Can a small market team compete? The answer, unequivocally, is “YES”. Let’s get that out of the way first.
Hal McCoy had a piece in the DDN, in which he states that we need a salary cap. He’s wrong about that, but he does stumble onto something that fellow RN Editor Bill Lack says often: what money buys you is the chance to recover from a mistake. Small-market clubs can’t make mistakes like handing out big contracts to players that don’t earn them (I’m looking at you, Bronson Arroyo). Large payroll teams can just paper over those mistakes with more cash.
I’m probably going to get this wrong, but something like six of the eight highest payrolls in baseball did not make the post-season. It’s about good management, folks. If I had to choose between sound management and a lot of money…well, first I’d ask if I could have them both. But without sound management, having a ton of money is worth little to nothing. Just ask the Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs.
We know the Reds don’t have a ton of money to play around with. Therefore, it is imperative that they have smart people running the show, making good decisions. I’m pretty sure the people running the franchise are smarter (about baseball operations) than me. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about whether they’ve made good decisions, or whether they can be reasonably expected to make sound decisions going forward.