Why the Summer of 2013 Is So Important For LFC

After the Liverpool loss to Manchester United on Sunday, I was in a bit of a mood. I didn’t want to get up from my bar stool. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to do anything. I was upset. A loss always hurts, but when you lose to United, it’s much, much worse. As I watched Arsenal lose to City, I started to reflect on the last few months, and I couldn’t help but feel conflicted when evaluating where we are right now compared to where we were on 1 September 2012.

This was always going to be a rebuilding year for LFC. The majority of us accepted that after the massive Deadline Day fuck-up on 31 August, when Andy Carroll left and no new striker came in, leaving LFC very, very barren at the striker position for the next four months. Brendan Rodgers had been preaching for patience with him for months beforehand, but after Deadline Day, the certainty of a rough season was etched into stone.

What hurt was the fact that every Liverpool fan knew that they needed to add a striker in this window, and it was really the worst-kept secret in the Premiership that Brendan Rodgers didn’t wanna keep Andy Carroll, so two strikers would need to come in for the club to stand a chance. It didn’t really matter to me that LFC had signed Joe Allen, Fabio Borini, Oussama Assaidi, and Samed Yesil. It didn’t really matter that Nuri Sahin, a year removed from being Bundesliga Player of the Season in 2010-11, was coming in for a season on loan. As far as I was concerned, the club had just taken this season and flushed it down the drain.

Now, over four months have passed since the deadline day fuck-up. This season has been, for lack of a better term, a disappointment by Liverpool standards. As things stand right now, LFC is in 8th place, which is where they finished last season in spite of having a net spend of £20m during the summer. LFC have yet to beat a team in the top half of the table (however, it should be noted that Suarez’s Merseyside Derby winner wrongly disallowed at Goodison Park). LFC are out of the League Cup after losing to Swansea City at Anfield. They advanced to the knockout stages of the Europa League, but if Di Natale converts that last chance in Italy, they been knocked out in the group stage. To top it all off, LFC lost to Aston Villa 3-1 at home, a young side that has been getting demolished by clubs since our encounter with them.

Almost all signs on the pitch have pointed to this being a season of everlasting disappointment. And yet, I’m still optimistic. Why, you ask, would I still be optimistic about this club in spite of everything that has gone wrong? It’s because I believe that this squad is finally starting to come together as a unit, and we’re seeing improvement.

Suarez has had a tremendous campaign so far this season. He carried the load after Carroll had left and Borini went down. Keeping that in mind, Daniel Sturridge has come in from Chelsea for £12m. He’s looked solid in his first couple of appearances, scoring two goals. Borini has come back as well. Brendan Rodgers now have multiple attacking options up front to play with for the last half of the season. Imagine what’ll happen if Suarez can finally have a rest at some point this season!

In addition, the youth players that have come into the team are doing well, getting first team experience, and showing improvement. The likes of Andre Wisdom, Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey, and Suso have all stepped in and done well for LFC in the last four and a half months. All are under the age of 21, part of the LFC Academy, and have contributed for the first team during the season. Because of the fact that these players have gotten games this season, the club will benefit in the long-term. Yes, this LFC side does need experience, and from an outsider’s perspective, have put a very large emphasis on buying young players, but the fact that LFC is putting in a foundation for the future is something that should be admired and not derided by the fans.

To top it all off, the wage bill can still be thinned out, and when the last stage of wage bill slimming occurs, it will enable this club to make major moves in the transfer window and help us move forward. Before you all start on how John Henry, Tom Werner, and FSG are a bunch of cheap, useless piece-of-shit owners who don’t care about the club or its fans, I want you to keep an open mind when I lay out these facts:

  • In the last two seasons, Liverpool have averaged a net spend in transfer fees of £33,825,000. This season hasn’t even ended, and LFC can still increase that average.
  • Compare that to other clubs that aren’t in the Champions League: Tottenham have averaged a net profit of £13,500,000 in transfer dealings the last couple of seasons, Newcastle £5,000,000; etc. Nobody outside the Champions League Top Four comes close to LFC the last two seasons. The club’s current position suggest that it hasn’t been money well spent, but that’s not ownership’s fault.
  • The only Premier League clubs that have spent more than LFC in transfer fees the last couple of seasons are in the Champions League.

