodgers see little chance at a wildcard if they do not beat out the Giants.
I went to Minute Maid Park to see the Astros rally past the Rays earlier in the week. The attendance sunk below the number of spectators watching some of the worst teams in baseball, as Houston fans have not seen their team finish within 28 games of first place in five years. However, the young team led by Carlos Correa, 20, hopped around and enthusiastically came from behind.
2nd of 3 losses. Still, the second game ever played by a $300 million team included the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke taking the mound with a 13-2 record and incredible 1.58 ERA.
However, Astros star second baseman José Altuve, listed generously at 5-foot-5 inches, was one of two Astros to step to the plate and stroke a home run against Greinke in a 3-1 Astros win.
3rd loss completes sweep. The Dodgers seemed a lock Sunday afternoon with Clayton Kershaw (six earned runs in his last 62 innings) vs. Lance McCullers (six earned runs in 1/3 inning this month), but …
… McCullers was not really that bad with a 3.17 ERA in a hitters’ park and he managed to keep the Astros close Sunday. Rising megastar Carlos Correa singled and stole second in the ninth, then with the Dodgers one out from a win raced home on a single to force extra innings.
Jason Castro went the other way for a home run that just cleared the fence into the Crawford Boxes, where I sat few nights earlier, to make the Astros 45-21 at home while the Dodgers dropped to 25-36 away from the pitchers’ paradise called Dodger Stadium.
When Magic Johnson put together a $2.15 billion package to buy the Dodgers a few years ago, clearly he and the investment team (Magic put in $50 million himself) would spend whatever it took to win. However, this weekend the low-budget analytical wizards in Houston swept baseball’s first $300 million team.