Why do fans grouse so much about the Astros low payroll for the past few years? Why do we write about it every time Jim Crane suggests Houston will gain payroll next season? It's because of things like this Aaron Gleeman tweet.
MLB payrolls: Average payroll of six division-winning teams was $147 million. All six division-winning teams spent at least $105 million.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) October 15, 2014
But, the bottom line is that talent costs money and teams with talent usually make the playoffs. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but a general guideline. The odds of a team succeeding with a modest payroll are long.
Those kooky, scrappy Cardinals teams, filled with young kids? In each of the past four years when the Cards have made it to the NLCS at least, they have also spent over $100 million. Only twice since 2006 have the Cardinals spent less than $90 million. Both times, they were within $2 million of that mark.
Being successful has never been about spending money willy-nilly. It's about smartly investing your resources. But, a team needs those resources to succeed, to invest in.
Maybe the Astros didn't have the resources to succeed. Maybe they didn't have the talent to invest in that could turn them into a contender, even if they didn't bottom out. But, don't expect them to suddenly become the Rays, competing with the big boys despite a modest spending profile.
No one wants the Astros to go back to the days of signing Woody Williams, Jeff Kent and Brandon Lyon. The Astros just need big league talent to invest in.