Yes, the wage bill slimming is a valid point when it comes to the finances of the club’s fees being offset by the big transfer fees. Yes, the bad buys under Dalglish and Comolli also have to be factored in. But the fact of the matter is that there’s no non-Champions League club in England that comes close to LFC’s spending on players in the last two seasons, and that still doesn’t include the new contracts handed out to Suarez, Agger, Skrtel, Suso, and Sterling, all done to keep the poachers further up the table from snatching the club’s brightest talent. LFC are not a selling club anymore, and they’re not afraid to be ambitious in the transfer market when the right targets are in line.

As far as the wage bill right now is concerned, things can still be improved. Joe Cole was sold to West Ham, offloading approximately £45,000 per week from the wage bill after his £3m pay-off. Sahin’s loan move was terminated on Friday, freeing up £60,000 per week for the next six months, which is reported to be exactly the wages that Daniel Sturridge is on.

Keep in mind that there are still moves that can be made to thin the wage bill. Carragher may retire at season’s end, and his £50,000 per week wages could go off the wage bill. Doni’s contract also expires at the end of this season, and he reportedly makes €4 million per season in wages. Coates is reportedly being allowed to leave by Brendan Rodgers, and Danny Wilson, who has gone missing since being signed from Rangers in the summer 0f 2010, is probably going to leave pretty soon as well. Dani Pacheco is also reportedly being allowed to leave. Downing could leave if LFC get a bid of £8million for him, which will also offload £80,000 per week (or probably £60,000 cause LFC have to give him a pay-off). Last but not least, West Ham are obligated to buy Andy Carroll for £17 million if they stay up, which seems very likely right now. Whether or not they try to decrease the fee is a different matter, but bottom line is that he probably will not return.

All of these moves would free up funds for Liverpool FC to use next summer, some moves more than others. With all of this in mind, should these moves occur and Rodgers is given the usual £30,000,000-plus to spend next season, the club will be a lot more flexible with who it can buy than it was in the last few seasons. This is rather exceptional when you consider the fact that LFC is a club currently in its third year without Champions League football, going on a fourth (but hey, there’s got a shot at that, right? No? Okay then).

If Rodgers uses the funds that he is given wisely, injecting the necessary experience into the squad that would go in conjunction with the young core he currently has in place, LFC can make a serious push at 4th place next season. But he needs to improve the squad next summer, and he has to start getting results on the pitch. If he doesn’t use the money wisely and signs the wrong players, then Liverpool FC is going to be resigned to mid-table mediocrity for the next five years.

As much as I love Suarez and truly believe that he loves Liverpool, he is a ticking time-bomb, much like Torres was. He will probably leave after next season if improvement isn’t clearly visible. While we’ll get a huge sum for him as a result of that transfer, his presence is something that LFC won’t be able to replace. There are more who can and will leave after next season as well. Pepe Reina could also leave if things don’t improve, and if he doesn’t, he’ll still be going on 32 years old at the end of next season.

All of the aforementioned moves are based around the fact that Liverpool FC, a club that prides itself on and sells itself to players and fans around the world as being one of the biggest and most successful clubs in Europe, has been out of Europe’s top competition for the last three seasons, going on four. If LFC fail to make the Champions League in 2013-14, it will mean half a decade out of the Champions League. It doesn’t matter how big a club you are, how many trophies you’ve won or how big a stadium you aspire to have: if you’re out of the Champions League for five seasons, it is something that very, very few clubs can successfully recover from.

That is why the summer of 2013 is so important. LFC need to build this squad up and start showing improvement when it comes to results in the Premier League. If LFC fail to do that next season, when the wage bill will be at a very low point and the club will be incredibly flexible with how much it can spend on players, they’ll will be set back irreparably as a result. Liverpool FC is not in as terrible a shape right now as some fans will lead you to believe. But results have to start coming next season, or LFC is gonna feel the consequences of it for years to come.

Follow Greg Visone on Twitter @njny

Injured Players vs, Concerned Coaches: Who Should Get the Final Say?

Most NFL fans watched in disbelief on Sunday as the Washington Redskins, leading the Seattle Seahawks 14-0 at home after the 1st Quarter of their Wild Card Playoff Game, pissed the lead away and lost 24-14, being dominated in the final three quarters.

What dominated the headlines was Robert Griffin III staying in the game despite being visibly injured, limping after a bad fall late in the first quarter. While he did throw a TD on the following play to make it 14-0, it was obvious that the entire complexion of the game changed with his injury. Kirk Cousins started warming up in anticipation, ready to replace the dynamic QB who took the NFL by storm over the course of his rookie season.

Having watched a lot of RGIII this season, I’ve constantly asked myself: “How in God’s name do you stop this guy?” When he’s healthy, RGIII is one of the scariest players a team can face. I’ve never seen the read-option be so successful in the NFL, and RGIII deserves nothing but praise for how he executes it. I came to the conclusion after the Redskins beat the Giants 17-16 in early December that the only way you could stop him is by injuring him. Unfortunately, that’s now happened twice this season. The second time around, however, the Redskins were too slow to react and pull him out before it was too late.

I watched the game with a friend who didn’t know much about football, and when RGIII started limping, I said to him, “they gotta take him out or they’re gonna be in trouble.” My reasoning was that his athleticism was now so hampered that he’d have to be a pure pocket passer, which would play right into the hands of the Seahawks Defense. With their ferocious pass-rush and hard-hitting secondary they’ve neutralized many pocket QBs over the course of this NFL season (see: Aaron Rodgers).

Not only was RGIII neutralized, but the entire Redskins offense was neutralized, and the Seahawks got back into the game. The score was 14-13 by the end of the half, and, inevitably, the Seahawks took the lead in the 4th, and went on to win 24-14, knocking out RGIII late in the game.

Fans on social media and sports journalists were outraged at the decision of Head Coach Mike Shanahan and the Redskins’ team doctors, including the world-renowned Dr. James Andrews, for allowing him to stay in the game. When Redskins Head Coach Mike Shannahan was asked why he kept RGIII in, he claimed that RGIII told him, “there’s a difference between being injured and hurt, and I can guarantee you I’m not injured.” Shanahan trusted his player and let him stay in the game. The decision backfired, however, and, not only did the decision end the Redskins’ season, but it probably has put the health of their young franchise quarterback in jeopardy.

This has raised an interesting debate about whether or not a coach should listen to an injured player who insists he’s healthy enough to play or take the matter out of the player’s hands and sit him. This debate has been around for years in different formats, where the player is dealing with a concussion or hamstring issue or whatnot.

I’ve been thinking about it for years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that every decision when it comes to this matter is case-specific. On one hand, only the player himself knows whether or not he is healthy enough to play, and when it comes down to it, he should be the one to decide whether or not he is healthy enough to play. Every player is a competitor, and it is their natural instinct to be on the field fighting for their team at all costs, and every competitor believes that they are the best person at their position for their team and that they will do whatever is necessary to stay on that field.

However, sometimes that can take the form of hubris, and a player who claims he’s healthy when he really isn’t can harm the team and further harm himself by continuing to play. This is what happened with RGIII, and it is the responsibility of the Head Coach and team doctors to tell the player that he cannot continue if it is obvious that he is struggling and not physically capable to do what he does best. RGIII’s athleticism and running ability is a pivotal role of what makes him so tough to play against: He’s Michael Vick with a more accurate arm. By keeping him on the field, the Shanahan and the Redskins’ medical staff failed to take control of the situation and do what was best not only for the team, but for RGIII himself. The Redskins averaged less than 2 yards per play after his early injury, and failed to score the rest of the game—leaving him in hurt himself and the team. In the end, Shanahan is the head coach, and an authority figure over RGIII—he should communicate with the medical staff to make a decision for the player. Now, there’s been a discrepancy as to whether Shanahan actually consulted Dr. Andrews on RGIII’s injury (Shanahan says Dr. Andrews cleared him, while Dr. Andrews said he never examined him), but as the head coach, that accountability lies with Shanahan.

What really baffles me in this case is why didn’t the Redskins pull him when they had prepared for this scenario during the NFL Draft? They knew that RGIII was culpable to injury because of the way he played the game, and they drafted Kirk Cousins in the 4th Round to have a capable backup when RGIII did go down. It’s not often that a team would use a 4th round pick on drafting a 2nd QB, especially after mortgaging their 1st round picks for the next few years for the opportunity to move up in the draft to take RGIII. They had limited picks after the trade to draft RGIII, but took another QB with a 4th round choice anyway. They knew that all running QBs break eventually, and having a handcuff for RGIII was more important than any other position. RGIII is the franchise QB, the future of the franchise that the Redskins traded three first round picks and a second round pick to acquire, and he’s still a rookie. Yes, winning a playoff game is very important, but they had a gameplan in place for when, not if, WHEN, RGIII went down, and they deviated away from that gameplan and have potentially ruined their most important asset in the process. That is what is so baffling about the Redskins handled this.

While I’m all for RGIII continuing to play and feeling okay, Mike Shanahan and the Redskins team doctors failed him, their franchise, the fan base, and the entire city of Washington D.C. by allowing him to stay on the field. In a city where superstar Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg was controversially shut down near the end of the season to preserve his young and newly reconstructed elbow to protect his future at the cost of winning in the present, the Redskins demonstrated a reckless disregard for their player’s career, and their franchise’s future success. They not only lost the game against the Seahawks, but they risked their future as well.

Any coach or player will tell you that they’d prefer one Super Bowl win and nine years of losing as opposed to ten years of success but no championships. On Sunday night, Shanahan was going for that golden ticket by leaving RGIII in the game—a decision that was wrong for the immediate and long-term success of the Redskins.

Follow Greg on Twitter @njny

New Years Resolutions For Five Sports Figures

Unlike these sports figures who wish 2012 could last forever, these five are happy that they’re being granted clemency in the form of a new year. New year, new leaf. Their New Years resolutions are…

The New York Jets
To stop sucking.
The 2012 New York Jets may have been the worst 6-10 team in NFL history, at least from a viewer’s perspective. Living in the New York area, and not having Fox (thanks NYU Campus cable) forced me to watch every Jet game this season. Sportswriters love to use the word “joke” to describe especially awful teams/players/coaches, but the Jets were a joke this year in the most literal sense of the word. They were actually funny to watch. The Mark Sanchez Comedy Club was in full-swing, starring: Tebow’s Bench Spot, Shonn Greene’s Yards Per Carry Average, Every Jet Receiver, Brandon Moore’s Butt Cheeks, Fireman Ed, and Rex Ryan’s Neck Flab.

Every game, just when you thought that things couldn’t get any worse for the Jets, they did. For many teams, they’ll hit rock bottom at some point in the game, and that’ll be it. They’ll keel over and die, going into damage limitation mode. The Jets, however, managed to always hit rock-bottom in each of their 10 losses, and then actually exceed that bottom point. Whether it’s the Sanchez butt-fumble, or throwing away the Titans game at least 10 different times, these Jets just didn’t know when to stop sucking. After the Titans game, my roommate—a Jets fan—actually vomited, screaming out, “I can’t take it anymore! He [Mark Sanchez] is so bad!”

For years, the Jets have been a circus. It’s been great reality TV, beyond the Hard Knocks episodes. This is what owner Woody Johnson wanted, and it’s worked. They’ve been the more talked about New York football team the past four years, have signed every controversial player, and have provided every pull-quote to make the organization a continuous SportsCenter headline. This past season was the season when the circus animals got rabies, broke out of their chains, and killed the carnies. Huge financial commitments to several veterans may prevent them from cleaning house this offseason, but at some point, this front office and roster needs to be burned to the ground.

Demarcus Cousins
To control myself and think about how my actions hurt other people.
Yes Demarcus, please calm down. He’s near the half-way point of his 3rd NBA season, and he’s already clashed with two head coaches. His first, Paul Westphal, sent Cousins home last season, because he was “unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team.” Ouch. More recently, the Kings suspended him indefinitely for “unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team”—a suspension that lasted two total days.

Cousins is a a great NBA big (not many centers are capable of putting up 25 and 15 on any given night at age 22), and could be an elite NBA player, which is why he’s getting away with murdering the Kings. Westphal was fired soon after his bout with Cousins, and an indefinite suspension that ended up being only two days suggests that he’s holding the franchise hostage with his talent. Perhaps the Kings are still letting him play to boost his trade value, but Cousins needs to realize that he’s the best player on an NBA team, albeit a bad one. He has a chance to give the Kings life again, and possibly save NBA basketball in Sacramento with his success (I’m sure Seattle basketball fans would welcome his talents with open-arms). His future probably lies with a different franchise, but unless Cousins improves his approach to professional basketball, new pastures will be no brighter.

Wesley Sneijder
To get on the pitch and see Jose Mourinho, stat.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Three years ago, Sneijder was coming off of a brilliant Champions League winning season with Inter, and a second-place finish at the World Cup. He was perhaps the most creative midfield force in the world, and undoubtedly the Dutch’s best player in South Africa. He was quoted at £35 million, and the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United were hot for his signature. Now, he’s available on a free from Inter, and the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal have all snubbed moves for him, because of his greed. It seems like ever since Jose Mourinho left Inter, the club and Sneijder have taken a nose-dive on the pitch. Sneijder himself hasn’t touched a Serie A pitch since September due to a contract dispute, and his international star is fading fast. He needs to swallow his pride, and take the pay-cut that he’s earned, because he hasn’t been good since 2010. A move to Tottenham or Liverpool would suit him, as each side lack world-beating Number 10s, but at this point, it seems like Sneijder is only knows what’s best for his Swiss bank account.

Aston Villa
To hug our mothers, and play some defense.
Aston Villa have been League One worthy in the month of December. Actually, they’ve been historically bad. Their 14 goals allowed over the past three matches set an EPL record for most goals conceded over that span. Paul Lambert’s side are in a rebuilding phase—the plan this year was to let the kids play. It’s an easy cop-out for the manager and supporters. If the team does well, then that means Villa’s youth is maturing quickly. If the team does poorly, then the results can be blamed on inexperience. This defending, however, is not due to youthful mistakes or lack of talent. This is just piss poor effort, cluelessness bred by bad communication and management, and (I guess) Gareth Bale’s speed.
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Out of every EPL team, 2013 couldn’t have come quicker for Aston Villa. If you know a Villa fan, buy them a cup of tea, and give them a hug. They need it.

Gary Bettman
To get back on the ice.
I don’t watch hockey. I don’t follow hockey. I only somewhat care about hockey when the New Jersey Devils make the finals, but even last year, I found LeBron v. Celtics more interesting. Hockey, however, is a sport that’s 1,000,000% better when watched at the actual game. I’ll never watch the sport on TV, but if I had some tickets to a Rangers game? Sure! I’m there.

Right now, Gary Bettman is destroying a beautiful live product because of his unwavering stance in CBA negotiations. Although there are millions of fans and families who desperately want NHL hockey back, the ESPN-centric sports world is simply moving on. I watch some SportsCenter every day, and I can’t remember the last time the NHL lockout was covered. During the NFL lockout, every outlet was making any movement at the negotiation table their lead story. If Goodell had crossed swords with an NFLPA lawyer in the restroom, we’d know. Not only is Bettman losing the NHL, but he’s losing the public’s interest. No NHL? No problem. Goodell and Stern are happily filling the void.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Sports Figures Who Turned Over A New Leaf In 2012

2013 is here, but there were some things in 2012 that I still can’t shake. Honey Boo Boo, Nate Silver’s ’72 Dolphins performance, and a KimYe baby were all moments that rocked me to my core in 2012. We can all be thankful for the lack of a Mayan Apocalypse, and enough good health to make it to 2013. Last year was a productive one for myself and everyone involved with JLBSports, and it’s sad to see it go. A few sports figures are also disappointed to see 2012 slip away, but are surely excited with the prospects and future accomplishments that 2013 will undoubtedly bring. This bunch wasn’t in a great place at this time last year, but have now positioned themselves at the top for the year to come.

Robin van Persie
If not for Falcao, Robin van Persie would be regarded as the best striker in the world. He’s gone from being an injury-prone, trophy-less What-If type of player on Arsenal, to a healthy, in-form starter on first place Manchester United. He’s notched over 30 goals this calendar year, and has supplanted Wayne Rooney has Sir Alex Ferguson’s top option at forward. Here’s to the best striker in the EPL finally putting it all together at age 29, even if he is a Manc.

Adrian Peterson
I’ve run out of superlatives to describe Adrian Peterson and his 2012 NFL campaign. He tore his ACL almost a year ago, and he’s come back better than before. A torn ACL at age 27 would end many running backs’ careers, or at the very least, limit explosiveness. Instead, Peterson came back from his injury 2-4 months ahead of schedule, and has gone on to light up scoreboards (and my fantasy team too. Taking him in the 4th round lead to a comfortable championship for me this year). His 6 yards per carry mark is the highest of his career, he’s already set career bests in rushing yards and all-purpose yards. With a 2,000 yard season in the back, AP has been an All-Day back, and the best player in football in 2012. Oh, and he’s doing it on a team that’s second to last in the NFL in passing yards. Christian Ponder has given Peterson no help at all, but he hasn’t needed it. History suggests that Peterson won’t be able to carry the Vikings to a Super Bowl, but at this point, nobody would be surprised if he did.

Jamaal Charles
Peterson has received all of the SportsCenter attention for his tremendous 2012 season, but Jamaal Charles has turned in his best season as a pro after a torn ACL ended his season in 2011. Playing for the 2-14 Chiefs, he turned in 1,500 rushing yards, all while playing within the NFL’s WORST ranked passing offense. The Chiefs might’ve gone winless this year without him.

Peyton Manning
This time last year, nobody was sure if Peyton Manning was ever going to play football again. Manning, along with Peterson, are now the top two contenders for Comeback Player of the Year, and the NFL MVP award. Manning leads the league in QBR, set a career high in completion percentage, and has thrown for the most touchdowns since his (then) record breaking 49 touchdown season in 2004. The Broncos are undeniably the NFL’s best team right now, and are primed for a deep playoff run.

The Indianapolis Colts
From worst, to, well, the playoffs. Andrew Luck having a banner rookie year was expected, but the playoffs? Jim Mora definitely wouldn’t have picked these Colts to make the playoffs in 2012. They have, however, been extremely lucky. They had one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this year, only having to play three playoff bound teams, the Packers, Texans, and Patriots. The Colts have also had some immense luck (pun intended), as their -30 point differential is the worst of all playoff teams, and their -12 turnover differential is the 4th worst in the AFC. They may regress next year, but Chuck Pagano and Co. thoroughly deserve this magical ride.

Carmelo Anthony
2011 was one to forget for Carmelo Anthony. His Melodrama got him sent out of Denver, and into a Knicks cauldron that didn’t fit. In 2011, never gelled with Amare Stoudemire (the Knicks have a losing record with them in the starting lineup), and Mike D’Antoni never wanted him in the first place. 2012 has been a career revival for Anthony. Against the Miami Heat, he scored 41 points in the Knicks’ first playoff victory in over a decade, and followed that up a few months later by setting a single-game Team USA Olympic scoring record with 37 points against Nigeria. Those Team USA camps seem to do something to players—LeBron saw Kobe’s work ethic in 2008 and got better—it seems like Anthony saw LeBron’s leadership and do-it-all team mentality during the Olympics, and has applied it to his 2012 NBA regular season thus far. As the Knicks leading scorer and engine of the offense, he’s lead his team to the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference, and a few “MVP, MVP!” chants from the Garden faithful as well.

LeBron James
In the span of one month, LeBron James exorcised all of his demons. He basically played every minute of the playoffs for the Heat, played one of the best games in playoff history against Celtics in Game 6, hit every clutch shot he needed to hit throughout the entire postseason, took a crap on the “Who’s the best player in the NBA? LeBron or Durant?” debate, and won his first NBA Championship with 60% of Dwayne Wade. He’s no longer the most hated player in the NBA, because it’s not fun to root against a guy who doesn’t fail anymore. As much as I loved hating on LeBron, it’s kind of nice now to sensibly sit back and enjoy the greatest basketball player of our generation do night-in and night-out what nobody else has done before. I still puke at all of his Samsung commercials though.

The Los Angeles Dodgers
This organization went from being torn apart and broken thanks to a divorce case to having the highest payroll in baseball and Magic Johnson in the stands. They’re being dubbed as the “Yankees West”—a term that would’ve been appropriate for the George Steinbrenner Yankees, but not for the suddenly tight-belted 2012 Yankees, who are dead-set on getting under the luxury tax. The Dodgers’ projected 2013 payroll stands at $207.9 million, and they’ve taken on nearly $500 million in total contracts within the past six months. Whether or not any of the spending will lead to winning baseball remains to be seen, but Dodgers fans can rest easy at night knowing that their team is serious about winning for the first time in years.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49